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The Prophet (A Borzoi Book) Hardcover – September 23, 1923
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In a distant, timeless place, a mysterious prophet walks the sands. At the moment of his departure, he wishes to offer the people gifts but possesses nothing. The people gather round, each asks a question of the heart, and the man's wisdom is his gift. It is Gibran's gift to us, as well, for Gibran's prophet is rivaled in his wisdom only by the founders of the world's great religions. On the most basic topics--marriage, children, friendship, work, pleasure--his words have a power and lucidity that in another era would surely have provoked the description "divinely inspired." Free of dogma, free of power structures and metaphysics, consider these poetic, moving aphorisms a 20th-century supplement to all sacred traditions--as millions of other readers already have. --Brian Bruya
"Cadenced and vibrant with feeling, the words of Kahlil Gibran bring to one's ears the majestic rhythm of Ecclesiastes... If there is a man or woman who can read this book without a quiet acceptance of a great man's philosophy and a singing in the heart as of music born within, that man or woman is indeed dead to life and truth." --Chicago Post
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This quotation from the classic book by Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, illustrates why these writings have been popular for so long. This reviewer remembers getting his first copy of the book in Boston during the early 1950's, when it was widely circulated among college students at the time, as well as young adults who were starting out in that decade. It had a fresh take on the institutions of life, and offered that generation a sense of breaking away from convention without being particularly radical. It was a way to be non-conforming, without departing too far from traditional values. This may explain why it surged in popularity in the 1960s, when the generation coming of age at that time had a new kind of permission to break away, yet have a sense of a valid value system at the same time. To read and talk about The Prophet became a quite "cool" thing to do. Gibran's work had been around for a long time, but it is the type of literature that has a way of being rediscovered as each new generation comes along. This is at least partially why it retains its popularity over so many years.
What I found was a story that was easy to read. There are few words per page, covering the sayings of a wise man as he speaks to those around him. There is a kind of poetry in the words, but not the kind that is difficult to understand. The insights were both familiar and refreshing. It made me reconsider my notions of all aspects of life, although it was less a spiritual revolution than a gentle awakening.
I bought the hardcover. It is small and sits easily in one hand. The pages are made from a rich-feeling, textured paper that feels nice to the fingertips. And the text is printed in spacious and easy to read letters. Throughout the book are scattered drawings that Kahlil Gibran made. I like them. I feel they add to the experience of reading this book, although I can't quite put my finger on the reason.
While spiritual, it does not, as far as I could tell, convey any beliefs specific to any religion or even assume a readily recognizable god. Gibran says, "... the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks, than to the least of all the blades of grass." (pp 27-28) The notion of god that emerges from these pages is of a pervasive connectedness or oneness with nature and the universe.
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