Poet, writer, philosopher, musician and artist Gibran was born in Bsharre, north Lebanon.
Who is Gibran Khalil Gibran?
He is the most important Arabic language writer of the early 20th century. His style and his subjects were a departure from the writings of the day.
Gibran Khalil Gibran grew up in an unhappy home with a harsh, alcoholic father. In 1895 his mother took him and his three siblings and immigrated to a suburb of Boston.
Three years later the family returned to Lebanon. At al-Hikma school he was an unfocused student but continued his education. He fell in love with a girl whom tradition would not approve of. He experienced a tragedy in 1902 when his mother, his brother and one of his sisters died.
Gibran Khalil Gibran lived in Paris for two years where he studied painting, then returned to the US and continued writing and publishing short stories and poetry. In 1912 he published a story in Arabic called “Broken Wings” about love that is hampered by tradition and convention.
In 1920 he created a literary circle called “al-rabita al-qalamiya” (Pen Circle) which included other young Arab writers in New York who were dedicated to modernism.
Gibran Khalil Gibran died at the young age of 48.
His best known works in English are: “the Prophet”, published in 1923 and an immediate success and translated in to 20 languages, “Jesus, Son of Man”, and “Gibran’s Love Letters” to May Ziadah a Syrian writer and intellectual with whom he corresponded for many years.
Gibran Khalil Gibran was scathing in his criticism of eastern/ Arab society which was steeped in tradition and regressive in outlook. He called for the unlocking of the chains that prevent people from living a free life, but he was not taken seriously. In America he was surprised to see that people were chained to their pursuit of money.
He wrote: “I wrote over the threshold of my house: leave your traditions and enter. No one entered.”