The Kahlil Gibran Collective
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Al-Bada’i’ wa al-tara’if (Best Things and Masterpieces), a collection of thirty-five of Gibran’s pieces, was published in Cairo in 1923. The works had been selected by the publisher, and the collection is uneven and miscellaneous. It includes several short articles on major Arab thinkers, illustrated with portraits drawn from Gibran’s imagination, and prose poems and sketches of the sort familiar from his earlier collections. Two pieces are of more interest than the others. “Safinat al-dubab” (A Ship in the Mist) is a strange romantic short story. A lonely young man dreams of a woman who visits him continually in his sleep and is his wife in spirit. When he is sent to Venice, he finds her; but she has just died. Iram, dhat al-’imad (Iram, City of Lofty Pillars) is a one-act play set in a city mentioned in the Qur’an. A young scholar, Najib Rahma, comes to the mysterious city seeking a prophetess, Amina al-’Alawiya, who is said to have visited there. He first meets her disciple, the dervish Zayn al-’Abidin; then Amina al-’Alawiya appears and expounds a monistic mystical philosophy.