BORN: 1883, Bechari, Lebanon
DIED: 1931, New York
A Tear and a Smile (1914)
The Madman (1918)
The Prophet (1923)
Lebanese author of the immensely popular The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran is one of the most commercially successful poets of the twentieth century. His small books, biblical in style and often illustrated with his own allegorical drawings, have been translated into twenty languages, making him the most widely known writer to emerge from the Arab-speaking world. Gibran's poetry and prose are recognized for their metrical beauty and emotionally evocative language. They also demonstrate an ecstatic spiritualism and a serene love of humanity.
Works in Biographical and Historical Context
From Lebanon to the United States and Back Kahlil Gibran, baptized Gibran Khalil Gibran, was born on January 6, 1883, in Bechari, Lebanon, to Khalil Gibran and Kamila Rahme. His childhood in the isolated village beneath Mt. Lebanon included few material comforts, and he had no formal early education. However, he received a strong spiritual heritage. From an early age he displayed a range of artistic skills, especially in the visual arts. He continued to draw and paint throughout his life, even illustrating many of his books. Gibran's family immigrated to the United States when he was twelve and settled in the Boston area, but he returned to the Middle East for schooling two years later. Pursuing his artistic talents further, he entered the famed Écoledes Beaux Arts in Paris, where he studied under the French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Gibran's first efforts at writing were poems and short plays originally penned in Arabic that attracted modest success. In 1904, Gibran returned to the United States where he befriended Mary Haskell, headmistress of a Boston school. She became his adviser, and the two wrote lengthy romantic missives to each other for a number of years. These letters were later reproduced in the 1972 book Beloved Prophet: The Love Letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell, and Her Private Journal.
Exile and World War I During these early adult years, Gibran lived in Boston's Chinatown. Scholars note that the works from this period show a preoccupation with his homeland and a sadness stemming from his status as an exile. One of his first published books, ‘Ar’ is al-muruj (later published in English as Nymphs of the Valley, 1910), was a collection of three stories set in Lebanon. Two subsequent works written during this era, later published as Spirits Rebellious and The Broken Wings, are, respectively, a collection of four stories and one novella. In each, a young man is the hero figure, rebelling against those inside Lebanon who are corrupting it; common literary targets include the Lebanese aristocracy and the Christian church.
During World War I, his growing success as an émigré writer was tempered by Lebanon's abysmal wartime situation. Lebanon was at the time a region of the Ottoman Empire, which had chosen to side with Germany and Austro-Hungary, the Central powers, in their war against England, France, Russia, and their allies. Ultimately, after the Central powers were defeated by Allied troops, the Ottoman Empire was occupied and broken up into smaller regions to be controlled by Allied countries; as part of the peace accord, France assumed control of Lebanon. Prior to that, however, during the harshest periods of the war, many Lebanese citizens starved to death. Scholars of the poet's body of work hypothesize that Gibran's sorrow manifested itself in a
more pronounced quest for self-fulfillment in his works, and a spirituality that sought wisdom and truth without the aid of an organized religion. At one point in his career, the writer was excommunicated from the Christian Maronite church. His first work written and published in English was 1918's The Madman: His Parables and Poems. Its title comes from a previously published prose work in which the hero sees existence as “a tower whose bottom is the earth and whose top is the world of the infinite … to clamour for the infinite in one's life is to be considered an outcast and a fool by the rest of men clinging to the bottom of the tower,” explained Mikhail Naimy in the Journal of Arabic Literature.
Out of the sadness and despair of the years leading up to, including, and following World War I came Gibran's best-known work, The Prophet, which was published in 1923. The author planned it to be first in a trilogy, followed by The Garden of the Prophet and The Death of the Prophet. The initial book The Prophet chronicles, through the title character Almustafa's own sermons, his life and teachings. Much of it is given in orations to the Orphalese, the people among whom Almustafa has been placed.
Death Gibran was forty-eight when he died of liver cancer in New York City on April 10, 1931. The Arabic world eulogized him as a genius and patriot. A grand procession greeted his body upon its return to Bechari for burial in September 1931.
Works in Literary Context
Diverse influences, including Boston's literary world, the English Romantic poets, mystic William Blake, and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, combined with his Bechari experience, shaped Gibran's artistic and literary career. The influence of English poet William Blake, who illustrated his own collections of poetry, can be seen in Gibran's own illustrations. However, the most fruitful analysis of Gibran's predecessors must include a look at the parallels between Gibran's magnum opus and nineteenth-century authors Nietzsche and Walt Whitman.
Literary Comparisons Gibran's biographer, Mikhail Naimy, found similarities between The Prophet and Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra. In each, the author speaks through a created diviner and both prophets walk among humankind as outsiders. Some elements are autobiographical. The critic saw a parallel in Gibran's dozen-year stay in New York City with the twelve-year wait Almustafa endured before returning home from the land of the Orphalese.
Another critic compared The Prophet to Walt Whitman's Song of Myself. Mysticism, asserted Suhail ibn-Salim Hanna in Literature East and West, is a theme common to both, with Gibran having rejected the attitudes termed Nietzschean in favor of the more benign European ideology that unfolded during the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century. “Like Whitman, Gibran came to see, even accept, the reality of a benevolent and harmonious universe,” wrote Hanna.
Gibran's Legacy Authors since Gibran have utilized the spiritual/mystical autobiographical form to great effect. Respected psychiatrist Carl Jung took the form, tweaked it, and produced his memoir Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Nonetheless, Gibran's legacy extends beyond his direct influence on his literary successors and is best seen in the way he is viewed as an inspirational figure, whose mere mention evokes mysticism and thoughtfulness.
Works in Critical Context
Overall, Gibran's work has received little academic examination. As an introductory essay in Twentieth Century Literary Criticism points out, “Generally, most critics agree that Gibran had the refined sensibility of a true poet and a gift for language, but that he often marred his work by relying on shallow epigrams and trite parables.”
LITERARY AND HISTORICAL CONTEMPORARIES
Gibran's famous contemporaries include:
Mohandas Gandhi (1869–1948): This Indian social leader advocated nonviolent resistance as a means to effect social change.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882–1945): The thirty-second president of the United States served four terms in office. His New Deal policies are widely credited with helping the United States survive the Great Depression.
T. S. Eliot (1888–1965): American-born expatriate poet and playwright. His best-known poem, The Waste Land, was published the year before Gibran's The Prophet.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919): Nicknamed Teddy, he was the twenty-sixth president of the United States, serving in office from 1901 to 1909.
A Tear and a Smile Gibran's first collection of poetry appeared in Arabic in 1914 and was translated into English several years later and published as A Tear and a Smile. “The tears, which are much more abundant here than the smiles,” observed N. Naimy in Journal of Arabic Literature, “are those of Gibran the misfit rather than of the rebel in Boston, singing in an exceedingly touching way of his frustrated love and estrangement, his loneliness, homesickness and melancholy.” Naimy called this book a bridge between a first and second stage of Gibran's career: the writer's longing for Lebanon gradually evolved into a dissatisfaction with the destructive
attitude of humankind in general. By now Gibran's body of work was received enthusiastically in the extensive Arabic-speaking world, winning a readership that stretched from Asia to the Middle East to Europe, as well as across the Atlantic. Soon his writings were being referred to as “Gibranism,” a concept that “Gibran's English readers will have no difficulty in divining,” wrote Claude Bragdon in his book Merely Players; aspects of “Gibranism” include “Mystical vision, metrical beauty, a simple and fresh approach to the so-called problems of life.” Today, Arabic scholars praise Gibran for introducing Western romanticism and a freer style to highly formalized Arabic poetry.
The Prophet In October 1923 The Prophet was published; it sold over one thousand copies in three months. The Prophet was a popular success, but its critical reception has always been mixed. “In this book, more than in any other of his books, Gibran's style reaches its very zenith,” declared Gibran's biographer, Mikhail Naimy. “Many metaphors are so deftly formed that they stand out like statues chiseled in the rock.” Nonetheless, not all critics were as kind to Gibran's magnum opus as Naimy. Critiquing The Prophet from a more practical standpoint, Gibran's biographer, Khalil S. Hawi, faulted its structure. Writing in Kahlil Gibran: His Background, Character and Works, Hawi noted that “behind the attempts to perfect the sermons and each epigrammatical sentence in them lies an artistic carelessness which allowed him to leave the Prophet standing on his feet from morning to evening delivering sermon after sermon, without pausing to consider that the old man might get tired, or that his audience might not be able to concentrate on his sermons for so long.” Still, The Prophet went on to become the best-selling title in the history of its publisher, Alfred A. Knopf.
Responses to Literature
- Using the Internet and the library, research the word mystic. Based on your research, would you consider Kahlil Gibran a mystic? Why or why not? Explain your thinking in a short essay.
- For a long time, mystics were popular religious leaders. In some ways, some very important historical figures could be considered mystics: Jesus Christ, Confucius, Buddha, and even Socrates. How do you think mystics would be received today?
- Read The Prophet, keeping in mind Khalil Hawi's criticism of the practicality of the Prophet's delivering sermon after sermon without pausing. Do you think that Hawi's criticism is justified? If so, do you think the criticism lessens the overall effect of the text? Explain your thought processes in a short essay.
- In what ways, if at all, is the teaching of the Prophet in The Prophet relevant to your life? Cite specific examples from the text as you fashion your response.
- To find out more about the history of Lebanon, read A House of Many Mansions: A History of Lebanon Reconsidered (1993), by Kamal Salibi. Salibi has been praised for his even-handed approach to Lebanon's recent history, which is marked by sectarian violence.
COMMON HUMAN EXPERIENCE
Gibran's early work demonstrates his feeling of exile from his native Lebanon, suffusing it with great sadness and inspiring brilliance. Here are a few of the works of exiled writers:
Tristia (c. 10 ce), a work of poetry by Ovid. Ovid was exiled by the Roman emperor Augustus for reasons that remain mysterious. In this work, he laments his exiled state.
Dubliners (1914), a book of short stories by James Joyce. This collection of short stories depicts the people and places of Dublin. The book was well received by the Irish, many of whom felt that Joyce had captured the essence of the Irish character, both good and bad. The collection was published ten years after Joyce subjected himself to a self-imposed exile from his native Ireland.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1982), a novel by Milan Kundera. Czech author Kundera lived in exile in Paris while his homeland was dominated by the Soviet Union, and wrote this novel about the Prague Spring, a period of political liberalization that led to a Soviet military crackdown in 1968.
Bragdon, Claude. Merely Players. New York: Knopf, 1929.
Gibbon, Monk, ed. The Living Torch. New York: Macmillan, 1938.
Gibran, Jean. Kahlil Gibran, His Life and World. New York: Interlink Books, 1991.
Hawi, Khalil. Kahlil Gibran: His Background, Character, and Works. Beirut: American University. 1963.
———. Kahlil Gibran: His Background, Character and Works. Beirut: Arab Institute for Research and Publishing, 1972.
Hilu, Virginia, ed. Beloved Prophet: The Love Letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell, and Her Private Journal. London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1972.
Naimy, Mikhail. Kahlil Gibran: A Biography. New York: Philosophical Library, 1934.
Lebanese writer and artist Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) influenced modern Arabic literature and composed inspirational pieces in English, including The Prophet.
Kahlil Gibran, baptized Gibran Khalil Gibran, the oldest child of Khalil Gibran and his wife Kamila Rahme, was born January 6, 1883, in Besharri, Lebanon, then part of Syria and the Ottoman Turkish Empire. His childhood in the isolated village beneath Mt. Lebanon included few material comforts and he had no formal early education. However, he received a strong spiritual heritage.
Surrounded for centuries by members of the Moslem and Druze religions, residents of Maronite Christian villages like Besharri evolved a mystical philosophy of life. His later work was influenced by legends and biblical stories handed down for generations in the scenic region near the ancient Cedars of Lebanon.
Seeking a better future, the family, except for their father, moved to America in 1895. They joined relatives and shared a tenement in South Boston, Massachusetts. Kamila Gibran sold lace to support her four children and opened a small dry goods store. While registering for public school, Gibran's name was shortened and changed.
His life changed when a settlement house art teacher noticed his artistic skill. Florence Peirce with Jessie Fremont Beale, a philanthropist, arranged for Gibran's introduction to Fred Holland Day in December 1896.
A Boston patron of literature and fine arts who was also an "artistic" photographer, Day used Gibran, his younger sisters Marianna and Sultana, half-brother Peter, and Kamila as models. After discovering Gibran's aptitude for literature and art, Day proclaimed him a "natural genius" and became his mentor. Gibran designed book illustrations, sketched portraits, and met Day's friends. He then went to Beirut, Lebanon, in 1898 to attend Madrasat-al-Hikmah, a Maronite college where he studied Arabic literature and cofounded a literary magazine.
Returning to Boston in 1902, he experienced family tragedy. During 1902 and 1903 Kamila, Sultana, and Peter died from disease. Marianna, a seamstress, supported both herself and Gibran, who resumed his art work and renewed his friendship with Day.
In 1903 Josephine Preston Peabody, a poetess and friend, arranged for an exhibition of his work at Wellesley College; in 1904 Gibran and another artist exhibited their work at Day's Boston studio. Here, Gibran met Mary Elizabeth Haskell, who became his patron and tutor in English for two decades. The owner of Miss Haskell's School for Girls and, later, headmistress of the Cambridge School, she believed he would have an outstanding future. She aided several talented, needy people and was a major factor in Gibran's success as an English writer and artist.
From 1908 to 1910 Haskell provided funds for Gibran to study painting and drawing in Paris. Before going to France, he studied English literature with her and had an essay, "al-Musiqa" (1905), published by the Arabic immigrant press in New York City.
Diverse influences, including Boston's literary world, the English Romantic poets, mystic William Blake, and philosopher Nietzsche, combined with his Besharri experience, shaped Gibran's artistic and literary career. Although his drawings depict idealized, romantic figures, the optimistic philosophy of his later writing resulted from a painful personal evolution. Understanding Gibran's attitude towards authority gives greater insight to his work in English.
Gibran opposed Ottoman Turkish rule and the Maronite Church's strict social control. After "Spirits Rebellious," an Arabic poem, was published in 1908, Gibran was called a reformer and received widespread recognition in the Arabic world. Other Arabic writings, including "Broken Wings" (1912), were published in New York where a large Syrian-Lebanese community flourished. He became the best known of the "Mahjar poets" or immigrant Arabic writers. His most respected Arabic poem is the "The Procession" (1919). He was president of Arrabitah, a literary society founded in New York in 1920 to infuse "a new life in modern Arabic literature."
Gibran sought and won acceptance from New York's artistic and literary world. His first work in English appeared in 1918 when The Madman was published by the American firm of Alfred A. Knopf. The sometimes cynical parables and poems on justice, freedom, and God are illustrated by three of Gibran's drawings. In 1919 Knopf published Gibran's Twenty Drawings; in 1920 The Forerunner appeared. Each book sold a few hundred copies. In October 1923 The Prophet was published; it sold over 1,000 copies in three months.
The slim volume of parables, illustrated with Gibran's drawings, is one of America's all-time best selling books; its fame spreads by word of mouth. Critics call it overly sentimental. By 1986, however, almost eight million copies—all hard-bound editions—had been sold in the United States alone. Several of his other works enjoyed substantial sales. Gibran bequeathed his royalties to Besharri; ironically, the gift caused years of feuding among village families.
Gibran's views on the brotherhood of man and man's unity with nature appeal primarily to young and old readers. The parables present a refreshing, new way of looking at the world that has universal appeal. By 1931 The Prophet had been translated into 20 languages. In the 1960s it reached new heights of popularity with American college students.
Although in failing health, Gibran completed two more books in English—Sand and Foam (1926) and Jesus, The Son of Man (1928)—that illustrate his philosophy. After his death earlier essays were compiled and published, and his Arabic work has been translated into many languages.
Gibran was 48 when he died in New York City on April 10, 1931, of cancer of the liver. The Arabic world eulogized him as a genius and patriot. A grand procession greeted his body upon its return to Besharri for burial in September 1931. Today, Arabic scholars praise Gibran for introducing Western romanticism and a freer style to highly formalized Arabic poetry. "Gibranism," the term used for his approach, attracted many followers.
In America, the West Tenth Street Studio for Artists in Greenwich Village, where he lived after 1911, has been replaced with a modern apartment building. But Gibran's books are in countless libraries and book stores. Five art works, including a portrait sketch of Albert Pinkham Ryder, are at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the gift of his patron Mary Haskell Minis.
The young emigrant from Lebanon who came through Ellis Island in 1895 never became an American citizen: he loved his birthplace too much. But he was able to combine two heritages and achieved lasting fame in widely different cultures. These two aphorisms from Sand and Foam convey Gibran's message:
Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.
How can you sing if your mouth be filled with food? How shall your hand be raised in blessing if it is filled with gold?
The definitive biography of Gibran in English by Jean Gibran and Kahlil Gibran, Kahlil Gibran, His Life and World (1974), documents his life through letters, notebooks, and diaries. Beloved Prophet, The Love Letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell and Her Private Journal (1972), edited by Virginia Hilu, reveals the complex relationship between Gibran and his longtime patron. An early biography, This Man from Lebanon (1945) by Barbara Young, presents an uncritical view. A more realistic but undocumented study is Mikhail Naimah, Kahlil Gibran, A Biography (1950). Khalil S. Hawi, Kahlil Gibran: His Background, Character, and Works (1963) is a detailed study, but the author lacked access to important sources. Studies on Arabic literature that discuss Gibran include: Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Trends and Movements in Modern Arabic Poetry (1977), Vol. I; M. M. Badawi, A Critical Introduction to Modern Arabic Poetry (1971), Ch. 5, "The Emigrant Poets."
Gibran, Jean, Kahlil Gibran, his life and world, Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1974.
Gibran, Jean, Kahlil Gibran, his life and world, New York: Interlink Books, 1991.
Hawi, Khalil S., Kahlil Gibran: his background, character, and works, London: Third World Centre for Research & Publishing, 1982, 1972. □
Lebanese writer and artist Kahlil Gibran influenced modern Arabic literature and composed inspirational pieces in English, including The Prophet.
Childhood and early career
Kahlil Gibran, baptized Gibran Khalil Gibran, the oldest child of Khalil Gibran and his wife Kamila Rahme, was born January 6, 1883, in Besharri, Lebanon, then part of Syria and the Ottoman Turkish Empire. His childhood in a village beneath Mt. Lebanon included few comforts, and he had no formal early education. However, he received a strong spiritual influence from legends and biblical stories handed down through generations.
Seeking a better future, the family, except for his father, moved to the United States in 1895. There they joined relatives and shared an apartment in South Boston, Massachusetts. While registering for public school, Gibran's name was shortened and changed. His life changed when a local art teacher noticed his artistic skill and arranged for Gibran's introduction to photographer Fred Holland Day in December 1896. After discovering Gibran's talent for literature and art, Day declared him to be a "natural genius" and became his mentor, or teacher. Gibran soon designed book illustrations, sketched portraits, and met Day's friends. He then went to Beirut, Lebanon, in 1898 to attend Madrasat-al-Hikmah, a college where he studied Arabic literature and started a literary magazine.
An inspired career
Upon returning to Boston, Gibran resumed his art work and renewed his friendship with Day. In 1904 Gibran and another artist exhibited their work at Day's studio in Boston. Here Gibran met Mary Elizabeth Haskell, who became his patron (supporter) as well as his tutor in English for two decades. She aided several talented, needy people and was a major factor in Gibran's success as an English writer and artist.
From 1908 to 1910 Haskell provided funds for Gibran to study painting and drawing in Paris, France. Before going to France, he studied English literature with her and had an essay, "al-Musiqa" (1905), published by the Arabic immigrant press in New York City. Diverse influences, including Boston's literary world, the English Romantic poets, mystic William Blake (1757–1827), and philosopher Nietzsche (1844–1900), combined with his experience in Lebanon, shaped Gibran's artistic and literary career.
After "Spirits Rebellious," an Arabic poem, was published in 1908, Gibran was called a reformer (one who seeks social improvements) and quickly became influential in the Arabic world. He soon became the best known of the "Mahjar poets," or immigrant Arabic writers. His most respected Arabic poem is the "The Procession" (1919).
Gibran soon made his mark on the New York artistic and literary world as well. His first work in English appeared in 1918 when The Madman was published. The parables (stories that illustrate a moral or religious lesson) and poems on justice, freedom, and God are illustrated by three of Gibran's own drawings.
In October 1923 The Prophet was published, and it sold over one thousand copies in three months. The slim volume of parables, illustrated with Gibran's drawings, is one of America's all-time best selling books, with its fame spreading by word of mouth. By 1931 The Prophet had been translated into twenty languages. In the 1960s it reached new heights of popularity with American college students.
Later career and legacy
Although in failing health, Gibran completed two more books in English—Sand and Foam (1926) and Jesus, The Son of Man (1928). After his death, earlier essays were compiled and published, and his Arabic work was translated into many languages.
Gibran was forty-eight when he died in New York City on April 10, 1931, of cancer of the liver. The Arabic world praised him after his death as a genius and patriot. A large group greeted his body upon its return to Besharri for burial in September 1931. Today Arabic scholars praise Gibran for introducing Western romanticism and a freer style to strict Arabic poetry. "Gibranism," the term used for his approach, attracted many followers.
The young emigrant from Lebanon who came through Ellis Island in 1895 never became an American citizen; he loved his birthplace too much. But he was able to combine two heritages and achieved lasting fame in widely different cultures. The following passage from Sand and Foam illustrates Gibran's message:
Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking. How can you sing if your mouth be filled with food? How shall your hand be raised in blessing if it is filled with gold?
For More Information
Gibran, Jean, and Kahlil Gibran. Kahlil Gibran, His Life and World. New York: Interlink Books, 1991.
Hilu, Virginia. Beloved Prophet, The Love Letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell and Her Private Journal. New York: Knopf, 1972.
Young, Barbara. This Man from Lebanon. New York: Knopf, 1945.
Gibran, Kahlil (1883-1931)
Gibran, Kahlil (1883-1931)
Metaphysical poet and philosopher. He was born in the town of Bsharýe, Lebanon, traditionally the area of the forest of the Holy Cedars, which furnished timber for King Solomon's temple in ancient Jerusalem. Gibran was baptized in the Maronite (Eastern Rite) branch of the Roman Catholic Church and named after his paternal grandfather as Gibran Kahlil Gibran, a name he retained in Arabic, although he used the simpler "Kahlil Gibran" in his English writings.
He was educated in Lebanon and emigrated to the United States with his family when he was 12, settling in Boston in 1895. There he attended a public school but he returned to the Middle East for schooling two years later.
In Lebanon he studied at the Madrasat Al-Hikmat (The School of Wisdom), founded by the Maronite bishop Joseph Debs in Beirut. After graduation he traveled in Syria and Lebanon, visiting historic places.
In 1902 he returned to the United States to dedicate himself to painting, and in 1908 went to Paris to study under famous sculptor Auguste Rodin at the Academy of Fine Arts. He then returned to the United States once again, where he continued to paint. Gibran wrote many books of mystical inspiration that dramatize a quest of self-fulfillment, of which The Prophet (1923) is by far the most popular.
Gibran, Kahlil. Beloved Prophet: The Love Letters of Kahhil Gibran and Mary Haskell and her Private Journal. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972.
——. Earth Gods. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1931.
——. Gibran: A Self-Portrait. New York: Citadel, 1959.
——. Jesus the Son of Man. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956.
——. The Prophet. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1923.
——. Sand and Foam. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926.
——. Wisdom of Kahlil Gibran. New York: Philosophical Library, 1966.
Hawi, Khalil. Kahlil Gibran: His Background, Character, and Works. Beirut, 1963.
Nu'aymah, Mikha'il. Kahlil Gibran: A Biography. New York: Quartet, 1988.
Sherfan, Andrew Dib. Kahlil Gibran: The Nature of Love. New York: Philosophical Library, 1971.
Young, Barbara. This Man from Lebanon: A Study of Kahlil Gibran. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, n.d.
Kahlil Gibran (kəlēl´ jĬbrän´), 1883–1931, Lebanese poet and novelist. His family emigrated to America in 1895 and settled in Boston; Gibran moved to New York City in 1911. In all, he wrote eight books in English and nine in Arabic. Fusing elements of Eastern and Western mysticism, he achieved lasting fame with The Prophet (1923), a collection of 26 inspirational prose poems, presented as sermons preached by a sage. The book, a perennial best seller since its publication, was particularly popular in the 1960s. His other books, also aphoristic and poetic, include Jesus, the Son of Man (1928) and The Garden of the Prophet (1934). A volume of his collected works was published in 2007.
See biographies by K. and J. Gibran (rev. ed. 1991), S. Bushrui and J. Jenkins and R. Waterfield (both: 1999).