The Kahlil Gibran Collective

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The Kahlil Gibran Digital Archive

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Gibran’s masterpiece, The Prophet, was published in September 1923. The earliest references to a mysterious prophet counseling his people before returning to his island home can be found in Haskell’s journal from 1912. Gibran worked on it from time to time and had finished much of it by 1919. He seems to have written it in Arabic and then translated it into English. As with most of his English books, Haskell acted as his editor, correcting Gibran’s chronically defective spelling and punctuation but also suggesting improvements in the wording. The work begins with the prophet Almustafa preparing to leave the city of Orphalese, where he has lived for twelve years, to return to the island of his birth. The people of the city gather and beg him not to leave, but the seeress Almitra, knowing that his ship has come for him, asks him instead to tell them his truths. The people ask him about the great themes of human life: love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, and many others, concluding with death. Almustafa speaks of each of the themes in sober, sonorous aphorisms grouped into twenty-six short chapters. As in earlier books, Gibran illustrated The Prophet with his own drawings, adding to the power of the work. The Prophet received tepid reviews in Poetry and The Bookman, an enthusiastic review in the Chicago Evening Post, and little else. On the other hand, the public reception was intense. It began with a trickle of grateful letters; the first edition sold out in two months; 13,000 copies a year were sold during the Great Depression, 60,000 in 1944, and 1,000,000 by 1957. Many millions of copies were sold in the following decades, making Gibran the best-selling American poet of the twentieth century. It is clear that the book deeply moved many people. When critics finally noticed it, they were baffled by the public response; they dismissed the work as sentimental, overwritten, artificial, and affected. Neither The Prophet nor Gibran’s work, in general, are mentioned in standard accounts of twentieth-century American literature, though Gibran is universally considered a major figure in Arabic literature. Part of the critical puzzlement stems from a failure to appreciate an Arabic aesthetic: The Prophet is a Middle Eastern work that stands closer to eastern didactic classics such as the Book of Job and the works of the twelfth- and thirteenth-century Persian poets Rumi and Sa’di than to anything in the modern American canon. Gibran knew that he would never surpass The Prophet, and for the most part, his later works do not come close to measuring up to it. The book made him a celebrity, and his monastic lifestyle added to his mystique.

Tags: 1923, knopf, NewYork, TheProphet

In Digital Archive

Autumn Exhibition [Catalogue], Season 1915-1916, New York: Montross Gallery, October 2-23, 1915.

Tags: 1915, Catalogue, Exhibiton, kahlilgibran, MontrossGallery, NewYork

In Digital Archive

Elia Abu Madi [Īlīyā Abū Māḍī], Diwān Īlīyā Abū Māḍī, Muqaddimah Jubrān Khalīl Jubrān [Introduction by Kahlil Gibran], New York: Matba'at Mir'at al-Gharb, 1919, pp. 3-5.

Tags: 1919, diwanlliyaabumadi, eliaabumadi, introduction, Mira'atal-gharb, NewYork

In Digital Archive

George W. Russell (A.E.), Kahil Gibran, in The Living Torch, Edited by Monk Gibbon, New York: The Macmillan Company, 1938, pp. 168-169.

 
Tags: 1938, critic, GeorgeW.Russell(A.E), livingtorch, NewYork

In Digital Archive

Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in New York, Juxta Publishing, 2012.
Tags: 2012, Abdu’l-Bahá, HillaryChapman, HusseinAhdieh, NewYork

In Digital Archive

Witter Bynner, The New World, New York: Knopf, 1922 [Frontispiece portrait of the Author by Kahlil Gibran, 1919].
Tags: 1919, 1922, knopf, NewYork, portrait, WitterBynner

In Digital Archive

Witter Bynner (Emmanuel Morgan), Pins for Wings, Caricatures by Ivan Opffer and William Saphier, New York: The Sunrise Turn, Inc., 1920, p. 15.

Tags: 1920, Caricatures, frontpiece, NewYork, WitterBynner

In Digital Archive

Ruth Danenhower, Artist Puts Roosevelt, Wilson and Edison in His Temple of Fame, The New York Press, Sunday Morning, June 7, 1914, p. 9.

Tags: 1914, article, newspaper, NewYork, Roosevelt, RuthDanenhower, TempleofFame, TheNewYorkPress, Wilson

In Digital Archive

In 1919 Knopf published a collection of Gibran’s art works as Twenty Drawings, with Alice Raphael’s essay as an introduction. The pictures are not his best work; the book did not draw much attention, and the one review was ambivalent. It is Gibran’s only book published in the West that has gone out of print.

Tags: 1919, knopf, NewYork, TwentyDrawings

In Digital Archive

The Great Recurrence, New York Herald Tribune Magazine (The Sunday Star), Dec. 23, 1928, p. 19.

Tags: 1928, magazine, NewYork

In Digital Archive

al-Sanabil [The Spikes of Grain], New York: As-Sayeh, 1929. 
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The last of Gibran’s Arabic books was published in 1929. Al-Sanabil [The Spikes of Grain] is a commemorative anthology of his works that was presented to him at an Arrabitah banquet.
Tags: 1929, anthology, arabic, book, NewYork

In Digital Archive

Gibran Kahlil Gibran: Registration Card (September 12, 1918)

Tags: 1918, NewYork, RegistrationCard, report

In Digital Archive

Gibran Kahlil Gibran, 25 Dollar Check, Bank of the Manhattan Company, New York, 14 August 1928. 
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Gibran was holder of an account at the Bank of the Manhattan Company (31 Union Square, New York City). This twenty-five dollar check dated 14 August 1928 and signed by him as «G.K. Gibran» was made out to his fellow citizen Joseph Salah of Bisharri, owner of the Sheik Restaurant which was situated in Boston at 199 Longwood Ave.
Tags: 1928, Bank, Check, NewYork

In Digital Archive

Mercedes de Acosta, Here Lies the Heart: A Tale of My Life, New York: Reynal, 1960, pp. 91-93, 105, 140.

Mercedes de Acosta (1892-1968) was an American poet, playwright, and novelist. De Acosta wrote almost a dozen plays, only four of which were produced, and she published a novel and three volumes of poetry. She was professionally unsuccessful but is known for her many lesbian relationships with famous Broadway and Hollywood personalities and numerous friendships with prominent artists of the period.

Tags: 1917, 1960, memoirs, Mercedesdeacosta, NewYork

In Digital Archive

Records of Haskell's visits to Gibran in New York City. Contains a letter from Arthur Farwell, the president of the American Music Society.
 
Minis Family Papers, 1739-1948, Subseries 2.3. Diaries, 1894-1944 and undated, Minis Family Papers #2725, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Tags: 1944, ChapelHill, Correspondence, Dairies, Letters, maryelizabethhaskell, MinisFamilyPapers, NCU, NewYork, SouthernHistoricalCollection, SubSeries2.3

In Digital Archive

Miss Barbara Young Will Talk on Gibran, "Democrat and Chronicle" (Rochester, New York), 02 Nov 1933, Thu, p. 8.

Tags: 1933, article, BarbaraYoung, news, newspaper, NewYork

In Digital Archive

Letter of Barbara Young to Mr. Isham (and a sketch by Gibran), New York City, 26th April 1931.
 
Young states 'You have been many times in my thoughts since the hour you spent with the great pictures in the Studio' and continues 'All that is now over. We are sailing May 4th for England, then the continent and eventually Syria. The pictures will go almost intact to Beshari', adding that some will remain in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Young further adds 'I am sending you a sketch which Gibran once sent me in a letter - and was therefore by his own hand. This is my recognition of your beautiful understanding of his work.' 
Tags: 1931, BarbaraYoung, Isham, NewYork, Sketch

In Digital Archive

Barbara Young presents the Works of Kahlil Gibran [Scrapbook], New York 1933 [excerpts].
 
A photo album kept by Barbara Young and used as a scrapbook to house photographs from an exhibit she curated in 1933 at the Sherman Square Hotel in New York City of the works of Kahlil Gibran. This Album is now part of the private collection of Glen Kalem. 
Tags: 1933, BarbaraYoung, Exhibiton, GlenKalem, NewYork, photograpghs, scrapbook