by Philippe Maryssael, retired translator and terminologist, Arlon, Belgium, December 20, 2020.
In 1923, Kahlil Gibran’s third book in English was published by Alfred Abraham Knopf in New York, The Prophet: twenty-eight sermons of wisdom with twelve paintings that add an extra dimension to the text.
Way back in 1978, when Philippe Maryssael was 16 years old, he read the second French translation by Camille Aboussouan (published in 1956) and was deeply moved by the beauty and universal appeal of the text. A few years later, during his translation studies, he discovered the text in English. He knew in his heart that, one day, he would do something with it… Forty-two years later, Philippe’s personal translation was published. This new version, the 30th in French, is the very first that presents both the English and French texts side by side, enabling the reader to embark on a special journey through the minds of the author and his translator.
This new translation is based on the first edition’s fourth print of January 1925. In the first, second and third prints (respectively September 1923, March 1924 and August 1924), the first sentence at the beginning of page 10 reads “And you, vast see, sleeping mother.” In the fourth print, that very sentence reads “And you, vast see, sleepless mother.” In November 2019, this small word change was the subject of an in-depth analysis in the post titled “And you, vast sea,...” How one small word change changed quite a lot.
The foreword to Le Prophète is by the Lebanese author and translator Abdallah Naaman, one of the distinguished speakers during the 5th International Conference on Kahlil Gibran (Conference programme and Conference proceedings) that took place in Paris, France, on October 3, 2019.
Two essays by Francesco Medici, the Italian scholar and translator of Gibran, have been translated in the introduction to Le Prophète: An Arabic Garment for the Prophet (Le Prophète, la première traduction arabe) and ‘Il Profeta’ di Kahlil Gibran riletto attraverso le sue tavole illustrative (Le Prophète, douze illustrations).
Earlier this year, Philippe published his personal translation of Sand and Foam under the title Le Sable et l’Écume. In February 2019, Philippe published his first Gibran translation: Le Fol (The Madman).