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Kahlil Gibran

KAHLIL GIBRAN (1883-1931)
BOOKS ::: POET :::

Primarily known as a poet, painter and philosopher, Kahlil Gibran is widely known as one of the most prominent Arab-American writers of the 20th century. Gibran is the 3rd best-selling poet of all time and his book, The Prophet, has sold over 12 million copies in the United States alone.

You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.

Kahlil Gibran was born to a father who worked for the local government in Lebanon and a mother who was skilled in tailoring and worked as a seamstress. His father, who was his wifeís third husband and a gambling addict, was imprisoned for embezzlement when Kahlil was 8. As a result, his parents decided to move the family to America to escape his fatherís legal problems and start a new life.

After passing through Ellis Island, the Gibrans settled in Bostonís South End, which at the time was was the 2nd-largest Syrian-Lebanese-American community in the United States. Early on in Kahlilís education in America he became an understudy of the well-known Boston artist Fred Holland Day and Kahlilís drawings at the age of 17 were published in the form of book covers, presumably for text books.

During his early education, Kahlil decided to return to his homeland of Lebanon to learn about his heritage and would eventually return to Boston and held his first art exhibition in 1904 at Fred Holland Dayís studio. Kahlil would then proceed to cross the Atlantic for a fourth time to study art (most notably watercolor) in Paris. After returning to the United States for a 3rd time, Kahlil made his home in New York City and joined the New York Pen League, which was a notable publication for immigrant poets. It is important to note that most of Kahlilís early literary publications were in Arabic, not English.

Kahlil Gibranís most famous publication, The Prophet, was published in 1923 and would go on to be translated into more than 40 languages and was one of the bestselling books of the 20th century in the United States, has actually never gone out of print. The Prophet has been noted to influence some of the most notable artists of the 1960ís, including Elvis Presley, David Bowie, John Lennon, WB Yeats, Carl Jung and August Rodin.

Gibranís writings and art deal with a variety of topics and issues including religion, politics, counterculture, romanticism, symbolism, surrealism, music, and feminism. The most notable influence on his literature and art was a poet named Francis Marrash who is considered to be the "first truly cosmopolitan Arab intellectual and writer of modern times."

In terms of marital relationships, Gibran had a lifelong partner by the name of Youssef Howayek and in addition, had a lifelong relationship with another woman named Mary Elizabeth Haskel, but it is not clear if it their relationship was intimate. Kahlil Gibran died on April 10th, 1931 in New York City of cirrhosis of the liver and tuberculosis. Gibran had asked to be buried in his home country and upon the arrival of his body in Lebanon there was great fanfare and celebration due to his worldwide fame.



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