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  • NO PLAGIARISM
  • PLEASE FOLLOW ALL OF THE BULLET POINTS AND INSTRUCTIONS

Part 1: Is uploaded already in the file that says Part 1 of Gibran Project. All you have to for Part 1 is to include it with the rest of the work that you are doing.

Part 11:  Background on Kahlil Gibran.

Please include pictures of Gibran In this part

Genre

form

Style

Influences

What other artists and writers were living during his time

Music inspired by Prophet

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  • Part 111: Scholarly Opinions. THE SIX SOURCES IS INCLUDED IN THE FILE UPLOAD.

Research the six sources on the class website titled: Kahlil Gibran: Literary Innovations

What do scholars write about Gibran; pro and con

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EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY: THE CASE OF ARAB-AMERICAN WRITERS HALIM BARAKAT And hence an exile am I, and an exile I shall remain until death lifts me up and bears me even unto my country. Gibran, from The Tempests Phoenix, your banishment and mine are one. Adonis This inquiry into the life and works of Arab-American writers is part of a much broader attempt at free exploration into the nature of an intricate process of inter-relationships between creativity and exile. In a previous unpublished work in Arabic, I originally conducted such an inquiry focusing on literary creativity associated with a pecu- liar form of migration (hijra) akin to alienation and uprootedness. At the time I envisioned this form of hijra as intertwined with profound and enduring feelings of exile as a result of a continuing identification with and a lasting nostalgia for one’s native country in contrast to another form of voluntary hijra that ends in self-fusion or immersion into and adoption of the identity of the host country.1 For sometime since then, I have been trying to develop my views in this area benefiting from related works in the fields of sociology of literature and sociology of knowledge and cultural studies in gen- eral, focusing more specifically on comparative studies of literature of exile. I benefited as well from the experiences of my generation of Arab writers currently residing in Europe and America and my own personal experience as portrayed in my novel Ta’ir al-Howm (The Crane, 1988). Throughout this search, I began to formulate some general observ- ations about broader conditions contributing to creativity in Arabic 1 Halim Barakat, “Tasa’ulat hawla al-cAlaqa bayn al-Ibdac wa 1-Hijra” (Inquiries into the relationship between creativity and migration), a presentation at Assila cul- tural festival on Arab intellectuals abroad (al-mufakkirun al-carab fi l-mahjar), Morocco, August 24-27, 1987. This presentation was further developed and delivered at a seminar for the Middle East section of the Library of Congress celebrating its 50 years of service, Sept. 29, 1995. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 305 literature: the severity of exile, Ovidian banishment, encounters of civilizations, cultural pluralism, and sanctuaries that provide safe dis- tances from centers of political and social-cultural authorities in home countries. With this task in mind, I began to wonder about the secrets behind the rich innovativeness of the Abbasid and Andalusian Arabic writ- ings and the role they played in the development of new forms of cultural expressions. Hence the preoccupation of Arab literary crit- ics with social and cultural diversity in the Abbasid period and con- tinuity and change in Andalusian poetry.2 This has led me in turn to broaden my observations by examining those peculiarities of his- torical periods which witnessed special cultural innovativeness as dur- ing the Abbasid era—an era characterized by decentralization of political and social authority, emergence of pluralism and fermenta- tion of inter-cultural exchange between the dominant civilizations at the time. Two other periods—those following the weakening and collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the second half of the twenti- eth century which witnessed several crises leading to the develop- ment of acute consciousness and critical thought bent on re-examining Arab reality. I must point out that I have been encouraged to pursue this inter- est of mine in exploring the nature of relationship between exile and creativity because of its acute relevance to the understanding of the lengthy transitional modern period through which Arab society has been undergoing severe crises. Throughout this century, there have been constant Arab intellectual migration to Europe and the Americas. Here, I am referring in particular to the migration at the turn of the century and subsequent appearance of literary circles and works which contributed to the modernization or even the revolutioniza- tion of Arabic writings. The founding in 1921 of al-Rabita al-Qalamiyya (Pen League) by Gibran Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), Mikhail Nu’aymah (1889-1988), Iliya Abu Madi (1890-1957), and a few oth- ers represented the maturity of the mahjari cultural movement which constituted the first significant wave of literary modernity in con- temporary Arab life. It is this movement in my opinion which is most illustrative of my argument with respect to the existence of a positive relationship between creativity and exile. Before I attempt 2 Salma Khadra Jayyusi, “Al-Shi’r al-Andalusi: al-cAlaqa maca al-Mashriq,” Nadwa. no. 3 (June 1995). Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 306 HALIM BARAKAT to develop this thesis, however, I feel obligated to define both con- cepts with some elaboration. My definition of exile is not restricted to forceful banishment by political authorities. The literature in this area of research has often distinguished between involuntary and voluntary forms of exile. In the former case, as stated by Bettina L. Knapp, a person is “ban- ished or expelled from one’s native land by authoritative decree” in comparison to the latter situation where “one escapes persecution, evades punishment or stressful circumstances, or carves out a new existence for oneself.”3 Knapp also distinguished between exoteric and esoteric forms of exile. By the former, she referred to “banishment outside country”— a form which “may be identified with extroverted behavioral pat- terns” whereby “meaning and value are applied mostly to external objects rather than to inner subjective matters.”4 An instance of exo- teric exile, according to Knapp, is the flight or Hijra of Prophet Muhammad to Yathrib. “Esoteric or private exile”, on the other hand, “suggests a withdrawal on the part of individual from the empirical realm and a desire to live predominantly in the inner world.”5 Thus, to live inwardly or in the subliminal realms is to exile oneself from outside relationships. An instance of this esoteric expe- rience is represented by Islamic mystics who preach spiritual and emotional exile.6 To illustrate her views, Knapp refers to Voltaire, Heine, and Hugo who exiled themselves from their native land. During Hugo’s eighteen- year exile (1852-70) from France, he wrote some of his greatest poems. For Proust who considered true life to exist only in the cre- ative process, esoteric exile became a way of life. Joseph Conrad knew both exoteric and esoteric exile. His Heart of Darkness (1902) was written after his journey/exile to Central Africa. Similarly, James Joyce chose exile from his native Ireland. Several other most inno- vative writers such as Henry James, Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passes, W.H. Auden, and Aldous Huxley were displaced from their native lands. There were also Latin 3 Bettina L. Knapp, Exile and the Writer: Exoteric and Esoteric Experiences in A Jungian Approach (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991), 1. 4 Ibid., 1-2. 5 Ibid, 1-2. 6 Ibid, 6. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 307 American writers including Carlos Fuentes, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez who had the same experiences producing some of the best literary works of this century.7 It is in Knapp’s view that “to retreat into the transpersonal inner recesses of the psyche, defined by C.G.Jung, as the collective uncon- scious … is to penetrate a world inaccessible for the most part to conscious understanding.”8 Thus it is from the collective unconscious and mythical layers that great writers draw their best materials. That may explain why ships and sea voyages, symbolically viewed, involve passages through space and time, suggesting an unconscious need on the part of travelers to recast their life experiences in the most creative forms. This is embodied in Noah’s Ark, Buddha’s role as “the great Navigator”, Osiris’ “Night Sea Crossing”, and Gilgamesh’s voyage to the ocean of death. Hence the view of exile as an art. In the first century A.D., the poet Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) was banished to a remote village of the Black Sea. Inspired by this experience of exile from his native Latin tongue, novelist David Malouf wrote an unusually poetic and moving work of fiction enti- tled An Imaginary Life, a metamorphosis of the poet Ovid in exile. Hence the stirring of new life and painful transformation in the midst of aimless wanderings in lands of fables. By seeing the world through the language of the other, he began to see it differently. Yet in this timeless place, his past reoccurs in all its fullness. Establishing close contact with the other has come to mean re-establishment of con- tact with an enriched self. Beyond boundaries, his mind ventures freely in land of mystery. Thus, his childhood began to return to him discovering his humanity at last. By undergoing these changes, a whisper is heard: “I am the border beyond which you must go if you are to find your true life.”9 There are those Arab writers who chose exile from their native land and they continue to do so in waves. Some, not unlike Odysseus, wandered about the seas of the world hoping for return. There was also those who knew both exoteric and esoteric exile the way Joseph Conrad did. For others, as for Proust or Joyce, exile became a way of life discovering in it a true precondition of creativity. In exile, they wrote their greatest works. This must have led to what is called 7 Ibid, 11-12. 8 Ibid, 13. 9 David Malouf, An Imaginary Life (Vintage International, 1996), 136. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 308 HALIM BARAKAT in Arabic adab al-mahjar (emegre literature) as distinct from literature produced within the native country. The same is true of what is called literature of exile on world wide level which is often produced during a prolonged separation from one’s country. One may also identify a special form of exile whereby writers may refrain from publishing their works inside their native countries or resort to the use of symbols and metaphors in an attempt to escape state censorship and persecution. In fact, my interest in the inter- play of creativity and exile can best be understood in the context of discussing the marginality of Arab writers in their own native land. That may explain why Arab writers who reside abroad have often been told that they can better serve Arab cause by being outside rather than inside. While this exile at home may be among the most severe forms of alienation, the scope of this paper and limited time will not allow me to give it more than a passing reference. For Edward Said, himself banished from his native country and tongue, exile “is predicated on the existence of love for, and a real bond with one’s native place; the universal truth of exile is not that one has lost that love or home . . .”10 In the same context, he notes that exile “far from being the fate of nearly forgotten unfortunates who are dispossessed and expatriated, becomes something closer to a norm, an experience of crossing boundaries and charting new ter- ritories . . .”11 On the other hand and with his own experience as a Palestinian in mind, Said perceives of exile as “the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home. The essential sadness of the break can never be surmounted.”12 In this respect, he adds that “exile is fundamentally a discontinuous state of being. Exiles are cut off from their roots, their land, their past.”13 Having perceived of exile as “one of the saddest fates” and “a condition of terminal loss,” Said then wonders why is it that exile has been “transformed into a potent, even enriching, motif of mod- ern culture,” and concludes that exile “means that you are always 10 Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (N.Y.: Alfred Knopf, 1993), 336. 11 Ibid., 317. 12 “The Mind of Winter: Reflections on Life in Exile,” Harper’s Magazine (Sept., 1984): 49-55. 13 Ibid., 51. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 309 going to be marginal, and that what you do as an intellectual has to be made up because you cannot follow a prescribed path.”14 In Representations of the Intellectual, Said draws our attention to the transformation of exile during the twentieth century from exquisite punishment of special individuals into a cruel punishment of whole communities and peoples. In this category he places Armenians, Palestinians and others who have been victimized by widespread ter- ritorial rearrangements. Because of this condition which he describes as metaphorical, he focused on exiled intellectuals who will not make the adjustments required by living in the host country, “preferring instead to remain outside the mainstream, unaccommodated, unco- opted, resistant.”15 This way the exiled intellectual leads the life of an unyielding and marginal outsider who resists prescribed ways of life. This metaphorical condition of marginality is what I consider a basic source of creativity as I would like to demonstrate later when I address myself to the works of mahjari writers. Here, however, I would point out that Arab-American writers cannot be considered as transplants the way the term was used by Conrad who defined a transplant as someone who is “uprooted” and whose “state of exis- tence” is “unnatural”.16 Conrad himself “turned to writing to tran- scend his transplantation turning the art of seamanship into the art of imaginative literature which became for him the means of sur- viving the hardships of his exile and coming to terms with his own transplanted existence.”17 In fact, he “was constantly haunted by feel- ings of guilt and remorse for leaving behind his trouble-ridden coun- try.”18 We are further told that one of the many paradoxes in Heart of Darkness “conveys Conrad’s view of exile: if a transplant fully identifies himself with the past, he is to die; if the complete identifica- tion is with the newly acquired present, the same fate awaits him.”19 The exile’s condition as defined by Edward Said generates feel- ings not only of sadness and nostalgia but also of wanting to explore 14 Ibid., 49, and Representations of the Intellectual (N.Y.: Pantheon Books, 1994), 62. 15 Ibid., 52. 16 Asher Z. Milbauer, Transcending Exile (Florida International University Press, 1985), xi. 17 Ibid., 4. 18 Ibid., 8. 19 Ibid., 21-22. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 310 HALIM BARAKAT uncharted horizons. Such are the exact feelings of exile expressed by Mahmud Darwish, the most celebrated of the Palestinian poets. His poetry conveys the feelings of sadness experienced by Palestinians living in a state of uprootedness or under occupation: Where should we go after the last frontiers, Where should the birds fly after the last sky?20 Such feelings are also as vividly expressed by Fawaz Turki, another exiled Palestinian writer who has lived a vulnerable condition of mar- ginality unable to accommodate the demands and norms of both the native and the host countries: If you have not met Palestinians in exile, you are fortunate …. They live inside the belly of the whale . . . waiting for the beast to spit them out.21 These feelings—as expressed by Darwish, Turki and others are not unlike those expressed in the Psalms of David during the Hebrews’ captivity: By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. By the rivers of Babylon, there lived a Palestinian in exile. His name was Jabra Ibrahim Jabra (whose name always resonated in my mind the name of Gibran Kahlil Gibran). Jabra told us (in a paper entitled”The Palestinian Exile as Writer”)22 that the “Palestinian may still be an exile and a wanderer, but his voice is raised in anger, not in 20 Edward W. Said, After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives (N.Y.: Pantheon Books, 1985), 2. 21 Fawaz Turki, Poems From Exile (Washington, D.C.: Free Palestine Press), 16-17. 22 Here it may be appropriate to mention that Jabra wrote this paper upon my request at a time when Hisham Sharabi and I agreed to prepare a special issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies on Palestinian society and culture. The project never materialized, but by reading Jabra’s letters to me (including two letters dated October 23, 1978 and November 21, 1978), I was reminded of the episode which I totally forgot. By going back to old issues of the Journal of Palestine Studies, I discovered to my amazement that the article mentioned in his letters was indeed published in issue 30 no. 2, vol. 7 (winter 1979): 77-87. The article was reprinted in a collec- tion of works by Jabra entitled A Celebration of Life: Essays on Literature and Art (Baghdad: Dar Al-Ma’mun, 1988), and in Jusoor, no. 7/8, 1996. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 311 lamentations”, and by losing Palestine, he further tells us, Palestinians began to realize they “had confronted a ruthless modern force with an outmoded tradition. Everything had to change. And change had to begin at the base, with a change of vision. A new way of look- ing at things. A new way of saying things. A new way of approach- ing and portraying man and the world.”23 This sense of loss in exile, according to Jabra “is a sense of hav- ing lost a part of an inner self, a part of an inner essence. An exile feels incomplete even though everything he could want physically were at his fingertips. He is obsessed by the thought that only a return home could do away with such a feeling, end the loss, rein- tegrate the inner self.”24 The sense of loss and wandering was both collective and personal, deeply rooted in their dispersal. To demon- strate that each Palestinian was an exile after his own fashion, Jabra recalls that Tawfiq Sayigh, a poet in exile no matter where he lived, had a famous dictum: “Worse than exile abroad is exile within one’s own homeland”, meaning by homeland the Arab world. The dom- inant theme of his poetry was alienation in exile. So was the story of his life as told by Jabra. He died as an exile at Berkeley, California, and was buried there in a vast cemetery, with a Chinese man on his right and a Japanese on his left: a stranger to the bitter end. What is more closely pertinent to my exploration in exile and cre- ativity is the conversation Jabra had with Arnold Toynbee in Baghdad back in 1957. Toynbee, Jabra says in the above paper, likened Palestinian expulsion from their country “to the expulsion by the Turks of Greek thinkers and artists from Byzantium in 1453; these thinkers then spread throughout Europe and were a major factor in ending the European dark ages and bringing about the Renaissance. The Palestinians, he told me, were having the same seminal influence on the Arab world. It was their fate to be the generators of a new age, the heralds of a new civilization. . . . Palestine had released into the world a force of radical change”.25 In his introduction to an edited book on Latin American litera- ture of exile, Hans-Bernhard Moeller similarly points out that “Exile 23 Jabra I. Jabra, “The Palestinian in Exile As Writer,” Journal of Palestine Studies, issue 30, no. 2, vol. 7 (winter 1979): 82. 24 Ibid., 83. 25 Ibid., 85. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 312 HALIM BARAKAT literature is produced during a prolonged separation from one’s coun- try by stress of circumstances.”26 This applies both to Palestinians as well as to other Arab migrants to the Americas whether forced to leave their countries or voluntary exiles. John M. Spalek stated in this edited volume that the general char- acteristics that cut across national boundaries and are common to all exile literatures include: preponderance of lyric poetry, prolific output of autobiographies, diaries, and autobiographical fiction which dwells on the past and childhood and confrontation with home coun- try. He also speaks of a sort of liberating experience of exile imply- ing the presence of closeness between exile and existential experience of being a stranger. In this sense, exile acts as a precondition of freedom. This in turn is inseparable from the exile’s experience of time as a dilemma of living in the past and the present. To this effect, the Spanish writer Francisco Ayala describes the exiled writ- ers as living in parentheses, i.e. between a frequently idealized past and a hope for return imparting their own awareness of time to their characters, and transforming such an experience of time into poetic metaphors.27 Furthermore, encounters or collision with host country may oscillate between the extremes of rejection and acceptance, withdrawal and immersion. In this way, exiled writers may live fragmented lives feel- ing certain obligations both to their native and host countries and creating their own sub-cultures, pending how much they have in common with adopted country. On the other hand, they may be enriched through the development of a universal vision as in the case of Amin al-Rihani and Gibran in spite of traumatic dislocations. David Bevan also pointed out in an introduction to an edited book on literature and exile that “both theorists and exiles themselves. . . have long debated whether the experience is predominantly one that invigorates or mutilates. For some, the sense of release, of critical distance, of renewed identity, of fusion or shock of cultures and even of languages, is interpreted as productive, generating a proposition that originality of vision must almost necessarily derive from the transgressing and transcending of frontiers. However, for others, phys- ical displacement means rather rejection, alienation, anguish and, 26 Hans-Bernhard Moeller (ed.), Latin America and the Literature of Exile (Heidelberg, 1983), 9. 27 Ibid., 82. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 313 quite possibly, suicide.”28 But he adds that both Henry James and Joseph Conrad left their countries for England, and “both seem to have adopted British customs and traditions with the peculiar inten- sity of religious converts”, but then adds that “both remained some- what ambivalent and unresolved about this decision.”29 Having outlined what is meant by exile, I must make a similar attempt at defining literary creativity. Here creativity is defined in terms of an unusual mental and emotional capacity, combined with special talents and strong motivation, to “uncover previously unknown interconnections between things”.30 In other words, it is something we are not used to seeing and relating to. C.R. Rogers also defined the creative process as “the emergence in action of a novel relational product, growing out of the unique- ness of the individual on the one hand, and the materials, events, people, or circumstances of his life on the other”.31 He further elab- orates that “the mainspring of creativity appears to be … man’s ten- dency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities.”32 In order to identify some of the basic elements of creativity, ref- erence may be made to Freud’s observation that a “child at play behaves like a creative writer, in that he creates a world of his own or, rather, rearranges the things of his world in a new way which pleases him.”33 He adds that the “creative writer does the same thing as the child at play. He creates a world of phantasy which he takes very seriously that is, which he invests with large amounts of emo- tion.”34 Furthermore, we are told that the motive forces of phan- tasies are unsatisfied wishes. Hence the relation in his opinion of phantasies to dreams, and the comparison of the imaginative writer with the dreamer in broad daylight, and of creations with day dreams. Arab writers have their own share of the attempts at defining cre- ativity, which may prove more relevant to my task in exploring the nature of its interrelationship to exile. cAbd al-Kablr al-Khatibl argues 28 David Bevan (ed.), Literature and Exile (Amsterdam-Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1990), 4. 29 Ibid. 30 Georg Lukacs, Studies in European Realism (N.Y.: The Universal Library, 1964), 114. 31 C.R. Rogers, “Towards a Theory of Creativity,” in E. Vernon (ed.) Creativity (Penguin, 1970), 137-151, 139. 32 Ibid., 140. 33 S. Freud, “Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming.” P.E. Vernon (ed.), Creativity, 126-135, 126. 34 Ibid., 127. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 314 HALIM BARAKAT that the question of the Maghribi heritage is very likely to escape those who inhabit it. Hence his call for detachment from the familiar meaning of heritage.35 Hence also is his resort to memory which represents collective unconsciousness in writing his book Tattooed Memory (al-Dhakira al-Mawshumd) and other imaginative works. Perhaps more relevant to my task here is Khalida Sa’id’s analy- sis of the relationship between Arab modernity and the crisis of iden- tity as reflected in the creative works of a number of innovative Arab writers. She says that a general survey of Arab texts of modernity reveals personalities that are rebellious, tense, torn between con- trasting worlds, disjointed, alienated, intrigued between the sane and the insane, the Godly and the human, the tragic and the comic, the religious and the heretic, the sacred and the falling. . . ,”36 Over a decade earlier, Khalida Sa’id defined creativity in Gibran’s view in the following terms: “Creativity … is what constitutes human adventure in search of the unknown, the astonishing, and the unusual. The significance of the Gibranian legacy is its emergence in the midst of stagnation and the dominance of inherited conceptions which perceived of the ideal model in past accomplishments … so much so that the creative process was rendered a process of imitation, con- formity and memorizing, instead of being an adventurous search and transcendence.”37 In Gibran she saw one of those protesting revolutionaries who challenged the past, the establishments, and traditional views. He represented the “wind that flows against the current”, the “truly visionary” writer whose “contact with universal culture excluded what is mainstream and customary”.38 Almost equally eloquent has been the appraisal of Adonis who stated in his Muqaddima li l-Shi’r al-cArabi that “with Gibran starts in Arabic poetry the vision that aspires to change the world . . . with him . . . starts modern Arabic Poetry . . . Gibran was not only the first reformer in Arabic poetry. In addi- tion, he was the first model for the poet and creative poetry in its modern sense.”39 35 Abdelkabir Khatibi, “Al-Maghrib: Ufuqan li 1-fikr,” Mawaqif, no. 32 (Summer 1978): 14. 36 Khalida Sa’id, “Al-hadatha aw ‘iqdat Gilgamesh,” Mawdqif, nos. 51/52 (Summer/ Fall, 1984): 15. 37 “Nahwa la-Nihaya ma,” Mawaqif, no. 9 (May/June, 1970): 5-6. 38 Ibid.’ 39 Adonis, Muqaddima li l-Shi’r al-‘Arabi (Beirut: Dar al-‘Awda, 1979), 79-82. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 315 In short, creativity does not come easy. It requires among the constituent elements open-mindedness, critical analysis, free reflection and search, tolerance and respect for difference, questioning the obvi- ous, confronting historical challenges, cultivating readiness to explore the unknown, the urge of discovery, imaginative and independent thinking, swimming against the current, overcoming restrictive inhi- bitions, liberation from fears of ambiguity, pluralism, inner direct- edness, future orientation free from the ingrained and inherited frames of references, artistic and moral courage, insistence on the rights of freedom of choice regardless of the anxieties it may bring about, intuition, inspiration, vision, sensitivity, adventurous spirit, openness to new experiences, and social psychological readiness to deal with conflicting facts or views. Creativity comes about freely and natu- rally through the cultivation rather than the suppression of the rest- lessness of the heart and mind. With these definitions of exile and creativity in mind, it becomes clearly obvious why the two notions are perceived in the present study as being intimately interrelated, particularly in the mahjari literature. Exile proved to be an invigorating force and a source of origi- nality in case of the Arab-American writers. In a previous study of mine on Gibran,40 I identified in his works several features of what I called then counter-culture and that can be considered in the pre- sent context as basic elements of creativity. One of the features I detected in his works was transcendence of traditional dualities that permeated Arab dominant culture such as mind/heart, soul/body, evil/goodness, light/darkness, belief/heresy. Another feature was his depiction of society as being in a state of disequilibrium, struggle, conflicts, contradictions notwithstanding the unity of being. A third feature was demystification of relationships of conquest in family and religion. Finally, he clearly rejected many aspects of the dominant or mainstream culture by exploding the traditional structure of lan- guage, and by revolutionizing relations. Here I would like to make a few additional remarks about Arab emegre writers and their writings as emanating from the new real- ity they relived and benefited from in North America during the first three decades of the twentieth century. 40 Halim Barakat, ‘Jibran al-mutatarrif hatta al-Junun: Buzugh al-thaqafa al- mudada,” al-Katib al-‘Arabi, vol. 1, 1 (October/November, 1981): 53-56. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 316 HALIM BARAKAT It seems to me that their creativity stemmed from an unusual mental and emotional ability to combine artistic and rational cul- tures, a sort of making for intermarriage between mind and free imagination. They did see some contradictions between these two inclinations but they made special efforts to resolve them each in his own peculiar way. They clearly rejected those forms of ration- ality that restricts free imagination. Instead, they developed an inquis- itive and imaginative mind. This is true of Gibran as much as of Amfn al-Rihani (migrated to America 1888 at the age of 13), Mikha’il Nucaymah, and Iliya Abu Madi (migrated to Egypt at 11, and then to the USA in 1911 at the age of 21). Arab emegre writers did realize and appreciate the fact that they belonged to an ancient and rich culture, but they also knew they must make a break with the past and reorient themselves and the society towards the future. This is clearly demonstrated most sig- nificantly in Gibran self-portrayal in “The Forerunner” (1920): And when you were a silent word upon life’s quivering lips, I too was there, another silent word. Then life uttered us and we came down the years throbbing with memories of yesterday and with longing for tomorrow, for yesterday was death conquered and tomorrow was birth pursued. Social psychological studies tell us that creative intellectuals tend to be introverts rather than extroverts. Generally speaking, it is hypoth- esized that the more extroverted a person and the more group— centered their daily experiences, the more likely their ideas are to be cliches.”41 Members of the Pen league formed a movement that had a great impact on Arab writings since then, but they worked and thought mainly separately and managed to maintain their indi- vidual activities and distinct interests. The distinctive works of Gibran, al-Rihani, Nu’aymah, and Abu Madi are clear testimony to this effect. What we are talking about here is a special kind of isolation or separateness characterized by inner contemplation rather than self-centeredness. 41 Randall Collins, “A Micro-Macro Theory of Intellectual Creativity: The Case of German Idealist Philosophy,” Sociological Theory, vol. 5, no. 1 (Spring 87): 47-69, 48. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 317 In order not to be misled by the above notion of distinct sepa- rateness, the creative explorations of Arab emegre writers may also be explained in terms of their identification with their native coun- try and preoccupation with its social and political crises. Sociology of literature tells us that there is a relationship between creativity and societal crises and transitional periods. Arabic literature and thought prospered in periods of acute national crises which gener- ated an urgent need for the development of a new consciousness and critical analytical thinking and reflection on means of transcen- dence. One of these periods is early 20th century when mahjari lit- erature asserted itself and contributed towards revolutionizing Arab cultural life. In transitional periods, there emerges an acute aware- ness of the need for replacing the old meanings and values with new ones so as to revitalize society and ensure its cohesiveness. Arab emegre writers benefited from the new milieu in which they found themselves. Being exposed to different cultures must have served as a source of creativity. Under certain conditions, encoun- ters with other civilizations may lead to the emergence of a process of cross fertilization which is likely to provide the necessary condi- tion for creative thinking. The continuing attachments of Amin al- Rlhani, Gibran, and Abu Madi to their native homeland motivated them to seek greater rather than less desire to know and benefit from the civilization of the host country. Clearly, they felt proud about serving as a bridge between cultures, and combated feeling of being uprooted outsiders to both or either of the two cultures. By doing so and by being in this peculiar position, they enriched both cultures. Cross fertilization among civilizations, as in this case, had its enriching rather than stifling effects on Arab-American writers. The migration of the mahjari writers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries liberated them from the stifling fears of persecution. They escaped both political and social-cultural repressions. By distancing themselves from the centers of control, they felt secure to express themselves freely. By centers of control I am referring to both the authoritarian state system that prevailed then and continues to pre- vail now, and the repressive social institutions such as religious and family authorities. By freeing themselves from both political and social systems, they were able to experiment with new forms of writing. In so doing, they managed to achieve their goals and desires not only for themselves but also for their people back home who were equally hungry for freedom. Hence the great lasting impact of mahjari writings Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 318 HALIM BARAKAT on contemporary Arabic literature. It truly represented the first wave of modernity. Finally, I would say that the mahjari writers also freed themselves from preoccupation with the every day local details and concerns as well as from the frustrations and communal loyalties in their native country. Instead, they developed universalistic perspectives and ad- dressed themselves to the Arab world at large. Those who remained behind were exposed not only to state control and social and cul- tural pressures, but also to the temptations of helpless engagements in daily and secondary battles to their own detriment. Gibran and al-Rihani and other mahjari writers showed as well a strong tendency toward liberation from the traditional religious habits calling instead for religious tolerance and secularism. In an elaborate study of the mahjari poetry, Wadl’ Dib42 identified some overlapping or additional distinctive leanings. He detected a special emphasis on the theme of al-hanin (nostalgia or yearning). They yearned for the homeland, for family and mother, for sim- plicity away from modern life (and hence the stress on the theme of return to the ghaba or forest), and for the unknown. Another lean- ing he discovered in their poetry is reflective, poetic and philosoph- ical thinking. They rejected old certainties and raised intriguing questions about all aspects of life experiencing as a result deep anx- ieties of the heart and mind. Abu Madi’s poem “Talaism” (para- doxes or riddles) is most illustrative of such leaning: I came—whence, I know not—but I came I saw before me a road, so I walked, and shall continue to walk, whether I will or not How did I come? How did I see my road? I know not Am I new, or old, in this existence? Am I truly free, or a prisoner in chains? Do I lead myself through my life, or am I led? I wish to know, and yet I know not. And my road: what is my road?43 42 Wadi’ Dib, al-Shi’r al-‘Arabifi al-Mahjar Al-Amriki (Arabic Poetry in the Americas) (Beirut: Dar al-Rlhani, n.d.). 43 Translated by Mounah A. Khouri and Hamid Algar, An Anthology of Modem Arabic Poetry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 35. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 319 Dib also identified a third sort of a leaning in mahjari poetry which reflected deep desire for liberation from all restrictions on their free- dom including linguistic norms. This is particularly true of Gibran who saw the poet as being first and foremost responsible for lan- guage and its destiny. Hence what I mentioned earlier about his determination to explode the traditional structure of Arabic language and adopting the dictum, “you have your own language, and I have my own.” Similarly, Rose Ghuraib points out that the movement of mahjari literature “revolted against all aspects of the prevailing literary and social conditions in Arab countries, and called for the destruction and the recreation of the new, and laid the foundation for compre- hensive unprecedented deep rooted revolution in the Arab World.”44 It is these characteristics and others which prompted the noted literary critic Muhammad Mandur to raise and address the question as to why the mahjari writers succeeded in doing what other writers could not do. No wonder then that another noted Egyptian writer Muhammed Husayn Haykal would warn his fellow writers, “The reformer and the traditionalist among us should cooperate. Otherwise the victory will remain on the side of the Americanized Syrians, and Islamic culture would be erased.”45 While Arab writers in exile yearned for homeland and its people, traditional writers in the Arab world yearned for the past. What the mahjari writers succeeded in doing is pursuing the path of creativity rather than uniformity. For them creativity, inseparable from agonizing exile, became their way of life sustained with con- stantly renewed hopes for return. Gibran expressed it well in saying: And hence an exile am I, and an exile I shall remain until death lifts me up and bears me even unto my country.46 At a testimonial dinner for Gibran, January 5th, 1929, Philip Hitti commented: “The influence which Gibran exercises in modern Arabic literature can be measured . . . not only by the multitude of people 44 Rose Ghuraib, “Udaba’ al-Mahjar,” in Masadir al-Thaqafa fi Lubnan (Beirut: Maktabat Lubnan, 1969), 101. 40 Cited in lliyya Abu Madl: Sha’ir al-Mahjar al-Akbar (Dar al-Yaqaza al-cArabiyya, 1963), 23. 46 The Two Voices of Kahlil Gibran (Beirut: Creative, 1984), 27, from The Tempests, translated by Andrew Ghareeb. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 320 HALIM BARAKAT who have . . . benefited by reading him but also by the big crop of would-be Gibrans, quasi-Gibrans and Gibran imitators who have in recent years, mushroom-like, sprung up and flourished all over the Arabic speaking world. So much so that you can hardly nowadays pick up an Arabic paper printed in Beirut, Cairo, Baghdad, Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires without finding somebody consciously trying to write Gibran-like. . . . through his unmatched mastery of this art, through his pure and rich imagery, through his lofty and noble ide- alism … he has become the father of a new school of thought all of his own.”47 By bearing the symbols of the homeland, mahjan writers gave exile in marriage to creativity as they gave the sea in marriage to the sun. Arab writers produced their best works in the Abbasid period, in Andalusia, and in the mahjar where exile served as a precondition of freedom. In all these instances, there coexisted meaningful encoun- ters of civilizations and liberation from both political and social repressive authorities. Hence the possibilities of innovative explorations and pondering transcendental themes leading to the creation of van- guardist works in each of these periods of Arab literary history. 47 From The Arabs in America, 1492-1977, compiled and edited by Beverlee Turner Mehdi, Dobbs Ferry (New York, Oceana Publications, 1978), 87. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved.
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2013 Encyclopedia of World Poetry: 1900 to the Present (2 nd ed.) Facts On File Companion to Literature Work overview (Level 4)About this WorkFull Text:  Kahlil Gibran(b. 1883–d. 1931)Lebanese-born American essayist, short story writer, poetLebanese author and artist Gibran Khalil Gibran is one of the world’s best-known writers, his works having been translated into morethan 20 languages. His 1923 volume remains the best-selling volume ever issued by Alfred A. Knopf. Gibran drew onboth Eastern and Western traditions to write about what it means to be both a physical and a spiritual being in the modern world.Especially during the 1960s, Gibran’s philosophical works found favor with widespread audiences. In his first inaugural addressPresident John F. Kennedy quoted Gibran (“Letter to Syrian Youth”) when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; askwhat you can do for your country.”Gibran was born to a Maronite Christian family in Bechari, Lebanon, in 1883. His family’s economic situation was unstable, making itdifficult for Gibran to obtain a formal education. He did, however, receive instruction in languages and religion from a local priest. Atthe age of 12 Gibran immigrated with his mother and siblings to the United States, settling in Boston, near relatives. Two years laterGibran returned to Lebanon to complete his secondary education. Having displayed artistic talent, he was accepted at the prestigiousÉcole des Beaux Arts in Paris. The famed sculptor Auguste Rodin was among his instructors. Although Gibran is best known as anauthor, he continued to work as a sculptor and artist throughout his life and illustrated several of his own books.At the age of 21 Gibran returned to Boston and lived in Chinatown for the next several years. Gibran’s melancholy was exacerbatedby the deaths from tuberculosis of his half-brother and sister and the death of his mother from cancer. After these events, he movedto New York, where he lived for most of his life. He died from a liver ailment on April 10, 1931.Gibran’s earliest writings were in Arabic, including his 1910 collection of short stories (Nymphs of the Valley) and his1914 volume of poetry and prose (Tears and Laughter). By the time he moved to New York works in his nativelanguage had made him a celebrity in the Middle East.Gibran’s work is characterized by a longing for connection and unity. His feelings of alienation from the two cultures in which he livedas an outsider were increased by the horrors of World War I. In spite of his critical and financial success, Gibran was deeply troubledby the deplorable economic conditions in Lebanon, where, by the beginning of the war, large numbers of citizens were starving.Searching for deeper spirituality and understanding, Gibran turned away from organized religion. At the same time, his work wasbecoming increasingly more mystical and philosophical. Strong biblical influences are apparent in the rich images and style of hiswork, as are lyrical influences of his Arabic literary background. Much of his writing tries to answer the important questions of humanexistence while Gibran struggles with these questions himself, creating a sense of unresolved internal turmoil in his work.In 1918 Gibran published his first work in English: . The title character feels he possesses adeeper understanding of life than the masses, who consider him a madman, a theme Gibran treats in other works. Five years laterGibran published the first volume of a planned trilogy consisting of , and . This first book became Gibran’s most critically acclaimed and most widely read work. The sequels, two separate volumes,were published after his death. Gibran stipulated in his will that all subsequent royalties from his writing be given to the Lebanese village of his birth.Gibran, Khalil . , 1910. Translated by H. M. Nahmad. Published as . New York: Knopf, 1948.———. , 1914. Translated by Anthony Rizcallah Ferris. Published as , edited by Martin L.Wolf. New York: Philosophical Library, 1949. Also published as . Translated by Nahmad with an introduction byRobert Hillyer. New York: Knopf, 1950.———. . New York: Knopf, 1918.———. . New York: Knopf, 1920.———. . New York: Knopf, 1923.———. . New York: Knopf, 1928.———. . New York: Knopf, 1933. Hamm, Jean. COPYRIGHT 2013 R. Victoria Arana (MLA 8th Edition)    Arana, R. Victoria. “Gibran, Khalil.” : , 2nd ed., Facts on File, 2013. Companion toLiterature. , https://link-gale-com.bmcc.ezproxy.cuny.edu/apps/doc/CX6257200165/GVRL?u=cuny_mancc&sid=GVRL&xid=c92fc0db. Accessed 15 Mar.2020. GALE|CX6257200165
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GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON: THE PROBLEM OF THE PROPHET1 IRFAN SHAHID Celebrated six years ago was the hundredth anniversary of the arrival at these American shores of Gibran Kahlil Gibran, the fore- most Arab-American writer.2 Twenty-eight years after his advent in 1895, a slim volume of his, less than a hundred pages, which could be read in an hour, appeared in print titled The Prophet? It received a wide and immediate vogue and its popularity has not waned in the course of the last eight decades or so since its publication. The sale of the book ran into the millions, more than eight according to the most reliable estimate.4 Thus, The Prophet outsold all American poets from Whitman to Eliot. According to its publisher, Alfred Knopf, the book’s success was entirely due to its own appeal since no publicity whatsoever has ever been mounted to promote its sale. In addition to the sale of these millions of copies, the book has been translated into all major and some minor languages of the world, according to some estimates into fifty.5 Consequently, Gibran is the only Arab or Arabic-speaking author who succeeded in authoring a book that has had this extensive presence in the four corners of the earth. Although he was by birth a Lebanese Arabic-speaking writer, 1 This article is based on a paper delivered at the Library of Congress Arab- American Cultural Relations Conference, September 1995 and is published by per- mission of the Library of Congress, granted on the 23rd of July, 1997. 2 The bibliography on Gibran is extensive and is still growing. See Fawzi Abdulrazzak, “Adab al-Mahjar: Bibliyugrafiyyah,” Mundus Arabicus I (Cambridge, 1981): 89-230; for studies in English and other Western Languages, see Francine H. McNulty, ibid., 65-88 and Jean Gibran and Kahlil Gibran, Kahlil Gibran: His Life and World (New York: Interlink Books, 1974, reprint 1991), 446-451. 3 Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1923). 4 This figure was supplied by Alfred Knopf’s publicity department on May 24, 1991. I am grateful to my student David Marcus at Georgetown for making the inquiry. 3 See the article of the scholar whom this Festschrift honors, “The Contributions of Arab Immigrants in North America to Arabic Literature,” The First One Hundred Years: A Centennial Anthology Celebrating Antiochian Orthodoxy in North America., ed. George S. Corey, et al. (Englewood, N.J.: Antakya Press, 1995), 86. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 322 IRFAN SHAHID he spent almost three-quarters of his short life on earth in America,6 where he wrote his masterpiece The Prophet, not in Arabic his mother tongue, but in English, the language of the country of which he became a naturalized citizen, amid the challenges of the American scene, and where the millions of copies have sold and are still being sold; and it was an American writer that fifty translators or so deemed worthy of rendition into their respective languages. And yet this book, the reputation of which has become truly global as an American classic, has been snubbed by the Grove of Akademe in the United States. The Ivy League universities do not teach him as an American author, let alone as a classic; he has never been allowed admission to the Canon and his place is neither in the “Grove, nor in the Garden, nor in the Stoa, nor in the Tub,” but is in the Agora, to which he is consigned or ostracized, by the umpires of literary taste in the Establishment. Even the most American of all philosophies, namely Pragmatism, has not been applied to him: the philosophy that judges the truth of any system by its success and how it works in practice; and that, on the strength of the millions of copies sold, should have elevated him to a higher level of literary standing. Not only has he been banished from the Canon and from university syllabi, but also from standard anthologies of American literature. The latest and the most prestigious, The Heath Anthology of American Literature, does not include him.7 And this is not a slim anthology, but one that con- sists of two thick volumes, a work of some five thousand pages, with- out a single page from Gibran, while it includes works, the Americanism of which are perhaps not as strong as that of Gibran’s The Prophet. Jose Marti was a distinguished Cuban writer; although he lived in America for a short time, yet he wrote in Spanish and his Neustra America is included and so are a number of corridos, Spanish Mexican ballads or songs all translated from Spanish. The process of ban- ishing Gibran from the mainstream of American literature or even 6 Born in 1883 and died in 1931. 7 The Heath Anthology of American Literature (Lexington, Massachusetts: D. Heath and Company, 1994), vol. I-II. For Nuestra America, that challenging and remarkable essay, see vol. II, 821-828; for the corridos, 828-845. My colleagues in the Spanish Department at Georgetown tell me that Neustra America was originally written in Spanish. The non-inclusion of Gibran, or at least a selection from his writings is truly surprising, especially as this anthology is known for its multi-cultural inclu- sions, reflecting the ethnic diversity of America; cf. the inclusion of FitzGerald in his entirety in another anthology; infra n. 19. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON 323 consciousness is reflected also in his non-inclusion in The Dictionary of American Biography, The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, and Who’s Who in America.8 Surely this is a genuine, not a fictitious, problem or question and it has bearing on the life of the Arab-American community—its cul- tural identity and its place in the multi-ethnic society in America to which it also belongs. The problem has relevance to the concept of emigre and comparative literature in general. In fact it invites com- parison with one of the most outstanding examples of the success of an emigre writer, Joseph Conrad, the Pole, who was given a warm embrace by the English Establishment, thus contrasting with the cold shoulder given Gibran by the American. This article is divided into two parts: in the first, will be exam- ined whatever legitimate reasons the Establishment has against The Prophet; in the second, the case will be stated for the inclusion of Gibran, if not in the hallowed Canon, at least in anthologies of American Literature. The cases of three literary artists who attained world-wide celebrity also will be examined because of their relevance to the problem of The Prophet, namely, Frederik Nietzsche, Edward FitzGerald, and T.S. Eliot. I The reservations or the objections of the Establishment might run along the following lines: 1. The Prophet does not admit of a satisfactory categorization in terms of recognized literary genres or representation of a well-known school. It is neither a novel nor a short story nor a long poem. This con- ception of The Prophet and how it operates to the disadvantage of its author, Gibran, becomes clearer when Gibran is contrasted with another countryman of his, a Lebanese who was accepted immedi- ately by the French Literary Establishment, George Schehade. By composing in the idiom of the surrealists, he became one of the best representatives of surrealism in modern French literature and almost won the Nobel Prize. 8 Strange enough, the Gibran who is included in “Who’s Who” is his namesake, his relative, the sculptor who nowadays lives in Boston and who with his wife Jean co-authored the book on Gibran, cited supra, n. 2. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 324 IRFAN SHAHID 2. It is probably because of this, that The Prophet in the imagina- tion of the professional literary critic tends to belong to the category of religious literature, which conception assigns its author to the sta- tus of a religious leader or more pejoratively to an Oriental guru rather than a man-of-letters. His acceptance, especially in religious circles such as the Unitarians, the Friends, and the Baha’is seems to confirm the judgement of the literary critic as to the regions to which The Prophet belongs. The very title of the book suggests or corrobo- rates this impression as well as the various chapters of the book, which sound as sermonettes delivered from a pulpit. That this must have been the case is supported by the fact that The Prophet in book- shops is not to be found in the section on literature, but in that of religion. The best confirmation of this view was, however, the adapta- tion of The Prophet as a religious drama which was presented as such, almost annually at a Christian church in New York, St. Mark’s in- the-Bouwerie, the pastor of which, Dr. William Norman Guthrie, christ- ened another book of Gibran’s, Jesus The Son of Man, as the “Gospel according to Gibran,” thus making of Gibran the fifth Evangelist!9 3. In the Inter-War period, beginning with the twenties, the lit- erary world for a long time to come was in the grip of T.S. Eliot, who, both as poet and critic, revolutionized first English and then world poetry and also created the taste by which the new poetry was to be appreciated. Almost everything he did, and especially his Waste Land, the most influential poem of the twentieth century, pub- lished a year before The Prophet must have disinclined the critics of the Establishment from considering Gibran seriously: a — Eliot carried an implacable war against the Romantics, accus- ing them of sentimentality and lack of precision in poetic expres- sion. Gibran was irretrievably a Romantic, and the critics who were speaking the new idiom of Eliot had no use for the Gibranic roman- ticism, especially coming as it did from an outsider, whose very name advertized his otherness.10 9 On this, see Barbara Young, This Man from Lebanon (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1950), 33. In spite of the fire that Barbara Young’s book has been under, it does have valuable data on Gibran, owed only to her. 10 Gibran himself apparently was aware of this when he chose “Gibran” rather than ‘Jubran” as the more aesthetic rendition of his name in English. He also transliterated his middle name not “Khalil,” but “Kahlil.” More confusion was con- tributed by Antione Karam when he transliterated his name as “Djabran” in the new edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam! Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON 325 b – Eliot effected a revolution in the language of English poetry, which, according to him, had become stale and unexciting after the long night of the Romantics and the Victorians; and in the judgement of critics, a great poet is one that develops the powers of expression inherent in a language. Gibran could hardly be considered an inno- vator in this sense. The revolution in poetic diction he effected was in Arabic,11 not in English, and his language in The Prophet could not have been considered innovative and revolutionary as that of Eliot. On the contrary, it brought coal to Newcastle, Biblical rhythms and phrases that could only have further distanced Gibran from the American critic, already indisposed for other reasons toward Gibran, the gate-crasher on the American literary scene. c – Thirdly, Eliot insisted that poets should avoid engaging in direct statements. Poetry should be allusive and suggestive or oblique. But The Prophet consists of pronouncements almost all of which vio- late these recommendations. They are direct statements that plum- met most of the time to the level of downright didacticism, and the reader could feel that he was being sermonized by Gibran, who speaks with the assurance that he had the “True Gospel.” So much for the Establishment and for Eliot as the nemesis of Gibran. In addition to what has just been said, there also is the fact that the American literary critic in his dismissive attitude to the author of The Prophet hardly knows anything about Gibran—the real Gibran, who was the foremost literary figure of Arabic literature in America, who revolutionized the course of Arabic literature in the Arab home- land, and who is still alive today in the consciousness of Arab men- of-letters and of avid readers even after a hundred years, thus illustrating Ezra Pound’s famous dictum that “literature is news that stays news.” If the American critic knew the real Gibran, his atti- tude would change or may change. Because then, he would realize that he is dealing with a true literary artist and The Prophet, what- ever its limitations, is a work of literary art in the strictest sense of belles-lettres. But unfortunately, the gulf is difficult to bridge. The ” For this see the long chapter by Salma K. Jayyusi in Trends and Movements in Modem Arabic Poetry (Leiden: EJ. Brill, 1977), Vol. I, 91-107 and her short “Forward” (unpaginated) in Jean and Kahlil Gibran, Kahlil Gibran. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 326 IRFAN SHAHID Arabic works of Gibran are not open to the inspection of the American literary critic and no FitzGerald has yet appeared to render the Arabic works of Gibran into English as that Anglo-Irishman had done for Omar Khayyam. II All the arguments of the American literary critic can be rebutted or at least faced with counter-arguments, despite the fact that there is an element of truth in them, which, however, is not such as to rel- egate Gibran to the limbo to which he has been consigned. 1. Categorization: this lays Nietzsche himself open to the same objection because Thus Spake Zarathustra in spite of the difference in the outlook of Gibran and Nietzsche, is akin to The Prophet as the work of a German preaching to his countrymen what Gibran was to do in The Prophet. And yet no one has objected to the form in which Nietzsche cast his thought and no critic to my knowledge has on that score refused Thus Spake Zarathustra admittance to the German Canon, where it has rightly rested as one of the glories of German, indeed, European literature. As to its being a work more related to religious literature, especially of the Orient, rather than a secular work of art, the same may be said of one of the major works of English literature, namely, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and yet no one condemned it on that score. When Eliot opened fire against Milton, it was not on that ground that he did so. Eliot himself ended up almost speaking from the pulpit of the Anglo-Catholic church, and no one found his conversion or its lit- erary expression exceptionable. The charge against Gibran of being romantic in the pejorative, dismissive sense is the easiest charge to rebut. Notwithstanding the prestige of the great poet/critic who advanced it, the Romantics are one of the classics of English and other European literature. Eliot’s psyche may not have had a place for romanticism, but his was a strange and complex one, perhaps even morbid, and his Waste Land, the most celebrated poem of the century, was written while he was in a hospital in Switzerland, recuperating from a nervous breakdown. But the overwhelming majority of human beings are romantics, at least at a certain stage in their lives. Hence Romantic poetry is not factitious, contrived poetry, but one that answers to deeply seated Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON 327 human needs and drives. It is unfortunate that sometimes it degen- erates into mere sentimentalism that robs it of all emotional robust- ness, even manliness, as when one of its best representatives, none other that Shelley, says, “I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed.” But this line is not representative and the “Ode to the West Wind” remains one of the gems in the treasury of English verse. As to Gibran’s failure to effect a revolution in the language through which he wrote The Prophet, this is a true observation. But it should not so count against him as to deny him recognition as an American writer. Few are the poets who can be credited with this achieve- ment. It was done by the Romantic Wordsworth and he announced it in the introduction to his Lyrical Ballads, but English poetry had to wait for another century or so until Eliot appeared and effected a second revolution in the language of English poetry, with Whitman as a precursor. Between the two, all the Romantic and Victorian poets in England were writing in the same idiom that was bequeathed to them by the Romantics, and so they cannot be denied their place in the gallery of English poetry because they wrote in the idiom fashioned by their predecessors. Besides, English was not Gibran’s native language, and as has already been said, he did effect a revolu- tion in Arabic; so it is extravagant to expect him to effect a second revolution in another language, especially as the circumstances of his life were not conducive to that. For most of his life, which was rel- atively short, he consorted with his fellow Arab writers, and had no American wife, which would have ensured greater immersion in English. And it was only in the last decade of his life that he wrote his English works, of which The Prophet was one. Yet the English of The Prophet is attractive in its own way with its Biblical flavor, and can be appreciated for its effectiveness in employing a Biblical style, adapted to the taste of twentieth-century America. 2. A more fundamental reply to the indifference of the Establish- ment to Gibran may be the realization that the Canon itself is “a construct, fashioned by particular people for particular reasons at a certain time.”12 Such is the considered judgement of a distinguished 12 See Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction (Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), 11. I should like to thank my colleague, Professor John Hirsch of the English Department for some fruitful conversations on how the American Canon was formed in the forties and fifties, on the factors that governed its formation, and how the two Columbia anthologies of those days reflected it. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 328 IRFAN SHAHID literary theorist, Terry Eagleton, and there is an element of truth in this. Aesthetic judgements tend to be subjective, governed by a vari- ety of non-literary elements or factors that go into their formulation. Many are the works of art, literary, plastic, or musical, that have been condemned when they first appeared, were later recognized as masterpieces, and vice versa; many that have been acclaimed and hailed ended up in critical oblivion. This is not an attempt to dis- credit aesthetics and the impressive conceptual apparatus that philoso- phers, initially Germans, who have worked out its details. It is only to say that there are cases when the Canon may be said not to be infallible and that in the case of Gibran’s The Prophet., many were the non-literary elements that entered into the process of evaluation and that resulted in its exclusion from the American heritage fold. Before I come to these non-literary factors and present three cases which by contrast illuminate these factors, I should like to refer to some authors who have been impressed by The Prophet. The most often quoted is Claude Bragdon and his judgement appears on the jacket of copies of The Prophet. It reads as follows: His power came from some great reservoir of spiritual life, else it could not have been so universal and potent, but the majesty and beauty of the language with which he clothed it were all his own. This evaluation apparently did not do Gibran much good in sophis- ticated literary circles and it may have done some harm in that it could convey to them the impression that The Prophet found no patrons to endorse its literary quality and advertize it on the jacket other than one who was not a member of the Establishment, but who was known more as an architect than as a bona fide literary critic.13 Gibran’s admirers, however, were not limited to Claude Bragdon. None other than George William Russell, a major figure in twentieth century Irish literature, to whom the Dictionary of National Biography gives space almost equal to what is given to James Joyce, grew lyrical when he remembered The Prophet. Here are samples from his chapter on Gibran:14 13 For some insightful comments on Gibran, see his chapter titled “A Modern Prophet from Lebanon,” Merry Players (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1929), 139-147. 14 See George William Russell (also known as “AE.”) in The Living Torch (London: MacMillan, 1937), 168-169. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON 329 Kahlil Gibran as well as Tagore has expressed the mystical faith of Asia … I do not think the East has spoken with so beautiful a voice since the Gitanjali15 of Rabindranath Tagore as in The Prophet of Kahlil Gibran, who is artist as well as poet. I have not seen for years a book more beautiful in thought, and when reading it I understand better than ever before, what Socrates meant in the Banquet when he spoke of the beauty of thought, which exercises a deeper enchantment than the beauty of form … I could quote from every page and from every page I could find some beautiful and liberating thought… I wonder has the East many more poets to reveal to us? … It is only when a voice comes from India or China or Arabia that we get the thrill of strangeness from the beauty, and we feel that it might inspire another of the great passions of humanity. George William Russell had no reason to flatter Gibran, and he was a fastidious critic possessed of an independent judgement and cer- tainly was not playing to the gallery. Some may say that his admi- ration was derived from the fact that he saw in Gibran a kindred spirit, in view of his interest in theosophy and oriental thought, but so was Goethe, the foremost German poet, who was deeply interested in the Orient, but this never militated against accepting his literary judgements; furthermore, Russell did have strong reservations about other oriental literary figures, so he was a discriminating critic who approached Gibran without any of the prejudices of the critics who denounced Gibran or damned him with faint praise.16 So much then for arguments and counter-arguments. Now it is time that the non-literary elements or even factors that worked against Gibran and his acceptance by the literary Establishment are addressed. These were disadvantages that plagued him: a poor emigrant, who hardly spoke any English when he landed in America at the tender age of 12 and who lived in the Chinatown of Boston; he had no formal education, college or university, other than a biennium in school, when he went back to ground himself in his own native lan- guage in Beirut. His intimate friends were his own Lebanese and Syrian literati17 who formed the literary circle called al-Rabita al- Qalamiyya, and not well-known established American men of letters 15 The poems that won Tagore the Nobel Prize in 1913. 16 Such as Stefan Kanfer; see The New York Times Magazine (June 25, 1972): 8ff. I have been unable to find anything about Kanfer’s background or identity. 17 For these colleagues of Gibran in al-Rabita (literally The Pen Bond), see the attractive chapter with vivid vignettes of its members in Mikha’il Naimy (Mikhail Na’ima), Sab’un (Beirut, 1964), vol. II, 163-175. On al-Rabita as the literary circle of the Arab-American writers, see Cornelis Nijland in “Al-Rabita al-Qalamiyya: An Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 330 IRFAN SHAHID and literary critics. Finally, he did not belong to an ethnic group in America that had been well established in this country and that had discovered its cultural identity, let alone contributed to the cultural life of America. If this had been the case, Gibran might have had the support of such a community and his image in the American literary mirror might have been clearer and better. That these dis- advantages under which he labored were partly responsible for the cool or tepid reception which he received, or even were mostly responsible for the indifference of the literary Establishment to The Prophet, will become crystal clear when works of three European lit- erary artists are discussed, artists who had all the advantages he was denied, advantages that were partly responsible for their success and popularity: Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat, and Eliot’s Waste Land, and all three are related in one way or another to Gibran’s The Prophet. 1. Reference has already been made to Nietzsche and how no critic found it exceptionable that he cast his thought in the form of a monologue, put in the mouth of the Oriental Persian Prophet, Zoroaster. Unlike Gibran, Nietzsche had every advantage of birth and education. Appointed to a professorship at the university of Basle while he was still an undergraduate, he taught classical philology there and so he belonged to the elitist German academic commu- nity, among whom the classicists were the aristocrats. He could count among his friends Wagner and Schopenhauer. And it was from his professorial chair at Basle that he began quite early in life his liter- ary activity as a man of letters and a philosopher, thus contrasting with Gibran, who alternated between Chinatown in Boston and a modest studio in Greenwich Village in New York. 2. Even more relevant and telling is the case of FitzGerald and the Rubaiyat. FitzGerald studied at Cambridge where he met the novelist Thackery and through him, Alfred Tennyson, the future poet laureate, and later Carlyle. So he, too, moved in the circle of the Establishment from the very beginning of his career. Even so, his translation of the Rubaiyat, the quatrains of a medieval Oriental poet, received no attention from the reading public; and the pub- lisher, who had advertised it for one shilling per copy, sold not a Arabic Literary Circle in New York,” Bibliotheca Orientalis, 50, nos. 3-4 (1993): 329—341. The life span of this literary circle ran for eleven years, from 1920 until 1931 when Gibran died and with him al-Rabita. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON 331 single one for two years, 1859-1861. When he reduced the price to one penny and put the pile of unsold copies in a bargain box out- side his shop, it was bought accidently by one, Whitley Stokes by name, who gave it to Dante Gabriel Rosetti, who in turn brought it to the attention of Browning and Swineburne, and from these it reached Meredith and finally Ruskin. And it was thus, with the “blessing of the Pre-Raphaelites” that the popularity of the Rubdiydt was launched, through the endorsement of powerful critics and dis- tinguished Victorian poets.18 It was also in this way that the Rubaiyat received a new lease on life this side of the Atlantic, when a pow- erful and influential critic, none other than Charles Eliot Norton, who from his professorial niche at Harvard gave his blessing and ensured its popularity in America.19 Since then Omar and FitzGerald have become household words in the English-speaking world and many a phrase from the Rubaiyat have become part and parcel of the English language such as “I came like water and like wind I go,” or “The moving finger writes and having writ, moves on.”20 3. Finally, there are Eliot and his Waste Land, published one year before The Prophet, and like The Prophet, a slim volume of some four hundred verses. It became the most influential English poem in this century and even in the world, in spite of the fact that the poem has no independent existence since it is unintelligible without the notes which the author thought necessary to append, the curious medley of languages used in it, and the difficulty of following the argument even with the help of the annotation. Although the poem’s 18 On this, see Dick Davis, Edward FitzGerald: Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Penguin, 1989), 40, and indeed the whole valuable introduction (pages 1—41), the most recent on the Rubaiyat. 19 In a long article which appeared in October 1869 in the North American Review, see also AJ. Arberry, The Romance of the Rubaiyat (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1959), 26, where the author quotes the enthusiastic passage from Norton’s article that welcomed FitzGerald into the American literary scene. The memory of Charles Eliot Norton is still alive today perpetuated by an Endowed Chair at Harvard University, which carries his name and with it the Rubaiyat he was the first to acclaim in this country. For a detailed study of the Rubaiyat as the classic of all translations, see the present writer in his Inaugural Lecture, “Omar Khayyam: The Philosopher-Poet of Medieval Islam” (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1981). 20 Noteworthy is the fact that not a selection from the Rubaiyat, but the entire one hundred and one are included in works that are supposed to be anthologies, and this, in spite of the possibility of a selective presentation of them, since each qua- train is a self-contained unit of composition; see The Norton Anthology of English Literature (New York: W. Norton and Company, 1968), Vol. II, 1179-1190; cf. supra, n. 6. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 332 IRFAN SHAHID power is undeniable, yet its immediate and wide appeal is partly owed to many extra non-literary factors that raised it to the pedestal upon which it has now rested for decades and that has kept it firmly in the good graces of elitist literary critics. A quick enumeration will reveal the operation of these factors and currents, all of which con- trast stridently with those that ran against Gibran. Eliot was born into an aristocratic family, a member of which had founded Washington University in St. Louis. He himself went to the leading school in the country—Harvard University—where he did his graduate work toward a Doctorate on the philosopher F.H. Bradley. As if Harvard were not enough, he moved then to the Sorbonne in Paris and thence to Oxford. Thus he studied at the three major universities of the Western world, moving in distinguished academic and literary circles, mak- ing acquaintanceships and friendships with everybody who was any- body in literature, among whom suffice it to mention the Cambridge Philosopher Bertrand Russell and E.R. Dodds, the Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, both of whom remembered Eliot in their writ- ings, thus lending the prestige of their paramount place in Oxbridge academia to the reputation of the American poet. Like Gibran, Eliot was an emigrant from his country, who left the United States, settled in England, took British citizenship and became an Anglo-Catholic, thoroughly identifying himself with the ethos of the “Sceptered Isle” and writing on the English scene works such as the martyrdom of Thomas Becket in his Murder in the Cathedral. Consequently, Eliot was wholeheartedly accepted by the English literary Establishment and this acceptance was reflected posthumously in a plaque for him, placed in that crowded precinct, the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. All this contrasts with Gibran’s place in American society where he remained an outsider, who had no strong affiliations or connections with academic or literary circles that mattered. No Ezra Pound in America endorsed his writings as Eliot’s masterpiece Waste Land was, dedicated to il miglior fabbro, Pound, whose imprimatur of that poem launched it into that extraordinary course of unrelieved success and into that altitude from which it has never descended. Perhaps the foregoing paragraphs have not failed to suggest, even indicate, that Gibran has not been treated fairly as an American writer. The Prophet may not be an American classic such as Whitman’s Leaves of Grass or Eliot’s Waste Land, but it should have a place at Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON 333 least in an American Heritage Anthology and be given a chance of being seriously considered by sophisticated literary taste in America. The East, more specifically the Near East, has contributed three clas- sics to the Western World, that are, moreover, among the most widely read in Europe and America: the Bible, The Arabian Nights, and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. If The Prophet cannot be placed on the same pedestal as these three classics, it should not be too distant from the last, the Rubaiyat, and it is distinguished from the three by being not a translation, but a work of literary art com- posed not in Hebrew, Syriac, Greek, Arabic, or Persian, but in the language of the country, English. And so it should be in the com- pany of those books that are the contribution of the Near East, in this case the Arab Near East, to the American literary scene. This is not a call for the application of Affirmative Action to the literary arena, only a gentle reminder to the American critic to overcome nonchalance or indifference. Those of us who are not guiltless of Arabic and who read Gibran’s work in that language know that he is a genuine literary artist who, moreover, was truly inspired by more than one Muse.21 So when he chose to write in the language of his adopted country, he was and remained the same artist, but writing in a different linguistic medium, which in the considered judgement of fair and disinterested critics he had mastered. The American critic, innocent of Arabic and Gibran’s Arabic works, is faced with the problem of accepting a work, that is, The Prophet., which stands in splendid isolation, severed from all the background reading in Arabic, necessary for convinc- ing the critic that he is dealing with a writer of sterling value. One way of bridging this gulf, or to start the dialogue that has not begun, is to have better translations of his Arabic works into English by those for whom translation is not a mechanical process, but an art. It is extravagant to expect that any one of these potential transla- tors will be another FitzGerald, but hopefully, they will be within measurable distance from him. Even if this happens, it will not be the end of the encounter of the American critic with Gibran. That critic must evaluate The Prophet on its own merits. It will only be the 21 Gibran was an artist as well as a man of letters and his model was William Blake. He painted and drew and was also a well-known portraitist. Some famous personalities of the time sat for him, such as the poets Yeats, al-Baha , Masefield and Rabindranath Tagore. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 334 IRFAN SHAHID beginning of the dialogue when, in approaching The Prophet, this hypothetical critic will be relieved of an attitude to The Prophet, that had condemned it without appeal as being unworthy of even being considered.22 The most that one can hope for is that he will approach it with an open mind without any preconceived ideas. Then and only then will the American literary critic realize or may realize that in dealing with Gibran, he is dealing with one of the true literary voices of the twentieth century, who represents the contribution of the Arab community in these United States to the American liter- ary heritage. 22 A step in the right direction has been taken by Eugene P. Nassar. See his chapter on Gibran in “Cultural Discontinuity in the Works of Kahlil Gibran,” in Essays Critical and Meta-critical (Rutherford, NJ.: Fairleigh Dickenson University Press, 1983), 84-102. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved.
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0 When my sorrow was born The use of the first-person point of view makes the poet become the main character. The poem is about a person who discovers their pain and sorrow right after experiencing joy. Time and time again, the character’s goals to achieve joy fail, eventually accepting that sorrow is what is meant to be. At first, the joy was overwhelming that the character stood on the roof to shout to all to hear. His call for the neighbours to hear of his joy falls on deaf ears. He states, “Come ye, my neighbors, come and see,…” When my joy was born The poet proclaims that he has overcome sorrow and he has embraced joy. The character calls upon the neighbours to come and celebrate the great achievement, but none gives heed. It leads to isolation, and the character’s joy becomes weary despite the relief of beating sorrow. In time, joy dies and becomes one with sorrow. They all become the past. The character proclaims, “…I only remember my dead Joy…”On joy and sorrow The poem is an illustration that life is full of highs and lows, regardless of the level a person is in society. Whatever brings great joy in life will eventually bring sorrow. Therefore, sorrow and joy are two sides of the same coin. On a scale, they are balanced; therefore, no one can say their joy is greater than sorrow. The poem states that people should not be naive to believe that joy will last forever. The poet states, “… joy or your sorrow rise or fall…”
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GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON: THE PROBLEM OF THE PROPHET1 IRFAN SHAHID Celebrated six years ago was the hundredth anniversary of the arrival at these American shores of Gibran Kahlil Gibran, the fore- most Arab-American writer.2 Twenty-eight years after his advent in 1895, a slim volume of his, less than a hundred pages, which could be read in an hour, appeared in print titled The Prophet? It received a wide and immediate vogue and its popularity has not waned in the course of the last eight decades or so since its publication. The sale of the book ran into the millions, more than eight according to the most reliable estimate.4 Thus, The Prophet outsold all American poets from Whitman to Eliot. According to its publisher, Alfred Knopf, the book’s success was entirely due to its own appeal since no publicity whatsoever has ever been mounted to promote its sale. In addition to the sale of these millions of copies, the book has been translated into all major and some minor languages of the world, according to some estimates into fifty.5 Consequently, Gibran is the only Arab or Arabic-speaking author who succeeded in authoring a book that has had this extensive presence in the four corners of the earth. Although he was by birth a Lebanese Arabic-speaking writer, 1 This article is based on a paper delivered at the Library of Congress Arab- American Cultural Relations Conference, September 1995 and is published by per- mission of the Library of Congress, granted on the 23rd of July, 1997. 2 The bibliography on Gibran is extensive and is still growing. See Fawzi Abdulrazzak, “Adab al-Mahjar: Bibliyugrafiyyah,” Mundus Arabicus I (Cambridge, 1981): 89-230; for studies in English and other Western Languages, see Francine H. McNulty, ibid., 65-88 and Jean Gibran and Kahlil Gibran, Kahlil Gibran: His Life and World (New York: Interlink Books, 1974, reprint 1991), 446-451. 3 Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1923). 4 This figure was supplied by Alfred Knopf’s publicity department on May 24, 1991. I am grateful to my student David Marcus at Georgetown for making the inquiry. 3 See the article of the scholar whom this Festschrift honors, “The Contributions of Arab Immigrants in North America to Arabic Literature,” The First One Hundred Years: A Centennial Anthology Celebrating Antiochian Orthodoxy in North America., ed. George S. Corey, et al. (Englewood, N.J.: Antakya Press, 1995), 86. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 322 IRFAN SHAHID he spent almost three-quarters of his short life on earth in America,6 where he wrote his masterpiece The Prophet, not in Arabic his mother tongue, but in English, the language of the country of which he became a naturalized citizen, amid the challenges of the American scene, and where the millions of copies have sold and are still being sold; and it was an American writer that fifty translators or so deemed worthy of rendition into their respective languages. And yet this book, the reputation of which has become truly global as an American classic, has been snubbed by the Grove of Akademe in the United States. The Ivy League universities do not teach him as an American author, let alone as a classic; he has never been allowed admission to the Canon and his place is neither in the “Grove, nor in the Garden, nor in the Stoa, nor in the Tub,” but is in the Agora, to which he is consigned or ostracized, by the umpires of literary taste in the Establishment. Even the most American of all philosophies, namely Pragmatism, has not been applied to him: the philosophy that judges the truth of any system by its success and how it works in practice; and that, on the strength of the millions of copies sold, should have elevated him to a higher level of literary standing. Not only has he been banished from the Canon and from university syllabi, but also from standard anthologies of American literature. The latest and the most prestigious, The Heath Anthology of American Literature, does not include him.7 And this is not a slim anthology, but one that con- sists of two thick volumes, a work of some five thousand pages, with- out a single page from Gibran, while it includes works, the Americanism of which are perhaps not as strong as that of Gibran’s The Prophet. Jose Marti was a distinguished Cuban writer; although he lived in America for a short time, yet he wrote in Spanish and his Neustra America is included and so are a number of corridos, Spanish Mexican ballads or songs all translated from Spanish. The process of ban- ishing Gibran from the mainstream of American literature or even 6 Born in 1883 and died in 1931. 7 The Heath Anthology of American Literature (Lexington, Massachusetts: D. Heath and Company, 1994), vol. I-II. For Nuestra America, that challenging and remarkable essay, see vol. II, 821-828; for the corridos, 828-845. My colleagues in the Spanish Department at Georgetown tell me that Neustra America was originally written in Spanish. The non-inclusion of Gibran, or at least a selection from his writings is truly surprising, especially as this anthology is known for its multi-cultural inclu- sions, reflecting the ethnic diversity of America; cf. the inclusion of FitzGerald in his entirety in another anthology; infra n. 19. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON 323 consciousness is reflected also in his non-inclusion in The Dictionary of American Biography, The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, and Who’s Who in America.8 Surely this is a genuine, not a fictitious, problem or question and it has bearing on the life of the Arab-American community—its cul- tural identity and its place in the multi-ethnic society in America to which it also belongs. The problem has relevance to the concept of emigre and comparative literature in general. In fact it invites com- parison with one of the most outstanding examples of the success of an emigre writer, Joseph Conrad, the Pole, who was given a warm embrace by the English Establishment, thus contrasting with the cold shoulder given Gibran by the American. This article is divided into two parts: in the first, will be exam- ined whatever legitimate reasons the Establishment has against The Prophet; in the second, the case will be stated for the inclusion of Gibran, if not in the hallowed Canon, at least in anthologies of American Literature. The cases of three literary artists who attained world-wide celebrity also will be examined because of their relevance to the problem of The Prophet, namely, Frederik Nietzsche, Edward FitzGerald, and T.S. Eliot. I The reservations or the objections of the Establishment might run along the following lines: 1. The Prophet does not admit of a satisfactory categorization in terms of recognized literary genres or representation of a well-known school. It is neither a novel nor a short story nor a long poem. This con- ception of The Prophet and how it operates to the disadvantage of its author, Gibran, becomes clearer when Gibran is contrasted with another countryman of his, a Lebanese who was accepted immedi- ately by the French Literary Establishment, George Schehade. By composing in the idiom of the surrealists, he became one of the best representatives of surrealism in modern French literature and almost won the Nobel Prize. 8 Strange enough, the Gibran who is included in “Who’s Who” is his namesake, his relative, the sculptor who nowadays lives in Boston and who with his wife Jean co-authored the book on Gibran, cited supra, n. 2. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 324 IRFAN SHAHID 2. It is probably because of this, that The Prophet in the imagina- tion of the professional literary critic tends to belong to the category of religious literature, which conception assigns its author to the sta- tus of a religious leader or more pejoratively to an Oriental guru rather than a man-of-letters. His acceptance, especially in religious circles such as the Unitarians, the Friends, and the Baha’is seems to confirm the judgement of the literary critic as to the regions to which The Prophet belongs. The very title of the book suggests or corrobo- rates this impression as well as the various chapters of the book, which sound as sermonettes delivered from a pulpit. That this must have been the case is supported by the fact that The Prophet in book- shops is not to be found in the section on literature, but in that of religion. The best confirmation of this view was, however, the adapta- tion of The Prophet as a religious drama which was presented as such, almost annually at a Christian church in New York, St. Mark’s in- the-Bouwerie, the pastor of which, Dr. William Norman Guthrie, christ- ened another book of Gibran’s, Jesus The Son of Man, as the “Gospel according to Gibran,” thus making of Gibran the fifth Evangelist!9 3. In the Inter-War period, beginning with the twenties, the lit- erary world for a long time to come was in the grip of T.S. Eliot, who, both as poet and critic, revolutionized first English and then world poetry and also created the taste by which the new poetry was to be appreciated. Almost everything he did, and especially his Waste Land, the most influential poem of the twentieth century, pub- lished a year before The Prophet must have disinclined the critics of the Establishment from considering Gibran seriously: a — Eliot carried an implacable war against the Romantics, accus- ing them of sentimentality and lack of precision in poetic expres- sion. Gibran was irretrievably a Romantic, and the critics who were speaking the new idiom of Eliot had no use for the Gibranic roman- ticism, especially coming as it did from an outsider, whose very name advertized his otherness.10 9 On this, see Barbara Young, This Man from Lebanon (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1950), 33. In spite of the fire that Barbara Young’s book has been under, it does have valuable data on Gibran, owed only to her. 10 Gibran himself apparently was aware of this when he chose “Gibran” rather than ‘Jubran” as the more aesthetic rendition of his name in English. He also transliterated his middle name not “Khalil,” but “Kahlil.” More confusion was con- tributed by Antione Karam when he transliterated his name as “Djabran” in the new edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam! Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON 325 b – Eliot effected a revolution in the language of English poetry, which, according to him, had become stale and unexciting after the long night of the Romantics and the Victorians; and in the judgement of critics, a great poet is one that develops the powers of expression inherent in a language. Gibran could hardly be considered an inno- vator in this sense. The revolution in poetic diction he effected was in Arabic,11 not in English, and his language in The Prophet could not have been considered innovative and revolutionary as that of Eliot. On the contrary, it brought coal to Newcastle, Biblical rhythms and phrases that could only have further distanced Gibran from the American critic, already indisposed for other reasons toward Gibran, the gate-crasher on the American literary scene. c – Thirdly, Eliot insisted that poets should avoid engaging in direct statements. Poetry should be allusive and suggestive or oblique. But The Prophet consists of pronouncements almost all of which vio- late these recommendations. They are direct statements that plum- met most of the time to the level of downright didacticism, and the reader could feel that he was being sermonized by Gibran, who speaks with the assurance that he had the “True Gospel.” So much for the Establishment and for Eliot as the nemesis of Gibran. In addition to what has just been said, there also is the fact that the American literary critic in his dismissive attitude to the author of The Prophet hardly knows anything about Gibran—the real Gibran, who was the foremost literary figure of Arabic literature in America, who revolutionized the course of Arabic literature in the Arab home- land, and who is still alive today in the consciousness of Arab men- of-letters and of avid readers even after a hundred years, thus illustrating Ezra Pound’s famous dictum that “literature is news that stays news.” If the American critic knew the real Gibran, his atti- tude would change or may change. Because then, he would realize that he is dealing with a true literary artist and The Prophet, what- ever its limitations, is a work of literary art in the strictest sense of belles-lettres. But unfortunately, the gulf is difficult to bridge. The ” For this see the long chapter by Salma K. Jayyusi in Trends and Movements in Modem Arabic Poetry (Leiden: EJ. Brill, 1977), Vol. I, 91-107 and her short “Forward” (unpaginated) in Jean and Kahlil Gibran, Kahlil Gibran. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 326 IRFAN SHAHID Arabic works of Gibran are not open to the inspection of the American literary critic and no FitzGerald has yet appeared to render the Arabic works of Gibran into English as that Anglo-Irishman had done for Omar Khayyam. II All the arguments of the American literary critic can be rebutted or at least faced with counter-arguments, despite the fact that there is an element of truth in them, which, however, is not such as to rel- egate Gibran to the limbo to which he has been consigned. 1. Categorization: this lays Nietzsche himself open to the same objection because Thus Spake Zarathustra in spite of the difference in the outlook of Gibran and Nietzsche, is akin to The Prophet as the work of a German preaching to his countrymen what Gibran was to do in The Prophet. And yet no one has objected to the form in which Nietzsche cast his thought and no critic to my knowledge has on that score refused Thus Spake Zarathustra admittance to the German Canon, where it has rightly rested as one of the glories of German, indeed, European literature. As to its being a work more related to religious literature, especially of the Orient, rather than a secular work of art, the same may be said of one of the major works of English literature, namely, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and yet no one condemned it on that score. When Eliot opened fire against Milton, it was not on that ground that he did so. Eliot himself ended up almost speaking from the pulpit of the Anglo-Catholic church, and no one found his conversion or its lit- erary expression exceptionable. The charge against Gibran of being romantic in the pejorative, dismissive sense is the easiest charge to rebut. Notwithstanding the prestige of the great poet/critic who advanced it, the Romantics are one of the classics of English and other European literature. Eliot’s psyche may not have had a place for romanticism, but his was a strange and complex one, perhaps even morbid, and his Waste Land, the most celebrated poem of the century, was written while he was in a hospital in Switzerland, recuperating from a nervous breakdown. But the overwhelming majority of human beings are romantics, at least at a certain stage in their lives. Hence Romantic poetry is not factitious, contrived poetry, but one that answers to deeply seated Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON 327 human needs and drives. It is unfortunate that sometimes it degen- erates into mere sentimentalism that robs it of all emotional robust- ness, even manliness, as when one of its best representatives, none other that Shelley, says, “I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed.” But this line is not representative and the “Ode to the West Wind” remains one of the gems in the treasury of English verse. As to Gibran’s failure to effect a revolution in the language through which he wrote The Prophet, this is a true observation. But it should not so count against him as to deny him recognition as an American writer. Few are the poets who can be credited with this achieve- ment. It was done by the Romantic Wordsworth and he announced it in the introduction to his Lyrical Ballads, but English poetry had to wait for another century or so until Eliot appeared and effected a second revolution in the language of English poetry, with Whitman as a precursor. Between the two, all the Romantic and Victorian poets in England were writing in the same idiom that was bequeathed to them by the Romantics, and so they cannot be denied their place in the gallery of English poetry because they wrote in the idiom fashioned by their predecessors. Besides, English was not Gibran’s native language, and as has already been said, he did effect a revolu- tion in Arabic; so it is extravagant to expect him to effect a second revolution in another language, especially as the circumstances of his life were not conducive to that. For most of his life, which was rel- atively short, he consorted with his fellow Arab writers, and had no American wife, which would have ensured greater immersion in English. And it was only in the last decade of his life that he wrote his English works, of which The Prophet was one. Yet the English of The Prophet is attractive in its own way with its Biblical flavor, and can be appreciated for its effectiveness in employing a Biblical style, adapted to the taste of twentieth-century America. 2. A more fundamental reply to the indifference of the Establish- ment to Gibran may be the realization that the Canon itself is “a construct, fashioned by particular people for particular reasons at a certain time.”12 Such is the considered judgement of a distinguished 12 See Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction (Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), 11. I should like to thank my colleague, Professor John Hirsch of the English Department for some fruitful conversations on how the American Canon was formed in the forties and fifties, on the factors that governed its formation, and how the two Columbia anthologies of those days reflected it. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 328 IRFAN SHAHID literary theorist, Terry Eagleton, and there is an element of truth in this. Aesthetic judgements tend to be subjective, governed by a vari- ety of non-literary elements or factors that go into their formulation. Many are the works of art, literary, plastic, or musical, that have been condemned when they first appeared, were later recognized as masterpieces, and vice versa; many that have been acclaimed and hailed ended up in critical oblivion. This is not an attempt to dis- credit aesthetics and the impressive conceptual apparatus that philoso- phers, initially Germans, who have worked out its details. It is only to say that there are cases when the Canon may be said not to be infallible and that in the case of Gibran’s The Prophet., many were the non-literary elements that entered into the process of evaluation and that resulted in its exclusion from the American heritage fold. Before I come to these non-literary factors and present three cases which by contrast illuminate these factors, I should like to refer to some authors who have been impressed by The Prophet. The most often quoted is Claude Bragdon and his judgement appears on the jacket of copies of The Prophet. It reads as follows: His power came from some great reservoir of spiritual life, else it could not have been so universal and potent, but the majesty and beauty of the language with which he clothed it were all his own. This evaluation apparently did not do Gibran much good in sophis- ticated literary circles and it may have done some harm in that it could convey to them the impression that The Prophet found no patrons to endorse its literary quality and advertize it on the jacket other than one who was not a member of the Establishment, but who was known more as an architect than as a bona fide literary critic.13 Gibran’s admirers, however, were not limited to Claude Bragdon. None other than George William Russell, a major figure in twentieth century Irish literature, to whom the Dictionary of National Biography gives space almost equal to what is given to James Joyce, grew lyrical when he remembered The Prophet. Here are samples from his chapter on Gibran:14 13 For some insightful comments on Gibran, see his chapter titled “A Modern Prophet from Lebanon,” Merry Players (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1929), 139-147. 14 See George William Russell (also known as “AE.”) in The Living Torch (London: MacMillan, 1937), 168-169. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON 329 Kahlil Gibran as well as Tagore has expressed the mystical faith of Asia … I do not think the East has spoken with so beautiful a voice since the Gitanjali15 of Rabindranath Tagore as in The Prophet of Kahlil Gibran, who is artist as well as poet. I have not seen for years a book more beautiful in thought, and when reading it I understand better than ever before, what Socrates meant in the Banquet when he spoke of the beauty of thought, which exercises a deeper enchantment than the beauty of form … I could quote from every page and from every page I could find some beautiful and liberating thought… I wonder has the East many more poets to reveal to us? … It is only when a voice comes from India or China or Arabia that we get the thrill of strangeness from the beauty, and we feel that it might inspire another of the great passions of humanity. George William Russell had no reason to flatter Gibran, and he was a fastidious critic possessed of an independent judgement and cer- tainly was not playing to the gallery. Some may say that his admi- ration was derived from the fact that he saw in Gibran a kindred spirit, in view of his interest in theosophy and oriental thought, but so was Goethe, the foremost German poet, who was deeply interested in the Orient, but this never militated against accepting his literary judgements; furthermore, Russell did have strong reservations about other oriental literary figures, so he was a discriminating critic who approached Gibran without any of the prejudices of the critics who denounced Gibran or damned him with faint praise.16 So much then for arguments and counter-arguments. Now it is time that the non-literary elements or even factors that worked against Gibran and his acceptance by the literary Establishment are addressed. These were disadvantages that plagued him: a poor emigrant, who hardly spoke any English when he landed in America at the tender age of 12 and who lived in the Chinatown of Boston; he had no formal education, college or university, other than a biennium in school, when he went back to ground himself in his own native lan- guage in Beirut. His intimate friends were his own Lebanese and Syrian literati17 who formed the literary circle called al-Rabita al- Qalamiyya, and not well-known established American men of letters 15 The poems that won Tagore the Nobel Prize in 1913. 16 Such as Stefan Kanfer; see The New York Times Magazine (June 25, 1972): 8ff. I have been unable to find anything about Kanfer’s background or identity. 17 For these colleagues of Gibran in al-Rabita (literally The Pen Bond), see the attractive chapter with vivid vignettes of its members in Mikha’il Naimy (Mikhail Na’ima), Sab’un (Beirut, 1964), vol. II, 163-175. On al-Rabita as the literary circle of the Arab-American writers, see Cornelis Nijland in “Al-Rabita al-Qalamiyya: An Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 330 IRFAN SHAHID and literary critics. Finally, he did not belong to an ethnic group in America that had been well established in this country and that had discovered its cultural identity, let alone contributed to the cultural life of America. If this had been the case, Gibran might have had the support of such a community and his image in the American literary mirror might have been clearer and better. That these dis- advantages under which he labored were partly responsible for the cool or tepid reception which he received, or even were mostly responsible for the indifference of the literary Establishment to The Prophet, will become crystal clear when works of three European lit- erary artists are discussed, artists who had all the advantages he was denied, advantages that were partly responsible for their success and popularity: Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra, FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat, and Eliot’s Waste Land, and all three are related in one way or another to Gibran’s The Prophet. 1. Reference has already been made to Nietzsche and how no critic found it exceptionable that he cast his thought in the form of a monologue, put in the mouth of the Oriental Persian Prophet, Zoroaster. Unlike Gibran, Nietzsche had every advantage of birth and education. Appointed to a professorship at the university of Basle while he was still an undergraduate, he taught classical philology there and so he belonged to the elitist German academic commu- nity, among whom the classicists were the aristocrats. He could count among his friends Wagner and Schopenhauer. And it was from his professorial chair at Basle that he began quite early in life his liter- ary activity as a man of letters and a philosopher, thus contrasting with Gibran, who alternated between Chinatown in Boston and a modest studio in Greenwich Village in New York. 2. Even more relevant and telling is the case of FitzGerald and the Rubaiyat. FitzGerald studied at Cambridge where he met the novelist Thackery and through him, Alfred Tennyson, the future poet laureate, and later Carlyle. So he, too, moved in the circle of the Establishment from the very beginning of his career. Even so, his translation of the Rubaiyat, the quatrains of a medieval Oriental poet, received no attention from the reading public; and the pub- lisher, who had advertised it for one shilling per copy, sold not a Arabic Literary Circle in New York,” Bibliotheca Orientalis, 50, nos. 3-4 (1993): 329—341. The life span of this literary circle ran for eleven years, from 1920 until 1931 when Gibran died and with him al-Rabita. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON 331 single one for two years, 1859-1861. When he reduced the price to one penny and put the pile of unsold copies in a bargain box out- side his shop, it was bought accidently by one, Whitley Stokes by name, who gave it to Dante Gabriel Rosetti, who in turn brought it to the attention of Browning and Swineburne, and from these it reached Meredith and finally Ruskin. And it was thus, with the “blessing of the Pre-Raphaelites” that the popularity of the Rubdiydt was launched, through the endorsement of powerful critics and dis- tinguished Victorian poets.18 It was also in this way that the Rubaiyat received a new lease on life this side of the Atlantic, when a pow- erful and influential critic, none other than Charles Eliot Norton, who from his professorial niche at Harvard gave his blessing and ensured its popularity in America.19 Since then Omar and FitzGerald have become household words in the English-speaking world and many a phrase from the Rubaiyat have become part and parcel of the English language such as “I came like water and like wind I go,” or “The moving finger writes and having writ, moves on.”20 3. Finally, there are Eliot and his Waste Land, published one year before The Prophet, and like The Prophet, a slim volume of some four hundred verses. It became the most influential English poem in this century and even in the world, in spite of the fact that the poem has no independent existence since it is unintelligible without the notes which the author thought necessary to append, the curious medley of languages used in it, and the difficulty of following the argument even with the help of the annotation. Although the poem’s 18 On this, see Dick Davis, Edward FitzGerald: Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Penguin, 1989), 40, and indeed the whole valuable introduction (pages 1—41), the most recent on the Rubaiyat. 19 In a long article which appeared in October 1869 in the North American Review, see also AJ. Arberry, The Romance of the Rubaiyat (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1959), 26, where the author quotes the enthusiastic passage from Norton’s article that welcomed FitzGerald into the American literary scene. The memory of Charles Eliot Norton is still alive today perpetuated by an Endowed Chair at Harvard University, which carries his name and with it the Rubaiyat he was the first to acclaim in this country. For a detailed study of the Rubaiyat as the classic of all translations, see the present writer in his Inaugural Lecture, “Omar Khayyam: The Philosopher-Poet of Medieval Islam” (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1981). 20 Noteworthy is the fact that not a selection from the Rubaiyat, but the entire one hundred and one are included in works that are supposed to be anthologies, and this, in spite of the possibility of a selective presentation of them, since each qua- train is a self-contained unit of composition; see The Norton Anthology of English Literature (New York: W. Norton and Company, 1968), Vol. II, 1179-1190; cf. supra, n. 6. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 332 IRFAN SHAHID power is undeniable, yet its immediate and wide appeal is partly owed to many extra non-literary factors that raised it to the pedestal upon which it has now rested for decades and that has kept it firmly in the good graces of elitist literary critics. A quick enumeration will reveal the operation of these factors and currents, all of which con- trast stridently with those that ran against Gibran. Eliot was born into an aristocratic family, a member of which had founded Washington University in St. Louis. He himself went to the leading school in the country—Harvard University—where he did his graduate work toward a Doctorate on the philosopher F.H. Bradley. As if Harvard were not enough, he moved then to the Sorbonne in Paris and thence to Oxford. Thus he studied at the three major universities of the Western world, moving in distinguished academic and literary circles, mak- ing acquaintanceships and friendships with everybody who was any- body in literature, among whom suffice it to mention the Cambridge Philosopher Bertrand Russell and E.R. Dodds, the Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, both of whom remembered Eliot in their writ- ings, thus lending the prestige of their paramount place in Oxbridge academia to the reputation of the American poet. Like Gibran, Eliot was an emigrant from his country, who left the United States, settled in England, took British citizenship and became an Anglo-Catholic, thoroughly identifying himself with the ethos of the “Sceptered Isle” and writing on the English scene works such as the martyrdom of Thomas Becket in his Murder in the Cathedral. Consequently, Eliot was wholeheartedly accepted by the English literary Establishment and this acceptance was reflected posthumously in a plaque for him, placed in that crowded precinct, the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. All this contrasts with Gibran’s place in American society where he remained an outsider, who had no strong affiliations or connections with academic or literary circles that mattered. No Ezra Pound in America endorsed his writings as Eliot’s masterpiece Waste Land was, dedicated to il miglior fabbro, Pound, whose imprimatur of that poem launched it into that extraordinary course of unrelieved success and into that altitude from which it has never descended. Perhaps the foregoing paragraphs have not failed to suggest, even indicate, that Gibran has not been treated fairly as an American writer. The Prophet may not be an American classic such as Whitman’s Leaves of Grass or Eliot’s Waste Land, but it should have a place at Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. GIBRAN AND THE AMERICAN LITERARY CANON 333 least in an American Heritage Anthology and be given a chance of being seriously considered by sophisticated literary taste in America. The East, more specifically the Near East, has contributed three clas- sics to the Western World, that are, moreover, among the most widely read in Europe and America: the Bible, The Arabian Nights, and the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. If The Prophet cannot be placed on the same pedestal as these three classics, it should not be too distant from the last, the Rubaiyat, and it is distinguished from the three by being not a translation, but a work of literary art com- posed not in Hebrew, Syriac, Greek, Arabic, or Persian, but in the language of the country, English. And so it should be in the com- pany of those books that are the contribution of the Near East, in this case the Arab Near East, to the American literary scene. This is not a call for the application of Affirmative Action to the literary arena, only a gentle reminder to the American critic to overcome nonchalance or indifference. Those of us who are not guiltless of Arabic and who read Gibran’s work in that language know that he is a genuine literary artist who, moreover, was truly inspired by more than one Muse.21 So when he chose to write in the language of his adopted country, he was and remained the same artist, but writing in a different linguistic medium, which in the considered judgement of fair and disinterested critics he had mastered. The American critic, innocent of Arabic and Gibran’s Arabic works, is faced with the problem of accepting a work, that is, The Prophet., which stands in splendid isolation, severed from all the background reading in Arabic, necessary for convinc- ing the critic that he is dealing with a writer of sterling value. One way of bridging this gulf, or to start the dialogue that has not begun, is to have better translations of his Arabic works into English by those for whom translation is not a mechanical process, but an art. It is extravagant to expect that any one of these potential transla- tors will be another FitzGerald, but hopefully, they will be within measurable distance from him. Even if this happens, it will not be the end of the encounter of the American critic with Gibran. That critic must evaluate The Prophet on its own merits. It will only be the 21 Gibran was an artist as well as a man of letters and his model was William Blake. He painted and drew and was also a well-known portraitist. Some famous personalities of the time sat for him, such as the poets Yeats, al-Baha , Masefield and Rabindranath Tagore. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 334 IRFAN SHAHID beginning of the dialogue when, in approaching The Prophet, this hypothetical critic will be relieved of an attitude to The Prophet, that had condemned it without appeal as being unworthy of even being considered.22 The most that one can hope for is that he will approach it with an open mind without any preconceived ideas. Then and only then will the American literary critic realize or may realize that in dealing with Gibran, he is dealing with one of the true literary voices of the twentieth century, who represents the contribution of the Arab community in these United States to the American liter- ary heritage. 22 A step in the right direction has been taken by Eugene P. Nassar. See his chapter on Gibran in “Cultural Discontinuity in the Works of Kahlil Gibran,” in Essays Critical and Meta-critical (Rutherford, NJ.: Fairleigh Dickenson University Press, 1983), 84-102. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:13:26. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved.
NO PLAGIARISM PLEASE FOLLOW ALL OF THE BULLET POINTS AND INSTRUCTIONSPart 1: Is uploaded already in the file that says Part 1 of Gibran Project. All you have to for Part 1 is to include it with the re
EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY: THE CASE OF ARAB-AMERICAN WRITERS HALIM BARAKAT And hence an exile am I, and an exile I shall remain until death lifts me up and bears me even unto my country. Gibran, from The Tempests Phoenix, your banishment and mine are one. Adonis This inquiry into the life and works of Arab-American writers is part of a much broader attempt at free exploration into the nature of an intricate process of inter-relationships between creativity and exile. In a previous unpublished work in Arabic, I originally conducted such an inquiry focusing on literary creativity associated with a pecu- liar form of migration (hijra) akin to alienation and uprootedness. At the time I envisioned this form of hijra as intertwined with profound and enduring feelings of exile as a result of a continuing identification with and a lasting nostalgia for one’s native country in contrast to another form of voluntary hijra that ends in self-fusion or immersion into and adoption of the identity of the host country.1 For sometime since then, I have been trying to develop my views in this area benefiting from related works in the fields of sociology of literature and sociology of knowledge and cultural studies in gen- eral, focusing more specifically on comparative studies of literature of exile. I benefited as well from the experiences of my generation of Arab writers currently residing in Europe and America and my own personal experience as portrayed in my novel Ta’ir al-Howm (The Crane, 1988). Throughout this search, I began to formulate some general observ- ations about broader conditions contributing to creativity in Arabic 1 Halim Barakat, “Tasa’ulat hawla al-cAlaqa bayn al-Ibdac wa 1-Hijra” (Inquiries into the relationship between creativity and migration), a presentation at Assila cul- tural festival on Arab intellectuals abroad (al-mufakkirun al-carab fi l-mahjar), Morocco, August 24-27, 1987. This presentation was further developed and delivered at a seminar for the Middle East section of the Library of Congress celebrating its 50 years of service, Sept. 29, 1995. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 305 literature: the severity of exile, Ovidian banishment, encounters of civilizations, cultural pluralism, and sanctuaries that provide safe dis- tances from centers of political and social-cultural authorities in home countries. With this task in mind, I began to wonder about the secrets behind the rich innovativeness of the Abbasid and Andalusian Arabic writ- ings and the role they played in the development of new forms of cultural expressions. Hence the preoccupation of Arab literary crit- ics with social and cultural diversity in the Abbasid period and con- tinuity and change in Andalusian poetry.2 This has led me in turn to broaden my observations by examining those peculiarities of his- torical periods which witnessed special cultural innovativeness as dur- ing the Abbasid era—an era characterized by decentralization of political and social authority, emergence of pluralism and fermenta- tion of inter-cultural exchange between the dominant civilizations at the time. Two other periods—those following the weakening and collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the second half of the twenti- eth century which witnessed several crises leading to the develop- ment of acute consciousness and critical thought bent on re-examining Arab reality. I must point out that I have been encouraged to pursue this inter- est of mine in exploring the nature of relationship between exile and creativity because of its acute relevance to the understanding of the lengthy transitional modern period through which Arab society has been undergoing severe crises. Throughout this century, there have been constant Arab intellectual migration to Europe and the Americas. Here, I am referring in particular to the migration at the turn of the century and subsequent appearance of literary circles and works which contributed to the modernization or even the revolutioniza- tion of Arabic writings. The founding in 1921 of al-Rabita al-Qalamiyya (Pen League) by Gibran Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), Mikhail Nu’aymah (1889-1988), Iliya Abu Madi (1890-1957), and a few oth- ers represented the maturity of the mahjari cultural movement which constituted the first significant wave of literary modernity in con- temporary Arab life. It is this movement in my opinion which is most illustrative of my argument with respect to the existence of a positive relationship between creativity and exile. Before I attempt 2 Salma Khadra Jayyusi, “Al-Shi’r al-Andalusi: al-cAlaqa maca al-Mashriq,” Nadwa. no. 3 (June 1995). Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 306 HALIM BARAKAT to develop this thesis, however, I feel obligated to define both con- cepts with some elaboration. My definition of exile is not restricted to forceful banishment by political authorities. The literature in this area of research has often distinguished between involuntary and voluntary forms of exile. In the former case, as stated by Bettina L. Knapp, a person is “ban- ished or expelled from one’s native land by authoritative decree” in comparison to the latter situation where “one escapes persecution, evades punishment or stressful circumstances, or carves out a new existence for oneself.”3 Knapp also distinguished between exoteric and esoteric forms of exile. By the former, she referred to “banishment outside country”— a form which “may be identified with extroverted behavioral pat- terns” whereby “meaning and value are applied mostly to external objects rather than to inner subjective matters.”4 An instance of exo- teric exile, according to Knapp, is the flight or Hijra of Prophet Muhammad to Yathrib. “Esoteric or private exile”, on the other hand, “suggests a withdrawal on the part of individual from the empirical realm and a desire to live predominantly in the inner world.”5 Thus, to live inwardly or in the subliminal realms is to exile oneself from outside relationships. An instance of this esoteric expe- rience is represented by Islamic mystics who preach spiritual and emotional exile.6 To illustrate her views, Knapp refers to Voltaire, Heine, and Hugo who exiled themselves from their native land. During Hugo’s eighteen- year exile (1852-70) from France, he wrote some of his greatest poems. For Proust who considered true life to exist only in the cre- ative process, esoteric exile became a way of life. Joseph Conrad knew both exoteric and esoteric exile. His Heart of Darkness (1902) was written after his journey/exile to Central Africa. Similarly, James Joyce chose exile from his native Ireland. Several other most inno- vative writers such as Henry James, Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passes, W.H. Auden, and Aldous Huxley were displaced from their native lands. There were also Latin 3 Bettina L. Knapp, Exile and the Writer: Exoteric and Esoteric Experiences in A Jungian Approach (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991), 1. 4 Ibid., 1-2. 5 Ibid, 1-2. 6 Ibid, 6. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 307 American writers including Carlos Fuentes, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez who had the same experiences producing some of the best literary works of this century.7 It is in Knapp’s view that “to retreat into the transpersonal inner recesses of the psyche, defined by C.G.Jung, as the collective uncon- scious … is to penetrate a world inaccessible for the most part to conscious understanding.”8 Thus it is from the collective unconscious and mythical layers that great writers draw their best materials. That may explain why ships and sea voyages, symbolically viewed, involve passages through space and time, suggesting an unconscious need on the part of travelers to recast their life experiences in the most creative forms. This is embodied in Noah’s Ark, Buddha’s role as “the great Navigator”, Osiris’ “Night Sea Crossing”, and Gilgamesh’s voyage to the ocean of death. Hence the view of exile as an art. In the first century A.D., the poet Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) was banished to a remote village of the Black Sea. Inspired by this experience of exile from his native Latin tongue, novelist David Malouf wrote an unusually poetic and moving work of fiction enti- tled An Imaginary Life, a metamorphosis of the poet Ovid in exile. Hence the stirring of new life and painful transformation in the midst of aimless wanderings in lands of fables. By seeing the world through the language of the other, he began to see it differently. Yet in this timeless place, his past reoccurs in all its fullness. Establishing close contact with the other has come to mean re-establishment of con- tact with an enriched self. Beyond boundaries, his mind ventures freely in land of mystery. Thus, his childhood began to return to him discovering his humanity at last. By undergoing these changes, a whisper is heard: “I am the border beyond which you must go if you are to find your true life.”9 There are those Arab writers who chose exile from their native land and they continue to do so in waves. Some, not unlike Odysseus, wandered about the seas of the world hoping for return. There was also those who knew both exoteric and esoteric exile the way Joseph Conrad did. For others, as for Proust or Joyce, exile became a way of life discovering in it a true precondition of creativity. In exile, they wrote their greatest works. This must have led to what is called 7 Ibid, 11-12. 8 Ibid, 13. 9 David Malouf, An Imaginary Life (Vintage International, 1996), 136. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 308 HALIM BARAKAT in Arabic adab al-mahjar (emegre literature) as distinct from literature produced within the native country. The same is true of what is called literature of exile on world wide level which is often produced during a prolonged separation from one’s country. One may also identify a special form of exile whereby writers may refrain from publishing their works inside their native countries or resort to the use of symbols and metaphors in an attempt to escape state censorship and persecution. In fact, my interest in the inter- play of creativity and exile can best be understood in the context of discussing the marginality of Arab writers in their own native land. That may explain why Arab writers who reside abroad have often been told that they can better serve Arab cause by being outside rather than inside. While this exile at home may be among the most severe forms of alienation, the scope of this paper and limited time will not allow me to give it more than a passing reference. For Edward Said, himself banished from his native country and tongue, exile “is predicated on the existence of love for, and a real bond with one’s native place; the universal truth of exile is not that one has lost that love or home . . .”10 In the same context, he notes that exile “far from being the fate of nearly forgotten unfortunates who are dispossessed and expatriated, becomes something closer to a norm, an experience of crossing boundaries and charting new ter- ritories . . .”11 On the other hand and with his own experience as a Palestinian in mind, Said perceives of exile as “the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home. The essential sadness of the break can never be surmounted.”12 In this respect, he adds that “exile is fundamentally a discontinuous state of being. Exiles are cut off from their roots, their land, their past.”13 Having perceived of exile as “one of the saddest fates” and “a condition of terminal loss,” Said then wonders why is it that exile has been “transformed into a potent, even enriching, motif of mod- ern culture,” and concludes that exile “means that you are always 10 Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (N.Y.: Alfred Knopf, 1993), 336. 11 Ibid., 317. 12 “The Mind of Winter: Reflections on Life in Exile,” Harper’s Magazine (Sept., 1984): 49-55. 13 Ibid., 51. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 309 going to be marginal, and that what you do as an intellectual has to be made up because you cannot follow a prescribed path.”14 In Representations of the Intellectual, Said draws our attention to the transformation of exile during the twentieth century from exquisite punishment of special individuals into a cruel punishment of whole communities and peoples. In this category he places Armenians, Palestinians and others who have been victimized by widespread ter- ritorial rearrangements. Because of this condition which he describes as metaphorical, he focused on exiled intellectuals who will not make the adjustments required by living in the host country, “preferring instead to remain outside the mainstream, unaccommodated, unco- opted, resistant.”15 This way the exiled intellectual leads the life of an unyielding and marginal outsider who resists prescribed ways of life. This metaphorical condition of marginality is what I consider a basic source of creativity as I would like to demonstrate later when I address myself to the works of mahjari writers. Here, however, I would point out that Arab-American writers cannot be considered as transplants the way the term was used by Conrad who defined a transplant as someone who is “uprooted” and whose “state of exis- tence” is “unnatural”.16 Conrad himself “turned to writing to tran- scend his transplantation turning the art of seamanship into the art of imaginative literature which became for him the means of sur- viving the hardships of his exile and coming to terms with his own transplanted existence.”17 In fact, he “was constantly haunted by feel- ings of guilt and remorse for leaving behind his trouble-ridden coun- try.”18 We are further told that one of the many paradoxes in Heart of Darkness “conveys Conrad’s view of exile: if a transplant fully identifies himself with the past, he is to die; if the complete identifica- tion is with the newly acquired present, the same fate awaits him.”19 The exile’s condition as defined by Edward Said generates feel- ings not only of sadness and nostalgia but also of wanting to explore 14 Ibid., 49, and Representations of the Intellectual (N.Y.: Pantheon Books, 1994), 62. 15 Ibid., 52. 16 Asher Z. Milbauer, Transcending Exile (Florida International University Press, 1985), xi. 17 Ibid., 4. 18 Ibid., 8. 19 Ibid., 21-22. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 310 HALIM BARAKAT uncharted horizons. Such are the exact feelings of exile expressed by Mahmud Darwish, the most celebrated of the Palestinian poets. His poetry conveys the feelings of sadness experienced by Palestinians living in a state of uprootedness or under occupation: Where should we go after the last frontiers, Where should the birds fly after the last sky?20 Such feelings are also as vividly expressed by Fawaz Turki, another exiled Palestinian writer who has lived a vulnerable condition of mar- ginality unable to accommodate the demands and norms of both the native and the host countries: If you have not met Palestinians in exile, you are fortunate …. They live inside the belly of the whale . . . waiting for the beast to spit them out.21 These feelings—as expressed by Darwish, Turki and others are not unlike those expressed in the Psalms of David during the Hebrews’ captivity: By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. By the rivers of Babylon, there lived a Palestinian in exile. His name was Jabra Ibrahim Jabra (whose name always resonated in my mind the name of Gibran Kahlil Gibran). Jabra told us (in a paper entitled”The Palestinian Exile as Writer”)22 that the “Palestinian may still be an exile and a wanderer, but his voice is raised in anger, not in 20 Edward W. Said, After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives (N.Y.: Pantheon Books, 1985), 2. 21 Fawaz Turki, Poems From Exile (Washington, D.C.: Free Palestine Press), 16-17. 22 Here it may be appropriate to mention that Jabra wrote this paper upon my request at a time when Hisham Sharabi and I agreed to prepare a special issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies on Palestinian society and culture. The project never materialized, but by reading Jabra’s letters to me (including two letters dated October 23, 1978 and November 21, 1978), I was reminded of the episode which I totally forgot. By going back to old issues of the Journal of Palestine Studies, I discovered to my amazement that the article mentioned in his letters was indeed published in issue 30 no. 2, vol. 7 (winter 1979): 77-87. The article was reprinted in a collec- tion of works by Jabra entitled A Celebration of Life: Essays on Literature and Art (Baghdad: Dar Al-Ma’mun, 1988), and in Jusoor, no. 7/8, 1996. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 311 lamentations”, and by losing Palestine, he further tells us, Palestinians began to realize they “had confronted a ruthless modern force with an outmoded tradition. Everything had to change. And change had to begin at the base, with a change of vision. A new way of look- ing at things. A new way of saying things. A new way of approach- ing and portraying man and the world.”23 This sense of loss in exile, according to Jabra “is a sense of hav- ing lost a part of an inner self, a part of an inner essence. An exile feels incomplete even though everything he could want physically were at his fingertips. He is obsessed by the thought that only a return home could do away with such a feeling, end the loss, rein- tegrate the inner self.”24 The sense of loss and wandering was both collective and personal, deeply rooted in their dispersal. To demon- strate that each Palestinian was an exile after his own fashion, Jabra recalls that Tawfiq Sayigh, a poet in exile no matter where he lived, had a famous dictum: “Worse than exile abroad is exile within one’s own homeland”, meaning by homeland the Arab world. The dom- inant theme of his poetry was alienation in exile. So was the story of his life as told by Jabra. He died as an exile at Berkeley, California, and was buried there in a vast cemetery, with a Chinese man on his right and a Japanese on his left: a stranger to the bitter end. What is more closely pertinent to my exploration in exile and cre- ativity is the conversation Jabra had with Arnold Toynbee in Baghdad back in 1957. Toynbee, Jabra says in the above paper, likened Palestinian expulsion from their country “to the expulsion by the Turks of Greek thinkers and artists from Byzantium in 1453; these thinkers then spread throughout Europe and were a major factor in ending the European dark ages and bringing about the Renaissance. The Palestinians, he told me, were having the same seminal influence on the Arab world. It was their fate to be the generators of a new age, the heralds of a new civilization. . . . Palestine had released into the world a force of radical change”.25 In his introduction to an edited book on Latin American litera- ture of exile, Hans-Bernhard Moeller similarly points out that “Exile 23 Jabra I. Jabra, “The Palestinian in Exile As Writer,” Journal of Palestine Studies, issue 30, no. 2, vol. 7 (winter 1979): 82. 24 Ibid., 83. 25 Ibid., 85. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 312 HALIM BARAKAT literature is produced during a prolonged separation from one’s coun- try by stress of circumstances.”26 This applies both to Palestinians as well as to other Arab migrants to the Americas whether forced to leave their countries or voluntary exiles. John M. Spalek stated in this edited volume that the general char- acteristics that cut across national boundaries and are common to all exile literatures include: preponderance of lyric poetry, prolific output of autobiographies, diaries, and autobiographical fiction which dwells on the past and childhood and confrontation with home coun- try. He also speaks of a sort of liberating experience of exile imply- ing the presence of closeness between exile and existential experience of being a stranger. In this sense, exile acts as a precondition of freedom. This in turn is inseparable from the exile’s experience of time as a dilemma of living in the past and the present. To this effect, the Spanish writer Francisco Ayala describes the exiled writ- ers as living in parentheses, i.e. between a frequently idealized past and a hope for return imparting their own awareness of time to their characters, and transforming such an experience of time into poetic metaphors.27 Furthermore, encounters or collision with host country may oscillate between the extremes of rejection and acceptance, withdrawal and immersion. In this way, exiled writers may live fragmented lives feel- ing certain obligations both to their native and host countries and creating their own sub-cultures, pending how much they have in common with adopted country. On the other hand, they may be enriched through the development of a universal vision as in the case of Amin al-Rihani and Gibran in spite of traumatic dislocations. David Bevan also pointed out in an introduction to an edited book on literature and exile that “both theorists and exiles themselves. . . have long debated whether the experience is predominantly one that invigorates or mutilates. For some, the sense of release, of critical distance, of renewed identity, of fusion or shock of cultures and even of languages, is interpreted as productive, generating a proposition that originality of vision must almost necessarily derive from the transgressing and transcending of frontiers. However, for others, phys- ical displacement means rather rejection, alienation, anguish and, 26 Hans-Bernhard Moeller (ed.), Latin America and the Literature of Exile (Heidelberg, 1983), 9. 27 Ibid., 82. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 313 quite possibly, suicide.”28 But he adds that both Henry James and Joseph Conrad left their countries for England, and “both seem to have adopted British customs and traditions with the peculiar inten- sity of religious converts”, but then adds that “both remained some- what ambivalent and unresolved about this decision.”29 Having outlined what is meant by exile, I must make a similar attempt at defining literary creativity. Here creativity is defined in terms of an unusual mental and emotional capacity, combined with special talents and strong motivation, to “uncover previously unknown interconnections between things”.30 In other words, it is something we are not used to seeing and relating to. C.R. Rogers also defined the creative process as “the emergence in action of a novel relational product, growing out of the unique- ness of the individual on the one hand, and the materials, events, people, or circumstances of his life on the other”.31 He further elab- orates that “the mainspring of creativity appears to be … man’s ten- dency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities.”32 In order to identify some of the basic elements of creativity, ref- erence may be made to Freud’s observation that a “child at play behaves like a creative writer, in that he creates a world of his own or, rather, rearranges the things of his world in a new way which pleases him.”33 He adds that the “creative writer does the same thing as the child at play. He creates a world of phantasy which he takes very seriously that is, which he invests with large amounts of emo- tion.”34 Furthermore, we are told that the motive forces of phan- tasies are unsatisfied wishes. Hence the relation in his opinion of phantasies to dreams, and the comparison of the imaginative writer with the dreamer in broad daylight, and of creations with day dreams. Arab writers have their own share of the attempts at defining cre- ativity, which may prove more relevant to my task in exploring the nature of its interrelationship to exile. cAbd al-Kablr al-Khatibl argues 28 David Bevan (ed.), Literature and Exile (Amsterdam-Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1990), 4. 29 Ibid. 30 Georg Lukacs, Studies in European Realism (N.Y.: The Universal Library, 1964), 114. 31 C.R. Rogers, “Towards a Theory of Creativity,” in E. Vernon (ed.) Creativity (Penguin, 1970), 137-151, 139. 32 Ibid., 140. 33 S. Freud, “Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming.” P.E. Vernon (ed.), Creativity, 126-135, 126. 34 Ibid., 127. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 314 HALIM BARAKAT that the question of the Maghribi heritage is very likely to escape those who inhabit it. Hence his call for detachment from the familiar meaning of heritage.35 Hence also is his resort to memory which represents collective unconsciousness in writing his book Tattooed Memory (al-Dhakira al-Mawshumd) and other imaginative works. Perhaps more relevant to my task here is Khalida Sa’id’s analy- sis of the relationship between Arab modernity and the crisis of iden- tity as reflected in the creative works of a number of innovative Arab writers. She says that a general survey of Arab texts of modernity reveals personalities that are rebellious, tense, torn between con- trasting worlds, disjointed, alienated, intrigued between the sane and the insane, the Godly and the human, the tragic and the comic, the religious and the heretic, the sacred and the falling. . . ,”36 Over a decade earlier, Khalida Sa’id defined creativity in Gibran’s view in the following terms: “Creativity … is what constitutes human adventure in search of the unknown, the astonishing, and the unusual. The significance of the Gibranian legacy is its emergence in the midst of stagnation and the dominance of inherited conceptions which perceived of the ideal model in past accomplishments … so much so that the creative process was rendered a process of imitation, con- formity and memorizing, instead of being an adventurous search and transcendence.”37 In Gibran she saw one of those protesting revolutionaries who challenged the past, the establishments, and traditional views. He represented the “wind that flows against the current”, the “truly visionary” writer whose “contact with universal culture excluded what is mainstream and customary”.38 Almost equally eloquent has been the appraisal of Adonis who stated in his Muqaddima li l-Shi’r al-cArabi that “with Gibran starts in Arabic poetry the vision that aspires to change the world . . . with him . . . starts modern Arabic Poetry . . . Gibran was not only the first reformer in Arabic poetry. In addi- tion, he was the first model for the poet and creative poetry in its modern sense.”39 35 Abdelkabir Khatibi, “Al-Maghrib: Ufuqan li 1-fikr,” Mawaqif, no. 32 (Summer 1978): 14. 36 Khalida Sa’id, “Al-hadatha aw ‘iqdat Gilgamesh,” Mawdqif, nos. 51/52 (Summer/ Fall, 1984): 15. 37 “Nahwa la-Nihaya ma,” Mawaqif, no. 9 (May/June, 1970): 5-6. 38 Ibid.’ 39 Adonis, Muqaddima li l-Shi’r al-‘Arabi (Beirut: Dar al-‘Awda, 1979), 79-82. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 315 In short, creativity does not come easy. It requires among the constituent elements open-mindedness, critical analysis, free reflection and search, tolerance and respect for difference, questioning the obvi- ous, confronting historical challenges, cultivating readiness to explore the unknown, the urge of discovery, imaginative and independent thinking, swimming against the current, overcoming restrictive inhi- bitions, liberation from fears of ambiguity, pluralism, inner direct- edness, future orientation free from the ingrained and inherited frames of references, artistic and moral courage, insistence on the rights of freedom of choice regardless of the anxieties it may bring about, intuition, inspiration, vision, sensitivity, adventurous spirit, openness to new experiences, and social psychological readiness to deal with conflicting facts or views. Creativity comes about freely and natu- rally through the cultivation rather than the suppression of the rest- lessness of the heart and mind. With these definitions of exile and creativity in mind, it becomes clearly obvious why the two notions are perceived in the present study as being intimately interrelated, particularly in the mahjari literature. Exile proved to be an invigorating force and a source of origi- nality in case of the Arab-American writers. In a previous study of mine on Gibran,40 I identified in his works several features of what I called then counter-culture and that can be considered in the pre- sent context as basic elements of creativity. One of the features I detected in his works was transcendence of traditional dualities that permeated Arab dominant culture such as mind/heart, soul/body, evil/goodness, light/darkness, belief/heresy. Another feature was his depiction of society as being in a state of disequilibrium, struggle, conflicts, contradictions notwithstanding the unity of being. A third feature was demystification of relationships of conquest in family and religion. Finally, he clearly rejected many aspects of the dominant or mainstream culture by exploding the traditional structure of lan- guage, and by revolutionizing relations. Here I would like to make a few additional remarks about Arab emegre writers and their writings as emanating from the new real- ity they relived and benefited from in North America during the first three decades of the twentieth century. 40 Halim Barakat, ‘Jibran al-mutatarrif hatta al-Junun: Buzugh al-thaqafa al- mudada,” al-Katib al-‘Arabi, vol. 1, 1 (October/November, 1981): 53-56. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 316 HALIM BARAKAT It seems to me that their creativity stemmed from an unusual mental and emotional ability to combine artistic and rational cul- tures, a sort of making for intermarriage between mind and free imagination. They did see some contradictions between these two inclinations but they made special efforts to resolve them each in his own peculiar way. They clearly rejected those forms of ration- ality that restricts free imagination. Instead, they developed an inquis- itive and imaginative mind. This is true of Gibran as much as of Amfn al-Rihani (migrated to America 1888 at the age of 13), Mikha’il Nucaymah, and Iliya Abu Madi (migrated to Egypt at 11, and then to the USA in 1911 at the age of 21). Arab emegre writers did realize and appreciate the fact that they belonged to an ancient and rich culture, but they also knew they must make a break with the past and reorient themselves and the society towards the future. This is clearly demonstrated most sig- nificantly in Gibran self-portrayal in “The Forerunner” (1920): And when you were a silent word upon life’s quivering lips, I too was there, another silent word. Then life uttered us and we came down the years throbbing with memories of yesterday and with longing for tomorrow, for yesterday was death conquered and tomorrow was birth pursued. Social psychological studies tell us that creative intellectuals tend to be introverts rather than extroverts. Generally speaking, it is hypoth- esized that the more extroverted a person and the more group— centered their daily experiences, the more likely their ideas are to be cliches.”41 Members of the Pen league formed a movement that had a great impact on Arab writings since then, but they worked and thought mainly separately and managed to maintain their indi- vidual activities and distinct interests. The distinctive works of Gibran, al-Rihani, Nu’aymah, and Abu Madi are clear testimony to this effect. What we are talking about here is a special kind of isolation or separateness characterized by inner contemplation rather than self-centeredness. 41 Randall Collins, “A Micro-Macro Theory of Intellectual Creativity: The Case of German Idealist Philosophy,” Sociological Theory, vol. 5, no. 1 (Spring 87): 47-69, 48. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 317 In order not to be misled by the above notion of distinct sepa- rateness, the creative explorations of Arab emegre writers may also be explained in terms of their identification with their native coun- try and preoccupation with its social and political crises. Sociology of literature tells us that there is a relationship between creativity and societal crises and transitional periods. Arabic literature and thought prospered in periods of acute national crises which gener- ated an urgent need for the development of a new consciousness and critical analytical thinking and reflection on means of transcen- dence. One of these periods is early 20th century when mahjari lit- erature asserted itself and contributed towards revolutionizing Arab cultural life. In transitional periods, there emerges an acute aware- ness of the need for replacing the old meanings and values with new ones so as to revitalize society and ensure its cohesiveness. Arab emegre writers benefited from the new milieu in which they found themselves. Being exposed to different cultures must have served as a source of creativity. Under certain conditions, encoun- ters with other civilizations may lead to the emergence of a process of cross fertilization which is likely to provide the necessary condi- tion for creative thinking. The continuing attachments of Amin al- Rlhani, Gibran, and Abu Madi to their native homeland motivated them to seek greater rather than less desire to know and benefit from the civilization of the host country. Clearly, they felt proud about serving as a bridge between cultures, and combated feeling of being uprooted outsiders to both or either of the two cultures. By doing so and by being in this peculiar position, they enriched both cultures. Cross fertilization among civilizations, as in this case, had its enriching rather than stifling effects on Arab-American writers. The migration of the mahjari writers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries liberated them from the stifling fears of persecution. They escaped both political and social-cultural repressions. By distancing themselves from the centers of control, they felt secure to express themselves freely. By centers of control I am referring to both the authoritarian state system that prevailed then and continues to pre- vail now, and the repressive social institutions such as religious and family authorities. By freeing themselves from both political and social systems, they were able to experiment with new forms of writing. In so doing, they managed to achieve their goals and desires not only for themselves but also for their people back home who were equally hungry for freedom. Hence the great lasting impact of mahjari writings Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 318 HALIM BARAKAT on contemporary Arabic literature. It truly represented the first wave of modernity. Finally, I would say that the mahjari writers also freed themselves from preoccupation with the every day local details and concerns as well as from the frustrations and communal loyalties in their native country. Instead, they developed universalistic perspectives and ad- dressed themselves to the Arab world at large. Those who remained behind were exposed not only to state control and social and cul- tural pressures, but also to the temptations of helpless engagements in daily and secondary battles to their own detriment. Gibran and al-Rihani and other mahjari writers showed as well a strong tendency toward liberation from the traditional religious habits calling instead for religious tolerance and secularism. In an elaborate study of the mahjari poetry, Wadl’ Dib42 identified some overlapping or additional distinctive leanings. He detected a special emphasis on the theme of al-hanin (nostalgia or yearning). They yearned for the homeland, for family and mother, for sim- plicity away from modern life (and hence the stress on the theme of return to the ghaba or forest), and for the unknown. Another lean- ing he discovered in their poetry is reflective, poetic and philosoph- ical thinking. They rejected old certainties and raised intriguing questions about all aspects of life experiencing as a result deep anx- ieties of the heart and mind. Abu Madi’s poem “Talaism” (para- doxes or riddles) is most illustrative of such leaning: I came—whence, I know not—but I came I saw before me a road, so I walked, and shall continue to walk, whether I will or not How did I come? How did I see my road? I know not Am I new, or old, in this existence? Am I truly free, or a prisoner in chains? Do I lead myself through my life, or am I led? I wish to know, and yet I know not. And my road: what is my road?43 42 Wadi’ Dib, al-Shi’r al-‘Arabifi al-Mahjar Al-Amriki (Arabic Poetry in the Americas) (Beirut: Dar al-Rlhani, n.d.). 43 Translated by Mounah A. Khouri and Hamid Algar, An Anthology of Modem Arabic Poetry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 35. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. EXPLORATIONS IN EXILE AND CREATIVITY 319 Dib also identified a third sort of a leaning in mahjari poetry which reflected deep desire for liberation from all restrictions on their free- dom including linguistic norms. This is particularly true of Gibran who saw the poet as being first and foremost responsible for lan- guage and its destiny. Hence what I mentioned earlier about his determination to explode the traditional structure of Arabic language and adopting the dictum, “you have your own language, and I have my own.” Similarly, Rose Ghuraib points out that the movement of mahjari literature “revolted against all aspects of the prevailing literary and social conditions in Arab countries, and called for the destruction and the recreation of the new, and laid the foundation for compre- hensive unprecedented deep rooted revolution in the Arab World.”44 It is these characteristics and others which prompted the noted literary critic Muhammad Mandur to raise and address the question as to why the mahjari writers succeeded in doing what other writers could not do. No wonder then that another noted Egyptian writer Muhammed Husayn Haykal would warn his fellow writers, “The reformer and the traditionalist among us should cooperate. Otherwise the victory will remain on the side of the Americanized Syrians, and Islamic culture would be erased.”45 While Arab writers in exile yearned for homeland and its people, traditional writers in the Arab world yearned for the past. What the mahjari writers succeeded in doing is pursuing the path of creativity rather than uniformity. For them creativity, inseparable from agonizing exile, became their way of life sustained with con- stantly renewed hopes for return. Gibran expressed it well in saying: And hence an exile am I, and an exile I shall remain until death lifts me up and bears me even unto my country.46 At a testimonial dinner for Gibran, January 5th, 1929, Philip Hitti commented: “The influence which Gibran exercises in modern Arabic literature can be measured . . . not only by the multitude of people 44 Rose Ghuraib, “Udaba’ al-Mahjar,” in Masadir al-Thaqafa fi Lubnan (Beirut: Maktabat Lubnan, 1969), 101. 40 Cited in lliyya Abu Madl: Sha’ir al-Mahjar al-Akbar (Dar al-Yaqaza al-cArabiyya, 1963), 23. 46 The Two Voices of Kahlil Gibran (Beirut: Creative, 1984), 27, from The Tempests, translated by Andrew Ghareeb. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved. 320 HALIM BARAKAT who have . . . benefited by reading him but also by the big crop of would-be Gibrans, quasi-Gibrans and Gibran imitators who have in recent years, mushroom-like, sprung up and flourished all over the Arabic speaking world. So much so that you can hardly nowadays pick up an Arabic paper printed in Beirut, Cairo, Baghdad, Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires without finding somebody consciously trying to write Gibran-like. . . . through his unmatched mastery of this art, through his pure and rich imagery, through his lofty and noble ide- alism … he has become the father of a new school of thought all of his own.”47 By bearing the symbols of the homeland, mahjan writers gave exile in marriage to creativity as they gave the sea in marriage to the sun. Arab writers produced their best works in the Abbasid period, in Andalusia, and in the mahjar where exile served as a precondition of freedom. In all these instances, there coexisted meaningful encoun- ters of civilizations and liberation from both political and social repressive authorities. Hence the possibilities of innovative explorations and pondering transcendental themes leading to the creation of van- guardist works in each of these periods of Arab literary history. 47 From The Arabs in America, 1492-1977, compiled and edited by Beverlee Turner Mehdi, Dobbs Ferry (New York, Oceana Publications, 1978), 87. Tradition, modernity, and postmodernity in Arabic literature : Essays in honor of professor Issa J. Boullata, edited by K. Abdel-Malek, and W.B. Hallaq, BRILL, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=253466. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 09:12:04. Copyright © 2000. BRILL. All rights reserved.
NO PLAGIARISM PLEASE FOLLOW ALL OF THE BULLET POINTS AND INSTRUCTIONSPart 1: Is uploaded already in the file that says Part 1 of Gibran Project. All you have to for Part 1 is to include it with the re
Cultural Discontinuity in the Works of Kahlil Gibran Author(syf ( X J H Q H 3 D X O 1 D V V D r Source: MELUS, Vol. 7, No. 2, Between Margin and Mainstream (Summer, 1980yf S S 6 Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of Society for the Study of the Multi- Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUSyf Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/467082 Accessed: 15-03-2020 15:21 UTC JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at https://about.jstor.org/terms Oxford University Press, Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUSyf are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to MELUS This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms Cultural Discontinuity in the Works of Kahlil Gibran Eugene Paul Nassar The Prophet has been among us since 1923; by 1976 the volume of counsels had been bought in America alone by more than six million people, read certainly by three times that many. The book has been too highly praised by the True Believers, but it also has been too roundly and imprecisely attacked. Gibran was a man of considerable talents, and a critical sketch of his work and life is in order now, a half century after their publication; it is necessary both to correct these imprecisions and to probe the actual merits and defects in the works.’ Many of those merits and defects are intimately bound to Gibran’s struggle to live within two cultures, the Lebanese-Arab and the American. In Gibran’s case, the struggle led him to adopt a pseudo- wisdom posture which can be called “exultant dualism.” Gibran’s personal psychic suffering in maintaining the posture before his audience is variously demonstrated in some of his best, certainly most poignant, lyrical moments. These lyric passages, which constitute the most authentic Gibran, dramatize the pangs of cultural discontinuity. Gibran’s life and work and the small body of critical comment on that life and work are, however, so little and poorly known, despite the popularity of The Prophet, that I find it necessary, for the purposes of this introductory essay, to outline both. In 1974, through the New York Graphic Society, there appeared a reliable biography of Gibran by Jean and Kahlil Gibran (the writer’s cousin- namesakeyf 7 K L V E L R J U D S K J R H V D O R Q J Z D W R Z D U G W K H Q H F H V V D U G H P V W L – fication of Gibran. The work had already been accomplished in part-bril- liantly, I think-back in 1934 by Mikhail Naimy, a writer of great stature in the Middle East, in an impressionistic critical biography in Arabic. The book did appear in English, translated by the author in 1950 (Philosophical Libraryyf E X W W R R O D W H R U O L W W O H N Q R Z Q L W V H H P V W R F R X Q W H U W K H V W L O O I D V K L R Q D E O e tendencies to either deify or damn Gibran. One will learn from either biography that Kahlil Gibran is best, most realistically, understood as a Lebanese-American emigre writer, not as an oriental wise man.2 Born of Christian parents in the Lebanon in 1883, in 1895 Gibran, his MELUS, Volume 7, No. 2, Summer 1980. 21 This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 22 EUGENE PAUL NASSAR brother and two sisters were brought over to Boston’s immigrant South End by their mother. They left their homeland partly to escape the poverty and restrictions of Ottoman rule, partly to escape from a drunken husband and father. Gibran, then a poor and uneducated boy of thirteen, wandered into the Denison Settlement House on Tyler Street. When a social worker, Jessie Fremont Beale, was apprised of Kahlil’s talent for drawing, she wrote to her friend, Fred Holland Day, asking if he would assist the boy. It was Day, an eminent publisher (Copeland and Dayyf S K R W R J U D S K H U F R O O H F W R U D Q G P D n of taste, who developed the boy’s talents for draftsmanship and his attitudes towards the arts. It was Day who introduced Gibran to Blake, Keats, Shelley, Emerson, Whitman, and various turn-of-the-century British, American, and Continental poets. Day was fascinated by Gibran’s Near- Eastern heritage, which was Christian, not Islamic, and thus partly kin to the Western tradition. Apparently Day encouraged the impressionable young man to be proud of that heritage. As a consequence, Gibran went with some enthusiasm back to Lebanon for three years of advanced secon- dary schooling in a Maronite Christian school in Beirut. Before he left for Lebanon at the age of fifteen, Gibran had already sold some book-cover designs to Scribners, and, by his own account, had been inveigled into a love afair with a patroness of the arts. He left for Lebanon having just met and been impressed by the young poet, Josephine Preston Peabody, who was about to be published by Copeland and Day. In 1902 he returned at the age of nineteen; he then had to face the deaths, in quick succession, of a sister, a brother, and his mother. Terribly bereaved, weighed down by a melancholy which later became the ground base of all his work, the young Gibran found spiritual and cultural companionship with Miss Peabody. The immigrant boy of nineteen knew what he wanted: to be a “pure artist” in the sense of the term as understood by Day and Peabody. But he had no money, was being supported by his sister, and his command of English was more comic than effective. An exhibition of his drawings was arranged by Fred Day in Day’s own studio in 1904, and to that exhibition came a friend of Miss Peabody’s: Mary Haskell, headmistress of Miss Haskell’s School for Girls. Haskell was immediately taken by the drawings; she made Gibran’s acquaintance, and by 1908 was so convinced of his “genius” that she financed a year’s schooling in art for him in Paris. By 1908, the twenty-five-year-old Gibran had published two books of short fiction in Arabic as well as dozens of short poetic essays in Arab- American newspapers; in literary circles in both the Near East and in the New York-Boston Lebanese-American community he was well-known as one of the vanguard of artists who were infusing Western attitudes and modes into Arabic literature. However, because of his lack of formal training he thought himself stalemated as a painter. With the Haskell offer of the Paris This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms KAHLIL GIBRAN 23 year began the spiritual and patronage relationship that was to last up to and even past Gibran’s death in 1931. Mary Haskell kept voluminous journals (now at the library of the University of North Carolinayf G X U L Q J D O O R I W K H V e years; these journals are a mine of information about Gibran, and are the primary base for the biography by Jean and Kahlil Gibran. From these journals emerge two very decent people: Mary, deeply committed to things of the spirit-art, ethics, humanitarianism-and afraid of sexuality; Gibran, deeply grateful, eager to please, puzzled and uncertain of his role with Mary. Was he to worship, or teach, or love, or marry this admirable woman? What did she want; what was the decent thing to do? One learns much about Gibran through Mary’s eyes; yet one must also be cautious about Mary’s Gibran. It seems clear from Gibran’s writings, his letters, and in other accounts of the man, that there is much in Gibran, the Lebanese rather than the American Gibran, that did not find expression in the relationship with Mary Haskell. Gibran proposed to Mary, and was rejected. Either because of this rejection or because he needed wider artistic horizons (or perhaps for both reasonsyf L Q * L E U D Q O H I W % R V W R Q D Q G D F T X L U H G D V W X G L R D S D U W P H Q W R n West Tenth Street in New York City, where he remained for the rest of his life. The early New York years were overcast for Gibran by the terrible fate of Lebanon during the Great War (fully one-third of the population of the Mountain starvedyf + L V F K U R Q L F P H O D Q F K R O L D S H U Y D G H V W K H S U R V H S R H P V L n Arabic of this period. But he was finding success in America, where he most wanted it; here, both his symbolic drawings and his life drawings of famous artists and other notables, were popular. He then began to experiment with writing in English, under the tutelage of Mary Haskell. His early parables, which stemmed far more from Old and New Testament sources than from anything in Islamic literature, gained much critical attention, especially through the pages of the prestigious Seven Arts Magazine. The 1918 publication in English of The Madman, a collection of Gibran’s parables, and the publication of The Procession in Arabic in 1919 mark a watershed for Gibran. Though his reputation in the Arabic world grew in the Twenties as a result of further collections of his earlier prose-poems in Arabic, Gibran now turned all of his literary energies and aspirations to the slim books of poems, parables, and aphorisms in English, and he turned his draftsman abilities to the illus- tration of these books. The continuity of tone that runs throughout the works of Gibran is that of lonely alienation, of a yearning for connections. Beneath all his prophetic masks, Gibran’s lyric cry for connection reveals his most authentic voice. Hungering for real unity, Gibran is ever attempting to lift himself up by his own bootstraps to deliver truths or at least prolegomena to the multitudes in This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 24 EUGENE PAUL NASSAR old societies or new on social and cosmic questions. But ever behind these pronunciamentos is the Gibran of unsureness, of profound melancholy, of tragic vision. Gibran is at home neither in the old culture nor in the new, and an unresolved dualism vitiates much of the work when, as so often occurs, it pretends to resolution. The reader of the translations from the Arabic and of the English works of Gibran will find in each a confusing series of self-projections and investi- tures. Gibran was of the mold of William Blake: both angry social reformer of old cultural contexts and the prophet of an expanding cosmic consciousness beyond any need of a given cultural context. Most often and fundamentally, however, he emerges as a lonely poet finding solace only in the poetic consciousness or imagination. He wants desperately to trumpet a Human- ism with absolutist foundations, but at the center of his vision (a center he keeps trying to shroud in mistyf K H L V D W U D J L F G X D O L V W Z K R V H H [ X O W D W L R Q L V I L [ H d only in the idea of an ever-upwards-striving human spirit: We are the sons of Sorrow; we are the poets And the prophets and the musicians. We weave Raiment for the goddess from the threads of our hearts … “We And You,” Secrets of the Heart (p. 41yf And Wisdom opened her lips and spoke: “You, Man, would see the world with the eyes of God, and would grasp the secrets of the hereafter by means of human thought. Such is the fruit of ignorance …. “The many books and strange figures and the lovely thoughts around you are ghosts of the spirits that have been before you. The words your lips utter are the links in the chain that binds you and your fellow men. “A Visit From Wisdom,” A Second Treasury (p. 37yf My departure was like Adam’s exodus from Paradise, but the Eve of my heart was not with me to make the whole world an Eden. That night, in which I had been born again, I felt that I saw death’s face for the first time. Thus the sun enlivens and kills the fields with its heat. Broken Wings (p. 47yf Though the child was dead, the sounds of the drinking cups increased in the hall …. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms KAHLIL GIBRAN 25 He was born at dawn and died at sunrise …. A lily that has just blossomed from the bud of life and is mashed under the feet of death. A dear guest whose appearance illuminated Selma’s heart and whose departure killed her soul. This is the life of men, the life of nations, the life of suns, moons and stars. Broken Wings (pp. 118-19yf These passages are, I think, “touchstones” for the central drama of Gibran’s soul, a dualism that longs for unity, a belief only in the “divinity” of man’s ability to create and to love, and a struggle to “make do” with this humanism. The humanism is much like both the humanism of Gibran’s mentor, William Blake, and the early humanism of Percy Shelley. The young poet aspires to the energy of Blake, the social ardency of the early Shelley, and the cosmic euphoria of the Whitman of the Song of Myself; what Gibran really achieves, however, are dramatizations of the inextricable dualisms in Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, the tragic tone of Shelley’s The Triumph of Life, the solitary laments of Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle” or “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” Gibran always struggles to extricate himself from a melancholic position; at times he attempts this with a shell of toughness and bitterness which he, according to Naimy, fashioned after Nietzsche; often he attempts it through a brand of transcendentalism that seems a fusion of his own intuitions with his knowledge of Emerson, Naimy, and others. Neither role convinces as much as does the lyric voice of the poet who is often ashamed of both roles. The bitter Yusif El Fakhri, in the philosophic dialogue, “The Tempest,” has withdrawn from civilization, and he tells the questioning poet: “No, my brother, I did not seek solitude for religious purposes, but solely to avoid the people and their laws, their teachings and their traditions, their ideas and their clamour and their wailing …. What I really know to be true is the crying of my inner self. I am here living, and in the depths of my existence there is a thirst and hunger, and I find joy in partaking of the bread and wine of Life from the vases which I make and fashion by my own hands. Secrets of the Heart (pp. 15, 20yf But though Fakhri sought solitude only to avoid civilization, he has had “religious” experiences: This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 26 EUGENE PAUL NASSAR “And among all vanities of life, there is only one thing that the spirit loves and craves. One thing dazzling and alone …. It is an awakening in the spirit; it is an awakening in the inner depths of the heart; it is an overwhelming and magnificent power that descends suddenly upon man’s conscience and opens his eyes, whereupon he sees Life amid a dizzying shower of brilliant music, sur- rounded by a circle of great light, with man standing as a pillar of beauty between the earth and the firmament … ” Secrets of the Heart (p. 22yf Such momentary psychic experience is not to be denied; Gibran’s poetry is often of such moments. The question is whether in Gibran’s mind such moments of “mysticism” or “cosmic consciousness” are in fact intuitive glimpses into a higher reality for an immortal soul, or only esthetic apprehensions of the evolutionary potential in man’s creative imagination. And the truth of the matter, demonstrably so, is that Gibran was tortured by the question, wanting to assert the one to his audience, while believing the other. The poet’s dilemma is indicated in any number of pieces in both the Arabic and English writings. The Procession consists of an internal debate between Age’s desire to make sense of things and Youth’s disdain for all formulation: The truth of the flute will e’er remain, While crimes and men are but disdain …. Singing is love and hope and desire, The moaning flute is the light and fire …. Give me the flute and let me sing; Forget what we said about everything. Talk is but dust, speckling the Ether and losing itself in the vast Firmament …. Why do you not renounce the Future and forget the past? Secrets of the Heart ((pp. 150, 155, 157, 158yf Fakhri’s bitterness and “Youth’s” bitterness and also their estheticism or mysticism are reflected again in another internal debate, The Earth Gods, a poem in English finished and published just before Gibran’s death in 1931, but sketched out in the period 1912-18, which seems to have been the time of greatest ferment, turmoil, and creativity for Gibran. Indeed, most of The This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms KAHLIL GIBRAN 27 Prophet was also written in 1918, though not published till 1923. The reason Gibran often gave for delay of The Prophet was that he wanted to make the book as perfect as he could. A profound unsureness about whether he was in fact prophet or “false alarm” (as he once confessed he felt to Mikhail Naimyyf S U R S K H W L F I R U H U X Q Q H U R U P H U H E L W W H U Z D Q G H U H U K R Q H R r poison for his readers, is more likely the reason. There is a very moving and revealing Arabic poem of nightmare, confes- sion, and self-analysis called “Between Night and Morning” in The Tempests volume of 1920. This poem consists of two related nightmares. The first is of the poet’s harvesting fruit trees of his own planting. After the harvest is given away to the people (his Arabic readers, specifically the Christian- Lebaneseyf W K H S R H W G L V F R Y H U V K L V I U X L W L V D V E L W W H U D V J D O O : Woe to me, for I have placed a Curse in the mouths of the people, and an Ailment in their bodies. Secrets of the Heart (p. 60yf Another tree is planted “in a field afar from the path of Time,” watered with “blood and tears,” but not one of the people will now taste of this sweet fruit of sadness, and the poet withdraws to his solitude. The second nightmare is of a boat of the poet’s own building, “empty … except of rainbow colors”: and I said to Myself, “I shall return with the empty Boat of my thoughts to the harbour of the Isle of my birth.”. .. And on the masts and On the rudder I drew strange figures that Compelled the attention and dazzled the Eye. And as I ended my task, the boat of My thoughts seemed as a prophetic vision Sailing between the two infinities, the Sea and the sky. (pp. 61-62yf And the people are dazzled: Such welcome was mine because my boat was beautifully decorated, and none Entered and saw the interior of the Boat of my thoughts, nor asked what I had brought from beyond the seas. Nor Could they observe that I had brought my boat back empty …. (p. 62yf This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 28 EUGENE PAUL NASSAR The guilty poet then sails the seas to fill his boat with worthy cargo, but his people will not welcome him back, though the boat is full. And he with- draws, unable to speak or sing, even as dawn approaches. Both nightmares are obvious allegories of Gibran’s guilt feeling with regard to his art and his audience. Gibran later, at the full tide of success of The Prophet, confided to Mary Haskell his plans for sequels, in which Almustafa, back at the isle of his birth, is first rejected by his disciples, and is then stoned to death by “his people” in a marketplace. The “Seven Selves” parable is likewise deeply personal and poignant, as are others in The Madman, The Forerunner, and The Wanderer: “Ah! could I but be like one of you, a self with a determined lot! But I have none, I am the do-nothing self, the one who sits in the dumb, empty nowhere and nowhen, while you are busy re-creating life . the seventh self remained watching and gazing at nothingness, which is behind all things. “The Seven Selves,” The Madman (p. 23yf The “forerunner” preaches a new gospel of a new John the Baptist to his people, but as he closes, he exclaims: “Like moths that seek destruction in the flame you gather daily in my garden: and with faces uplifted and eyes enchanted you watch me tear the fabric of your days. And in whispers you say the one to the other, ‘He sees with the light of God. He speaks like the prophets of old . “Aye, in truth, I know your ways, but only as an eagle knows the ways of his fledglings. And I fain would disclose my secret. Yet in my need for your nearness I feign remoteness, and in feat of the ebbtide of your love I guard the floodgates of my love.” After saying these things the Forerunner covered his face with his hands and wept bitterly. The Forerunner (pp. 63-64yf And then later, after the coming of the “prophet,” and also the commentary on both the historical Jesus and the Jesus within (Jesus, Son of Man, 1928yf , Gibran projects himself as the “wanderer”: This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms KAHLIL GIBRAN 29 I met him at the crossroads, a man with but a cloak and a staff, and a veil of pain upon his face …. …. what I now record was born out of the bitterness of his days though he himself was kindly, and these tales are of the dust and patience of his road. The Wanderer (p. 3yf It is within this melancholy context that the record of Gibran’s euphoric moments, and the quasi-theology around which he fashions those moments, must be read. The Prophet is an extended flight on the wings of a dubious idea that Gibran derived from Blake, Whitman, and Nietzsche, that the evolving godliness in man is god enough for exultant worship: My God, my aim and my fulfillment; I am thy yesterday and thou art my tomorrow. I am thy root in the earth and thou art my flower in the sky. The Madman (p. 10yf You are your own forerunner, and the towers you have builded are but the foundation of your giant-self. And that self too shall be a foundation …. O my faith, my untamed knowledge, how shall I fly to your height and see with you man’s larger self pencilled upon the sky? The Forerunner (pp. 7, 39yf The “Greater Self,” “Larger Self,” “Vast Man” (cf. Blake’s “Eternal Great Humanity Divine,”yf Z L W K L Q X V L V W K H * R G R I 7 K H 3 U R S K H W D Q G W R E H V X U H R f Jesus, Son of Manyf : But your god-self dwells not alone in your being. Much in you is still man, and much in you is not yet man …. Like a procession you walk together towards your god-self. You are the way and the wayfarers …. In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: and that longing is in all of you …. For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether? … Our God, who art our winged self, it is thy will in us that willeth. The Prophet (pp. 39, 40, 66, 67, 68yf This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 30 EUGENE PAUL NASSAR All of which may seem acceptable doctrine in some theological (Emersonianyf circles. However, to other (particularly Lebanese-Christianyf F L U F O H V L W L s heretical because the speaker, Gibran, wants 1yf W R G R Z L W K R X W D * R G K H D d existing independently of man while pretending to the absolute authority of such, and 2yf W R G R Z L W K R X W D Q S U R P L V H R I H J R L P P R U W D O L W Z K L O H S U H W H Q G L Q g sufficient compensation in the immortality of the Life Force, that is, in the succeeding generations of man evolving an ever wider and wider con- sciousness. Whitman’s “Myself” is much the same as Gibran’s “Larger Self.” In fact, The Prophet is deeply influenced by the Song of Myself. Both works are devious enough to obscure the problem of evil in the euphoric, cosmic moment: What is called good is perfect, and what is called sin is just as perfect. Whitman, “To Think of Time” For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst? The Prophet (p. 64yf Both poets are honest enough to dramatize the endless pain in the contin- gent reality: The malformed limbs are tied to the anatomist’s table, What is removed drops horribly into a pail …. Song of Myself (sec. 15yf For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you …. Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven. The Prophet (pp. 11, 23yf In both the Song of Myself and The Prophet we have, in fact, dualism pretending to unity. The following is perhaps Gibran’s best expression of his true position: Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape. These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling. And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light. And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom. The Prophet (p. 49yf This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms KAHLIL GIBRAN 31 This is a vision of a dualistic spiral; the wider the consciousness is expanded, the greater the awareness of both joy and pain, good and evil. Gibran’s Arabic prose poem, “The Ambitious Violet,” is of a violet that would be a rose for a day so as to have a moment in the sun, a rose that is willing to then be dashed by the tempest. Or, as Gibran’s “Jesus” says it, “The lilies and the brier live but a day, yet that day is eternity spent in freedom” (p. 54yf 2 Q e need not de-emphasize the importance of ecstatic psychic or mystic moments. A moment in eternity is a different blessing than to be eternally in eternity. Thus, the bluff one often senses in both Gibran and Whitman. What is moving in both poets is their otherwhere tortured consciousness of this bravado. It is not, however, a bravado likely to bluff the Christian-Lebanese peasant in general, or the Christian-Lebanese peasant in Gibran. Gibran’s later work, The Earth Gods, is in many ways a more satisfying work than The Prophet. In this book, the “second god” strikes the true tonality of the artist-as-only-savior central to Gibran: In our eyes is the vision that turns man’s soul to flame, And leads him to exalted loneliness and rebelli- ous prophecy, And on to crucifixion. Man is born to bondage, And in bondage is his honor and his reward …. For deaf is the ear of the infinite, And heedless is the sky. We are the beyond and we are the Most High, And between us and boundless eternity Is naught save our unshaped passion And the motive thereof. The Earth Gods (pp. 16, 25yf The first god speaks only of weariness, bitterness, and a death-wish; the third god speaks of merely human dancers and mere human love, ever- fresh. All three gods represent attitudes of the poet in a complex inner debate with no possible resolution save that all three are capable of being caught momentarily by the beauty of the young lovers and by their dance in the ancient “sacred grove”: Yea, what of this love of man and woman? See how the east wind dances with her dancing feet, And the west wind rises singing with his song. Behold our sacred purpose now enthroned, In the yielding of a spirit that sings to a body that dances. The Earth Gods (“second god,” p. 32yf This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 32 EUGENE PAUL NASSAR The third god would build some transcendental truths upon this love, but the second god protests: Your hands have spun man’s soul From living air and fire, Yet now you would break the thread, And lend your versed fingers to an idle eternity …. Oh, lofty dreaming brother, Return to us from time’s dim borderland! Unlace your feet from no-where and no-when, And dwell with us in this security. (pp. 21, 35yf For the gods are “earth-bound.” The poem ends with the third god finally agreeing with his brother: Better it is for us, and wiser, To seek a shadowed nook and sleep in our earth divinity, And let love, human and frail, command the coming day. (p. 41yf The voice of the lyric Gibran here persuades the prophetic Gibran; the poet persuades the transcendental philosopher. The passage from The Earth Gods beginning “Oh, lofty dreaming brother” is a conscious variation on a motif in The Prophet: And others among you called unto me, not in words, and they said, “Stranger, stranger, lover of unreachable heights, why dwell you among the summits where eagles build their nests? Why seek you the unattainable? What storms would you trap in your net, And what vaporous birds do you hunt in the sky? Come and be one of us. Descend and appease your hunger with our bread and quench your thirst with our wine.” (p. 90yf Gibran’s answer to the people, in the grandiose manner of The Prophet, is that “I hunted only your larger selves” (p. 91yf , W L V L Q 7 K H : D Q G H U H U O D W H U W K D W W K e motif receives its most personal variation: Two men were walking in the valley, and one man pointed with his finger toward the moun- tain side, and said, “See you that hermitage? There lives a man who has long divorced the world. He seeks but after God, and naught else upon this earth.” This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms KAHLIL GIBRAN 33 And the other man said, “He shall not find God until he leaves his hermitage, and the aloneness of his hermitage, and returns to our world, to share our joy and pain, to dance with our dancers at the wedding feast, and to weep with those who weep around the coffins of our dead.” And the other man was convinced in his heart, though in spite of his conviction he answered, “I agree with all that you say, yet I believe the hermit is a good man. And may it not well be that one good man by his absence does better than the seeming goodness of these many men?” (p. 87yf More human? Yes. But Gibran is always partly thus. Gibran the Christian- Lebanese peasant son worships the idea of the Mother in Broken Wings (Bantam ed. pp. 82-83yf * L E U D Q W K H S K L O R V R S K H U R I W K H / D U J H U 6 H O I W H O O s parents to stay out of their children’s way in The Prophet (pp. 17-18yf . Gibran was born into an ancient and rich hill-culture in the Lebanese Mountain. He was separated from this culture, but he also separated himself from it. That culture as I know it from my immigrant parents and their peers is one that humanizes nature, the universe, and God in terms of the Lebanese family, its garden, and its mountain village. The Father ideally rules the family, but only in the context of the worship of the Mother. Grandparents have the double respect of parents and of age. The family and the clan stand together in the village; one village tells tales about another, one region tells tales about another. Dogs, vegetables, fruit trees, and all natural phenomena are seen in terms of brothers, sisters, cousins. God is seen now as the village patriarch, now as the neighborhood visitor, even at times as the village jokester; He appreciates laughter, the well-told tale, the well-made arak. A person weeds the garden and prunes the vine not out of hated obligation, but out of love of the lettuce leaf and the grape. The apricot thirsts for the water of the spring; the villager brings water to the garden plot, and the villager’s thirst is quenched by both the apricot and the spring. So too are the relationships between brothers, cousins, neighbors, and strangers. This idyllic vision, attained, of course, only fitfully, had sufficient power to cause the ambiguous love-hate, accusatory-guilty relationship of Gibran with the Old Country and its-(hisyf S H R S O H : And he looked upon his mariners and said: “And what have I brought them? A hunter was I, in a distant land. With aim and might I have spent the golden arrows they gave me, but I have brought down no game. … This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 34 EUGENE PAUL NASSAR And he ceased from speaking and there fell a deep gloom upon the nine, and their heart was turned away from him, for they understood not his words. And behold, the three men who were mariners longed for the sea; and they who had served in the Temple yearned for the consolation of her sanctuary; and they who had been his playfellows desired the market-place. They all were deaf to his words …. And behold, they turned and went every man to his own place, so that Almustafa, the chosen and the beloved, was left alone. The Garden of The Prophet (pp. 5, 49-50yf These passages, as usual, allow for the accusing of the people while in large measure dramatizing the self-accusation of the poet. In one of the saddest parables in The Wanderer, ironically and consciously given the title “Tears and Laughter” (also the title of Gibran’s first volume of Arabic prose poemsyf D F U R F R G L O H D Q G D K H Q D S U R W H V W W K D W W K H S H R S O H G R Q R W F D U H Z K H Q W K e crocodile really cries or the hyena really laughs. The fundamental tone of Gibran then is lyric, tragic, alienated, punctuated by a series of struggles for transcendence and/or involvement. (It is worth noting that Gibran’s art work too, his drawings, oils, washes, whatever merit they have standing alone before the artist’s eye, are deeply illustrative of his fundamental tonality-pain and alienation and longing pervading them almost to the exclusion of any sense of joy.yf * L E U D Q L V K D U G O D % O D N H R r Whitman, not having their linguistic and imagistic vitality (though his style-obviously dependent on the King James Bible-is of considerable emotive and evocative poweryf % X W W K H L U W U D Q V F H Q G H Q W D O W K L Q N L Q J L V P X F h alike, often embracing the “exultant dualism” which is a pretense of an achieved unity covering a morass of conflicts. All three poets labor under the burden of their transcendent self-projections of unitary truths and are wholly convincing only when wholly absorbed in dramatizations of their dualistic experiences. To put Gibran in this company, at least in terms of similarity of theme and substance, is both to save him from his cultists and to place him, rightly, far more within the Western than an Eastern poetic tradition. With regard to Gibran’s stature with “his people,”-the Arabic world in general perhaps, but more specifically the Christian-Lebanese and Lebanese- American worlds–there is a great deal of pride in the native son, and an appreciation of his bringing forms and themes of Western Romanticism into Arabic literature. There are also negative reactions. There is muct of the This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms KAHLIL GIBRAN 35 predictable arch-conservatism, against which Gibran wrote and thrived. But there is also a thoughtful conservatism (viz., the letters to Gibran of the writer May Ziadehyf Z K L F K V H Q V H G W K D W E H Q H D W K W K H E U D Y D G R R I W K H S U R S K H W L c robes, Gibran really had no adequate replacement for the richness of the cultural heritage, both peasant and intellectual, of the Christian East. It appears that the bread and wine in the Lebanon hill village were, perhaps, a better bet for a life than were the winds of solitude at the studio apart- ment on West Tenth Street in Manhattan. Gibran himself wrote with pain of this “exile”: No punishment more severe has befallen a child of God; no exile so bitter …. We may be wealthier than the villagers in gold, but they are infinitely richer in fullness of true existence …. Oh, Giver of Graces, hidden from me behind these edifices of the throngs which are naught but idols and images …. hear the anguished cries of my imprisoned soul! Hear the agonies of my bursting heart! Have mercy and return Your straying child to the mountainside, which is Thy edifice! “Contemplations in Sadness,” Secrets of the Heart (pp. 144-45yf The involutions of Gibran, which allowed him to put on so many masks and speak through so many personae, create a human drama which is deeply moving, despite its having been often played: the drama of a talented emigre at home neither in the Old Country or the New. Utica College of Syracuse University Notes 1. Works originally in Arabic are: Nymphs of the Valley (1906yf 6 S L U L W V 5 H E H O O L R X V f; Broken Wings (1912yf 7 H D U V D Q G / D X J K W H U f; The Procession (1919yf 7 K H 7 H P S H V W V f; Best Things (1923yf 6 S L U L W X D O 6 D L Q J V f; The Spikes of Grain (1929yf . Works originally in English are: The Madman (1918yf 7 K H ) R U H U X Q Q H U f; The Prophet (1923yf 6 D Q G D Q G ) R D P f; Jesus, the Son of Man (1928yf 7 K H ( D U W K * R G V f; The Wanderer (1932yf 7 K H * D U G H Q R I W K H 3 U R S K H W f, a posthumous compilation. Most of the Arabic writings of Gibran have been collected in A Treasury and A Second Treasury of Kahlil Gibran (Citadel Press 1951, 1962yf W U D Q V O D W H G E $ Q W K R Q 5 ) H U U L V 7 K e translations make readable English prose and I think a comparison of these with those of others will bring the reader back to Ferris’s work. A good selection from the pieces in the two volumes is the Signet paperback, Secrets of the Heart, which together with the Bantam paperback of the novella, Broken Wings, is perhaps a sufficient sampling of Gibran’s Arabic writings for the English reader. What these volumes lack for the critical reader is a chronological arrangement or even a dating of the various pieces. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 36 EUGENE PAUL NASSAR 2. The biography by Jean and Kahlil Gibran, cited above, is very helpful for Gibran’s Boston years, less so for the New York City years. The book in general has a sense of incompleteness with respect to the Arabic side of Gibran’s life. It is most comfortable when working with documents like letters and diaries: “Previous allusions to relation- ships and incidents that have not been corroborated by primary source material have remained unmentioned.” (p.4yf 7 K L V S U R F H G X U H P L J K W E H Z H O O L Q W K H E L R J U D S K R I D P D n long dead, but the chaste avoidance of the very much alive Lebanese and Syrians and others in Boston and New York City that knew Gibran or knew of him thins the biography. Mikhail Naimy’s critical biography, cited above, for all of its impressionism and imprecisions gives the reader a more three-dimensional Gibran, one that seems more like the author of the works. There is a great deal more energy in the analyses of the works and actually a great deal more empathy for them than in the later biography. There is to be sure a great deal of Naimy in Naimy’s book; he is using Gibran as an example of the backsliding initiate into the mysteries in which he is full professor, but the work at the same time has excitement, ironic self-awareness, and, I think, fundamental truthfulness to Gibran that gives it stature both as literary criticism and as creative achievement. Khalil Hawi’s Kahlil Gibran: His Background, Character, and Works (Am. Univ. of Beirut, 1963yf L V D Y H U V R E H U D Q G L Q W H O O L J H Q W V W X G D Q G R Q H W K D W L V F U L W L F D O E R W K R I 1 D L P s biography and Gibran’s thought. But he is also respectful of Naimy’s critical ability and of Gibran’s contributions to Arabic literature. A well-known poet and scholar in the Arab world, Hawi was without benefit of the Haskell papers which would have gone some way towards clearing his objections to Naimy. Many of Hawi’s objections to Naimy’s book are rebutted in Nadeem Naimy’s Mikhail Naimy: An Introduction (Am. Univ. of Beirut, 1967yf D Q G L Q 1 D L P V R Z Q 6 D E X Q W U D Q V O 6 H Y H Q W % H L U X W f. The argument over Naimy’s biography is not trivial (indeed it is still current in the Arab worldyf E H F D X V H W K H I O D Z V 1 D L P D P D Q Z K R V H H P V W R O R Y H D Q G X Q G H U V W D Q d Gibran-finds in Gibran’s character, weaknesses for women, money, fame, alcohol, in fact make Gibran more warmly human and the works more poignant. It seems clear from Gibran’s letters (see The Second Treasuryyf W K D W 1 D L P Z D V L Q G H H G * L E U D Q V F O R V H V t comrade, and so I see no reason to assume that the “imaginary conversations” in Naimy’s biography are not reconstructions of confidences given by Gibran over the years to Naimy. Barbara Young did Gibran no favor with her fulsome This Man From Lebanon (Knopf, 1945yf D V V X F K F X O W P D W H U L D O S U R Y R N H V X Q G H U V W D Q G D E O H [ W U H P H U H D F W L R Q V O L N H W K D W R f Stefan Kanfer in the New York Times Magazine (June 25, 1972yf . D Q I H U V H Q V L W L Y H W R P D Q y of the inadequacies of The Prophet, takes then the liberties of wide inaccuracies about Gibran’s life, gratuitous witticisms, and simple obliviousness to the lyric Gibran behind the prophetic mask. Suhail Hanna’s “Gibran and Whitman: Their Literary Dialogue” (Literature East and West, 7:174-98yf L V D I L Q H H V V D R Q W K H : K L W P D Q D Q G 1 H Z ( Q J O D Q d Transcendentalism influence on Gibran. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 15:21:59 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms
NO PLAGIARISM PLEASE FOLLOW ALL OF THE BULLET POINTS AND INSTRUCTIONSPart 1: Is uploaded already in the file that says Part 1 of Gibran Project. All you have to for Part 1 is to include it with the re
The Mind and Thought of Khalil Gibran Author(syf 1 1 D L P y Source: Journal of Arabic Literature, Vol. 5 (1974yf S S 1 Published by: Brill Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/4182921 Accessed: 15-03-2020 14:39 UTC JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at https://about.jstor.org/terms Brill is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of Arabic Literature This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms Journal of Arabic Literature, V. THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN* In speaking about work to the people of Orphalese, Gibran’s Prophet, Al-mustafa, says, “Work is love made visible.”‘ It is only fair to Gibran, therefore, that we should treat his literary works, eight in Arabic and an equal number in English, as various manifes- tations of this love. Had Gibran been primarily a thinker, a student addressing himself to the study of his philosophy would probably have been able to establish a Gibranian system of thought and a well- defined theory of love. But Gibran was primarily a poet and a mystic in whom thought, as in every good poet and good mystic, is a state of being rather than a state of mind. A student of Gibran’s philosophy, therefore, finds himself more concerned not with his ideas but with his disposition; not with his theory of love but with Gibran the lover. That Gibran had started his literary career as a Lebanese emigrant in twentieth-century America, passionately yearning for his homeland, may, perhaps give a basic clue to his disposition and intellectual framework. To be an emigrant is to be an alien. But to be an emigrant mystical poet is to be thrice alienated. To geographical alienation is added estrangement from both conventional human society at large, and also the whole world of spatio-temporal existence. Therefore such a poet is gripped by a triple longing: a longing for the country of his birth, for a utopian human society of the imagination in which he can feel at home, and for a higher world of metaphysical truth. This triple longing provided Gibran with the basis for his artistic creati- vity. Its development from one stage of his work to another is only a variation in emphasis and not in kind; three strings of his harp are always to be detected and towards the end of his life they achieve * A/-Majm,u’ah al-Kdmilah li Mu’allafdt Gibrdn Khalil Gibrdn, Beirut 1949-50 Sand and Foam, New York 1926 The Prophet, New York 1923 The Forerunner, New York 1920 Jesus the Son of Man, New York 1928 The Earth Gods, New York 1931 1 The Prophet, P. 33. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 56 THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN almost perfect harmony in his master-piece, The Prophet, where the home country of the prophet Almustafa, the utopian state of human existence and the metaphysical world of higher truth become one and the same. To The Prophet as well as to the rest of Gibran’s works, Music can be considered as a prelude. Published eleven years after Gibran’s emi- gration to Boston as a youth of eleven, this essay of about thirteen pages marks the author’s debut into the world of letters. Though entitled Music, this booklet is more of a schoolboy’s prosaic ode to music than an objective dissertation on it. As such, it tells us more about Gibran, the emotional boy, than about his subject. The Gibran it reveals is a flowery sentimentalist who, saturated with a vague nostalgic sadness, sees in music a floating sister-spirit, an ethereal embodiment of all that a nostalgic heart is not and yet yearns to be. Representative of the whole essay, both in style and in spirit, is the following quotation, in which he addresses music: “Oh you, wine of the heart that uplifts its drinker to the heights of the world of imagination;-you ethereal waves bearing the soul’s phantoms; you sea of sensibility and tenderness; to your waves we lend our soul, and to your uttermost depths we trust our hearts. Carry those hearts away beyond the world of matter and show us what is hidden deep in the world of the unknown.”‘ Between Music of 1905 and The Prophet of 1923, Gibran’s writings as well as his thought seem to have passed through two stages: the youthful period of his early Arabic works, Nymphs of the Valley, Spirits Rebellious, Broken Wings and A Tear and a Smile, published between 1907 and 1914, and the relatively more mature stage of Processions, The Tempests, The Madman, his first work in English, and The Forerunner, his second, all leading up to The Prophet. It is only natural that in his youthful stage Gibran’s longing in Chinatown, Boston, where he first settled, for Lebanon, the country of the first impressionable years of his life, should dominate the two other strings in his harp. Nymphs of the Valley is a collection of three short stories; Spirits Rebellious consists of another four, while Broken Wings can easily pass for a long short story. Overlooking names and dates, the three books can safely be considered as one volume of eight collected short stories that are similar in both style and conception, even to the point of redundancy; in all of them Lebanon, as the unique 1 See “al-MRsiqa” in al-Majmtrlah al-Kamilab (The Complete Worksyf Y R O S . This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN 57 land of mystic natural beauty, provides the setting. The different heroes, though their names and situations vary from story to story, are in essence one and the same. They are unmistakably Khalil Gibran the youth himself, who at times does not even bother to conceal his identity, speaking in the first person singular in Broken Wings and as Khalil in “Khalil the Heretic” of Spirits Rebellious. This first-person hero is typically to be found challenging pretenders to the possession of the body and soul of his beloved Lebanon. These pretenders in the nineteenth and early twentieth century are, in Gibran’s reckoning, the feudal lords of Lebanese aristocracy and the church order. The stories are therefore almost invariably woven in such a way as to bring Gibran the hero, or a Gibran-modelled hero, into direct conflict with representatives of one or another of those groups. In Broken Wings, Gibran the youth and Salma Karameh fall in love. But the local archbishop frustrates their love by forcibly marrying Salma to his nephew. Thus Gibran finds the opportunity, whilst singing his love of the virgin beauty of Lebanon, to pour out his anger on the church and its hierarchy. In Spirits Rebellious, Khalil the heretic is expelled from a monastery in Mount Lebanon into a raging winter blizzard, because he was too Christian to be tolerated by the abbot and his fellow monks. Rescued at the last moment by a widow and her beautiful daughter in a Lebanese hamlet and secretly given refuge in their cottage, he soon makes the mother an admirer of his ideals of a primitive anticlerical Christianity and the daughter a disciple and a devoted lover. When he is discovered and captured by the local feudal lord and brought to trial before him as a heretic and an outlaw, he stands among the multitudes of humble Lebanese villagers and tenants and speaks like a Christ at his second coming. Won over by his defence, which he turns into an offensive against the allied despotism of the church and the feudal system, the simple and poverty-stricken villagers rally round him. As a consequence the local lord commits suicide, the priest takes to flight, Khalil marries the daughter of his rescuer, and the whole village lives ever afterwards in a blissful state of natural piety, amity and justice. “John the Madman” in Nymphs of the Valle is almost a duplicate of Khalil the heretic. Detained with his calves by the abbot and monks of a monastery simply because the calves have intruded on its property, John, the poor calf-keeper, accuses his persecutors and all other men of the church of being the enemies of Christ, the modern pharisees This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 58 THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN prospering on the poverty, misery and goodness of the very people like himself in whom Christ abides. “Come forth again, o living Christ,” he calls, “and chase these religion-merchants out of your temples. For they have turned those temples into dungeons where the snakes of their cunning and villainy lie coiled.” 1 Because he was inspired with sincere truth under a domineering social order uni- formly antagonistic to sincerity and truth, John was dismissed as a madman. It is easy to label Gibran in this early stage of his career as a social reformer and a rebel, as he was indeed labelled by many students of his works in the Arab world. His heroes, whose main weapons are their eloquent tongues, are always engaged in struggles that are of a social nature. There are almost invariably three factors here: innocent romantic love, frustrated by a society that subjugates love to worldly selfish interests, a church order that claims wealth, power and absolute authority in the name of Christ but is in fact utterly antichrist, and a ruthlessly inhuman feudal system. However, in spite of the apparent climate of social revolt in his stories Gibran remains far from deserv- ing the title of social reformer. To be a reformer in revolt against something is to be in possession of a positive alternative. But nowhere do Gibran’s heroes strike us as having any real alternative. The alternatives, if any, are nothing but the negation of what the heroes revolt against. Thus their alternative for a corrupt love is no corrupt love, the sort of utopian love that we are made to see in Broken Wings; the alternative for a feudal system is no feudal system, or the kind of systemless society we end up with in Spirits Rebellious; and the alternative for a Christless church is a Christ without any kind of church, a madman in the kind of role in which John has found himself. Not being in possession of an alternative, a social reformer in revolt is instantly transformed from a hero into a social misfit. Thus Gibran’s heroes have invariably been heretics, madmen, wanderers, and even prophets and Gods. As such they all represent Gibran the emigrant misfit in Chinatown, Boston, drawn in his imagination and longing to Lebanon, his childhood’s fairyland, who is not so much concerned with the ills that corrupt its society as with the corrupt society that defiles its beauty. What kind of Lebanon Gibran has in mind becomes clearer in a relatively late essay in Arabic, in which his ideal of Lebanon and that of the antagonists whom he portrays in his stories are set against one another. 1 A/-Majmmuah al-Kdmila, vol. I, p. 101. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN 59 The best that Gibran the rebel could tell those corrupters of Lebanese society in this essay entitled “You Have Your Lebanon and I have Mine” is not how to make Lebanon a better society, but how beautiful is Lebanon without any society at all. He writes: “You have your Lebanon and its problems, and I have my Lebanon and its beauty. You have your Lebanon with all that it has of various interests and concerns, while I have my Lebanon with all that it has of aspira- tions and dreams … Your Lebanon is a political riddle that time attempts to resolve, while my Lebanon is hills rising in awe and majesty towards the blue sky … Your Lebanon is ports, industry and commerce, while my Lebanon is a far removed idea, a burning emotion, and an ethereal word whispered by earth into the ear of heaven … Your Lebanon is religious sects and parties, while my Lebanon is youngsters climbing rocks, running with rivulets and playing ball in open squares. Your Lebanon is speeches, lectures and discussions, while my Lebanon is songs of nightingales, swaying branches of oak and poplar, and echoes of shepherd flutes reverber- ating in caves and grottoes.” 1 It is no wonder that this kind of rebel should wind up his so-called social revolt at this stage of his career with the publication of a book of collected prose poems entitled A Tear and a Smile. The tears, which are much more abundant here than the smiles, are those of Gibran the misfit rather than of the rebel in Boston, singing in an exceedingly touching way of his frustrated love and estrangement, his loneliness, homesickness and melancholy. The smiles, on the other hand, are the expression of those hitherto intermittent but now more numerous moments in the life of Gibran the emigrant when Lebanon, the land of mystic beauty, ceases to be a geographical expression, and is gradually metamorphosed in his imagination into a metaphysical homeland. After such rudimentary attempts as his short story “The Ash of Generations and the Eternal Fire” in Nymphs of the Valley, expressive of his belief in reincarnation, Gibran has managed in his prose poems of A Tear and a Smile to give his home- sickness a clear platonic twist. His alienation has become that of the human soul entrapped in the foreign world of physical existence, and his homesickness has become the yearning of the soul so estranged for rehabilitation in the higher world of metaphysical truth whence it has originally descended. It is for this reason that human life is 1 Ibid., vol. III, pp. 202-203. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 60 THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN expressed by a tear and a smile: a tear for the departure and alienation and a smile for the prospect of a home-coming. The historic analogy of the sea in this respect becomes common from now on in Gibran’s writings: rain is the weeping of water that falls over hills and dales estranged from the mother sea, while running brooks sound the happy song of home-coming. “Such is the soul”, says Gibran in one of his prose poems. “Separated from the universal soul it takes its course in the world of matter passing like a cloud over the mountains of sorrow and the plains of happiness until it is met by the breezes of death, whereby it is brought back to where it originally belongs, to the sea of love and beauty, to god.” I When Gibran’s homeland, the object of his longing, was Lebanon, his anger was directed against those who in his view had defiled its beauty. But now that his homeland had gradually assumed a metaphys- ical Platonic meaning, his attack was no longer centred on local clergy, church dogma, feudalism and the other corrupting influences in Lebanon, but rather on the shamefully defiled image that man, the emigrant in the world of physical existence, has made of the world of God, his original homeland. Not only Lebanese society, but rather human society at large has become the main target of Gibran’s disgust and bitterness throughout the second stage of his career. This kind of disgust constitutes the central theme in Gibran’s long Arabic poem Processions of 1919 and his book of collected Arabic essays The Tempests of 1920, his last work in Arabic, as well as in his first two works in English, The Madman of 1918, and The Forerunner of 1920, both of which are collected parables and prose poems. The hero in Gibran’s poetico-fictional title-piece in The Tempests, Youssof al-Fakhry in his cottage among the forbidding mountains, becomes a mystery to the awe-stricken neighbourhood. Only to Gibran the narrator, seeking refuge in the cottage one stormy evening, does he reveal the secret of his heroic silence and seclusion. “It is a certain awakening in the uttermost depth of the soul,” he says, “a certain idea which takes a man’s conscience by surprise at a moment of forgetfulness, and opens his vision whereby he sees life … projec- ted like a tower of light between earth and infinity.” 2 Looking at the rest of men from the tower of life, from his giant God-self which he has so recognized at a rare moment of awakening, Youssof al-Fakhry sees them in their forgetful day-to-day earthly Ibid., vol. II, p. 95. 2 Ibid., vol. III, p. 111. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN 61 existence, at the bottom of the tower. In their placid unwillingness to lift their eyes to what is divine in their natures, they appear to him as disgusting pigmies, hypocrites and cowards. “I have deserted people”, he explains to his guest, “because I have found myself a wheel turning right among wheels invariably turning left.” “No, my brother,” he adds, “I have not sought seclusion for prayer or hermitic practices. Rather have I sought it in escape from people and their laws, teachings and customs, from their ideas, noises and wailings. I have sought seclusion so as not to see the faces of men selling their souls to buy with the price thereof what is below their souls in value and honour.”l In “The Grave-Digger”, another poetico-fictional piece in The Tempests, these men who have sold their souls, and who constitute in Gibran’s reckoning the rest of human society, are dismissed as dead, though in the words of the hero, modelled in the lines of Youssof al- Fakhry, “finding none to bury them, they remain on the face of the earth in stinking disintegration”. 2 The hero’s advice to Gibran the narrator is that for a man who has awakened to his giant God-self the best service he can render society is digging graves. “From that hour up to the present”, Gibran concludes, “I have been digging graves and burying the dead, but the dead are many and I am alone with nobody to help me.” 3 To be the only sane man among fools is to appear as the only fool among sane men. If life, as Youssof al-Fakhry says, is a tower whose bottom is the earth and whose top is the world of the infinite, then to clamour for the infinite in one’s life is to be considered an outcast and a fool by the rest of men clinging to the bottom of the tower. This is precisely how the Madman in Gibran’s first English work, The Madman, gained his title. His masks stolen, he was walking naked, as every traveller from the physical to the metaphysical is bound to be. Seeing his nakedness, someone on a house-top cried: “He is a mad- man.” Looking up, the sun, his higher self, kissed his naked face for the first time. He fell in love with the sun and wanted his masks, his physical and social attachments, no longer. Thereafter he was always known as the Madman, and as a madman he was at war against human society. Processions, Gibran’s long poem in Arabic, is a dialogue between two voices. Upon close analysis, the two voices seem to belong to one and I Ibid., vol. III, p. 106. 2 Ibid., vol. III, p. 11. 3 Ibid., vol. III, p. 15. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 62 THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN the same man: another of those Gibranian madmen, or men who have become Gods unto themselves. This man would at one time cast his eyes downwards at people living at the bottom of the tower, and consequently raise his voice in derision and sarcasm, poking fun at their unreality, satirizing their Gods, creeds and practices, and ridi- culing their values, ever doomed, blind as they are, to be at logger- heads. At another instant he would turn his eyes to his own sublime world beyond good and evil, where dualities interpenetrate giving way to unity, and then he would raise his voice in praise of life absolute and universal. To achieve self-fulfilment is to achieve serenity and peace. That Gibran and his heroes are still mad Gods, grave-diggers and enemies of mankind, filled with bitterness despite their claim of having arrived at the summit of life’s tower, reveals that Gibran’s self-fulfilment throughout this second stage of his work is still a matter of wishful thinking and make-believe rather than an accomplished fact. Too preoccupied with his own painful loneliness in his transcendental quest, Gibran the madman or superman, it seems, has failed hitherto not only to feel the joy of self-realization at the summit, but also to recognize the tragedy of his fellow-men supposedly lost in the mire down below. Consequently instead of love and compassion, people could only inspire in him bitterness and disgust. The stage of anger and disgust was succeeded in Gibran’s develop- ment by a third stage, that of The Prophet, his chef d’ceuvre, Jesus the Son of Man and The Earth Gods. The link is to be found in The Fore- runner of 1920, his book of collected poems and parables. To believe, as Gibran did, that life is a tower whose base is earth and whose summit is the infinite is also to believe that life is one and indivisible. For the man on top of life’s tower to reject those who are beneath, as Gibran had been doing up to this point, is to undermine his own height and become lower than the lowest he rejects. Thus one of Gibran’s poems in The Forerunner says, as though in atonement for all his Nietzschean revolt: “Too young am I and too outraged to be my freer self. “And how shall I become my freer self unless I slay my burdened selves, or unless all men become free? …. How shall the eagle in me soar against the sun until my fledgelings leave the nest which I with my own beak have built for them.”‘ 1 The Forerunner, p. 7. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN 63 Gibran’s belief in the unity of life, which has hitherto made only intermittent and at times confused appearances in his writings, has now become, with all its implications with regard to human life and conduct, the prevailing theme of the rest of his works. If life is one and infinite, then man is the infinite in embryo, just as a seed is in itself the whole tree in embryo. “Every seed”, says Gibran in one of his later works, “is a longing.” 1 This longing is presumably the longing of the tree in the seed for self-fulfilment in the actual tree that it had previously been. Every seed therefore bears within itself the longing, the self-fulfilment and the means by which this can be achieved. To transfer the analogy to man is to say that every man as a conscious being is a divine seed; is life absolute and infinite in embryo. Every man, therefore, according to Gibran, is a longing: the longing of the divine in man for man the divine whom he had previously been. But, to quote Gibran again, “No longing remains unfulfilled.” 2 Therefore every man is destined for Godhood. Like the seed, he bears within him the longing, the fulfilment which is God, and the road leading to this fulfilment. It is in this context that Gibran declares in The Forerunner, “You are your own forerunner, and the towers you have built are but the foundations of your giant self.” 3 Seeing man in this light, Gibran can no longer afford to be a grave- digger. A new stage has opened in his career. Men are divine and, therefore, deathless. If they remain in the mire of their earthly exist- ence, it is not because they are mean and disgusting, but because the divine in them, like the fire in a piece of wood, is dormant though it needs only a slight spark to be released into a blaze of light. Consequently, it is not a grave-digger that men need, but an igniter; a Socratic mid-wife, who would help man release the God in himself into the self that is one with God. Therefore in this new stage Gibran the grave-digger and the madman gives way to Gibran the prophet and the igniter. In The Prophet of 1923, Almustafa “who was a dawn unto his own day” sees his ship, for which he had waited twelve years in the city of Orphalese, returning to “bear him back to the isle of his birth”. The people of Orphalese leave their daily work and crowd around him in the city square to bid him farewell and beg for something of his 1 Sand and Foam, p. 16. 1 Ibid., p. 25. 1 The Forerunner, p. 7. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 64 THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN knowledge before he leaves, whereupon he answers their various questions on subjects of their own choosing. It is not hard to see that Almustafa the Prophet is Gibran himself, who in 1923 had already spent almost twelve years in New York city, the city of Orphalese, having moved there from Boston in 1912, and that the isle of his birth is Lebanon to which he had longed to return. But looking deeper still Almustafa can further symbolize the man who, in Gibran’s reckoning, has become his freer self; who has realized the passage in himself from the human to the divine, and is therefore ripe for emancipation and reunion with life absolute. His ship is death that has come to bear him to the isle of his birth, the Platonic world of metaphysical reality. As to the people of Orphalese, they stand for human society at large in which men, exiled in their spatio-temporal existence from their true selves, that is, from God, are in need in their God-ward journey of the guiding prophetic hand that would lead them from what is human in them to the divine. Having made that journey himself, Almustafa presents himself in his sermons throughout the book as that guide. Stripped of its poetical trappings, Gibran’s teaching in The Prophet is found to rest on the single idea that life is one and infinite. As a living being, man in his temporal existence is only a shadow of his real self. To be one’s real self is to be one with the infinite to which man is inseparably related. Self-realization, therefore, lies in going out of one’s spatio-temporal dimensions, so that the self is broadened to the extent of including everyone and all things. Consequently man’s only path in self-realization, to his greater self, lies in love. Hence love is the theme of the opening sermon of Almustafa to the people of Orpha- lese. No man can say “I” truly without meaning the totality of things apart from which he cannot be or be conceived. Still less can one love oneself truly without loving everyone and all things. So love is at once an emancipation and a crucifixion: an emancipation because it releases man from his narrow confinement and brings him to that stage of broader self-consciousness whereby he feels one with the infinite, with God; a crucifixion because to grow into the broader self is to shatter the smaller self which was the seed and confinement. Thus true self-assertion is bound to be a self-negation. “For even as love crowns you”, says Almustafa to his hearers, “so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.” I 1 The Propbei, p. 15. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN 65 Consequently love, which is our guide to our larger self, is insep- arable from pain. “Your pain”, says Almustafa, “is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.” 1 Thus conceived, pain becomes at once a kind of joy. It is the joy of the seed dying as a tree in embryo in a process of becoming a tree in full. It is only pain misunderstood and unheeded which is really painful. If our larger self is God, then anything that gives us pain is a witness that our self is not yet broad enough to contain it. For to contain all is to be in love and at peace with all. Pain truly understood is thus an impetus to growth and therefore to joy. “Your joy”, says Almustafa, “is your sorrow unmasked. The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” 2 If pain and joy are inseparable, so are life and death. In a universe that is infinite nothing can die except the finite, and nothing finite can be other than the infinite in disguise. Death understood is the pouring of the finite into the infinite, the passage of the God in man into the man in God. “Life and death are one”, says Almustafa, “even as the river and the sea are one … And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered.” 3 If life and death are one even as joy and pain, it must follow that life is not the opposite of death nor death the opposite of life. For to live is to grow and to grow is to exist in a continuous process of dying. Therefore every death is a rebirth into a higher state of being, in the Wordsworthian sense of “the child is father to the man”. Thus in a continuous chain of birth and rebirth man persists in his God-ward ascent, gaining at each step a broader consciousness of himself until he finally ends at the absolute. “It is a flame spirit in you”, says Almustafa, “ever gathering more of itself.” 4 Similarly, nothing can happen to us which is not in fact self-invited, and self-entertained. If God is our greater self, then nothing can befall us from without. Says Almustafa: 1 Ibid., p. 60. 2 Ibid., p. 35. 3 Ibid., pp. 90-91. ‘ Ibid., p. 97. Journal of Arabic Literature, V 5 This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 66 THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN “The murdered is not unaccountable for his own murder, And the robbed is not blameless in being robbed. And the righteous is not innocent of the deeds of the wicked, And the white-handed is not clean in the doings of the felon.”‘ lf God is our greater self then there can be no good in the infinite universe which is not the good of every man, nor can there be any evil for which anyone can abjure responsibility. “Like a procession”, says Almustafa, “you walk together towards your God self.” “… even as the holy and righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you, so the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also. And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree, So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.”2 It would follow that the spiritual elevation of a Christ is part and parcel of the material villainy of a Judas Iscariot. For in God Christ and Judas are one and inseparable. No man, therefore, no matter how elevated, can be emancipated into his larger self alone. An eagle, however high it can soar, is always bound to come down again to its fledgelings in the nest and is doomed to remain earthbound until they too become strong of wing, and the same is true of an elevated human soul or a prophet. So long as there remains even one speck of bestiality in any man no other human soul, no matter how near to God it may be, can be finally emancipated and escape the wheel of reincarnation. Like the released philosopher-prisoner in Plato’s allegory, he will again return to the cave, so long as his fellows are still there in darkness and in chains. Gibran’s Prophet, as he prepares to board his ship, says: “Should my voice fade in your ears, and my love vanish in your memory, then I will come again. A little while, and my longing shall gather dust and foam for another body. A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me.”3 In literary terms, this moment of rest upon the wind for Almustafa was brief indeed. Only five years elapsed on his departure from 1 Ibid., p. 47. 2 Ibid., pp. 46-47. 3 Ibid., p. 105. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN 67 Orphalese before he was given birth again; not by another woman, as he had foretold, but by Gibran himself. His name this time was not Almustafa but Jesus. Jesuts the Son of Man, Gibran’s second book after The Prophet, appeared in 1928, the first being only a short collection of aphorisms under the title of Sand and Foam. To the student of Gibran’s literary art, Jesus the Son of Man may offer some novelty, but not so to the student of his thought. Gibran in this book tries to portray Christ as he understands him by inviting a number of Christ’s contemporaries to speak of him each from his own point of view. Their views combined in the mind of the reader are intended to bring out the desired portrait. But names, places and situations apart, the Jesus so portrayed in the the book is not so much a new development of the Biblical Christ, as he is the old Biblical Nazarene transformed into another Gibranian Almustafa. Like Almustafa he is described as “The chosen and the beloved”, who after several previous rebirths is come and will come again to help lead men to their larger selves. He is not a God who has taken human form, but an ordinary man of ordinary birth who has been able through spiritual sublimation to elevate himself from the human to the divine. His several returns to earth are the several returns of the eagle who would not taste the full freedom of space before all his fledge- lings are taught to fly. “Were it not for a mother’s desire”, says Gibran’s Jesus, “I would have stripped me of the swaddling-clothes and escaped back to space. And were it not for sorrow in all of you, I would not have stayed to weep.” 1 Therefore Gibran’s Jesus was neither meek nor humble nor charac- terized by pity. His return to earth is the return of a winged spirit, intent on appealing not to human frailties, but to the power in man which is capable of lifting him from the finite to the infinite. One reporter on Jesus says, “I am sickened and the bowels within me stir and rise when I hear the faint-hearted call Jesus humble and meek, that they may justify their own faint-heartedness; and when the down-trodden, for comfort and companionship, speak of Jesus as a worm shining by their side. Yes, my heart is sickened by such men. It is the mighty hunter I would preach, and the mountainous spirit unconquerable.” 2 Gibran’s Jesus is even made to re-utter the Lord’s prayer in a way l Jesus The Son of Man, p. 19. 2 Ibid., p. 4. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 68 THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN appropriate to the heart and lips of Almustafa, teaching man to enlarge himself to the point of becoming one with the all-inclusive: “Our father in earth and heaven, sacred is Thy name. Thy will be done with us, even as in space ….. In Thy compassion forgive us and enlarge us to forgive one another. Guide us towards Thee and stretch down Thy hand to us in darkness. For Thine is the kingdom, and in Thee is our power and our fulfil- ment.”1 To dwell further on the character and teachings of Jesus as con- ceived by Gibran is to risk redundancy. In The Prophet, Gibran the thinker reaches his climax. His post-Prophet works, with the possible exception of The Earth Gods of 1931, the last book published in his lifetime, have almost nothing new to offer. The Wanderer of 1932, published posthumously, is a collection of parables and sayings much in the style and spirit of The Forerunner of 1920, published three years before The Prophet. As to The Garden of the Prophet, also published posthumously in 1933, it should be dismissed outright as a fake and a forgery. Gibran, who had planned The Garden of the Prophet to be an expression of Almustafa’s state of being and teachings after he had arrived in the isle of his birth from the city of Orphalese, had only time left to write two or three short passages for that book. Other passages were added, some of which are translations from Gibran’s early Arabic works, and some possibly written by another pen in imitation of Gibran’s style. The result was a book attributed to Gibran, in which Gibran’s poetry and thought are brought to a most unhappy state of chaos and confusion. This leaves us with The Earth Gods as the complete work with which Gibran’s career comes to its conclusion. And a fitting conclu- sion it is indeed. The book is a long prose poem where, in the words of Gibran, “The three earth-born Gods, the Master Titans of Life” hold a discourse on the destiny of man. Gibran, who throughout his career was a poet of alienation and longing, strikes us in The Prophet and in Jesus the Son of Man, Almus- tafa’s duplicate, as having arrived at his long-cherished state of intel- lectual rest and spiritual fulfilment. Almustafa and Christ, who in Gibran’s reckoning are earth-born Gods, reveal human destiny as being man’s gradual ascent through love and spiritual sublimation 1 Ibid., p. 60. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL, GIBRAN 69 towards ultimate reunion with God, the absolute and the infinite. It is possible that Gibran began to have second thoughts about the philosophy of his prophet towards the end of his life. Otherwise why is it that instead of one earth God, one human destiny, he now presents us with three who apparently are in disagreement? Shortly after Jesus the Son of Man, Gibran, who had for some time been fighting a chronic illness, came to realize that the fates were not on his side. Like Almustafa, he must have seen his ship coming in the mist to take him to the isle of his birth and in the lonely journey towards death, armed as he was with the mystic convictions of Almustafa, he must have often stopped to examine the implications of his philosophy. In his farewell address to the people of Orphalese, Almustafa saw his departure as “A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind”. But what of this endless cycle of births and rebirths? If man’s ultimate destiny as a finite being is to unite with the infinite, then that destiny is a virtual impossibility. For the road to the infinite is infinite, and man’s quest as a traveller through reincarnation is bound to be endless and fruitless. Therefore comes the voice of Gibran’s first God: “Weary is my spirit of all there is. I would not move a hand to create a world Nor to erase one. I would not live could I but die, For the weight of aeons is upon me, And the ceaseless moan of the seas exhaust my sleep. Could I but lose the primal aim And vanish like a wasted sun; Could I but strip my divinity of its purpose And breathe my immortality into space And be no more; Could I but be consumed and pass from time’s memory Into the emptiness of nowhere.”1 In another place this same God says: “For all that I am, and all that there is on earth, And all that shall be, inviteth not my soul. Silent is thy face, And in thine eyes the shadows of night are sleeping. But terrible is thy silence, And thou art terrible.”2 I The Earth Gods, p. 3. 2 Ibid., pp. 5-6. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms 70 THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN If man in his ascent to the infinite is likened to a mountain-climber, then these moments of gloom and helplessness only occur when he casts his eyes towards the infinitely removed summit beyond. It is not so when he casts his eyes downwards and sees the heights he has already scaled. The loneliness and gloom then give way to optimism and reassurance. For a journey that can be started is a journey that can be concluded. Gibran on his lonely voyage must have turned to see this other implication in Almustafa’s philosophy. There we hear the voice of the second God, whose eyes are turned optimistically down- wards. His philosophy is that the height of the summit is a part of the lowliness of the valley beneath. That the valley is now transcended is a reassurance that the summit can be considered as already conquer- ed. For to reach the summit is to reach the highest point to which a valley could raise its depth. Man’s journey to God is therefore a journey inwards and not an external quest. The second God says to the first: “We are the beyond and we are the most high And between us and the boundless eternity Is naught save our unshaped passion And the motive thereof. You invoke the unknown, And the unknown clad with moving mist Dwells in your own soul. Yea, in your own soul your redeemer lies asleep And in sleep sees what your waking eye does not see. … Forbear and look down upon the world. Behold the unweaned children of your love. The earth is your abode, and the earth is your throne; And high beyond man’s furtherest hope Your hand upholds his destiny.”‘ Yet in Gibran’s lonely journey towards death, a voice not so pessi- mistic as that of his first God nor so optimistic as that of the second is heard. This voice, coming perhaps from the youthful past of Broken Wings and A Tear and a Smile, though not part of Almustafa’s voice, is yet not out of harmony with it. It is the voice of someone who has come to realize that man has so busied himself philosophizing about life that he has forgotten to live it. Rather than the climber terrified by the towering height of the summit or reassured by the lowliness of the valley, here is a love-intoxicated youth in the spring meadows on the mountainside. I Ibid., p. 22. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms THE MIND AND THOUGHT OF KHALIL GIBRAN 71 “There is a wedding in the valley. “Brothers, my brothers,” the third God rebukes his two fellows, “A day too vast for recording. … We shall pass into the twilight; Perchance to wake to the dawn of another world. But love shall stay, And his finger-marks shall not be erased. The blessed forge burns, The sparks rise, and each spark is a sun. Better it is for us, and wiser, To seek a shadowed nook and sleep in our earth divinity And let love, human at,d frail, command the coming day.”‘ Thus Gibran concludes his life-long alienation. His thought in the twilight of his days seems to have swung back to his youth where it first started. It is a complete cycle, in conformity, though perhaps unconsciously, with his idea of reincarnation. The tenacious cedar tree which was Gibran the Prophet went back again to the seed that it was: to love, human and frail-“Perchance to wake to the dawn of another world.”2 N. NAIMY l Ibid., pp. 25-26. 2 Ibid., pp. 38-41. This content downloaded from 128.228.0.57 on Sun, 15 Mar 2020 14:39:26 UTC All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms
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2013 Encyclopedia of World Poetry: 1900 to the Present (2 nd ed.) Facts On File Companion to Literature Work overview (Level 4)About this WorkFull Text:  Kahlil Gibran(b. 1883–d. 1931)Lebanese-born American essayist, short story writer, poetLebanese author and artist Gibran Khalil Gibran is one of the world’s best-known writers, his works having been translated into morethan 20 languages. His 1923 volume remains the best-selling volume ever issued by Alfred A. Knopf. Gibran drew onboth Eastern and Western traditions to write about what it means to be both a physical and a spiritual being in the modern world.Especially during the 1960s, Gibran’s philosophical works found favor with widespread audiences. In his first inaugural addressPresident John F. Kennedy quoted Gibran (“Letter to Syrian Youth”) when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; askwhat you can do for your country.”Gibran was born to a Maronite Christian family in Bechari, Lebanon, in 1883. His family’s economic situation was unstable, making itdifficult for Gibran to obtain a formal education. He did, however, receive instruction in languages and religion from a local priest. Atthe age of 12 Gibran immigrated with his mother and siblings to the United States, settling in Boston, near relatives. Two years laterGibran returned to Lebanon to complete his secondary education. Having displayed artistic talent, he was accepted at the prestigiousÉcole des Beaux Arts in Paris. The famed sculptor Auguste Rodin was among his instructors. Although Gibran is best known as anauthor, he continued to work as a sculptor and artist throughout his life and illustrated several of his own books.At the age of 21 Gibran returned to Boston and lived in Chinatown for the next several years. Gibran’s melancholy was exacerbatedby the deaths from tuberculosis of his half-brother and sister and the death of his mother from cancer. After these events, he movedto New York, where he lived for most of his life. He died from a liver ailment on April 10, 1931.Gibran’s earliest writings were in Arabic, including his 1910 collection of short stories (Nymphs of the Valley) and his1914 volume of poetry and prose (Tears and Laughter). By the time he moved to New York works in his nativelanguage had made him a celebrity in the Middle East.Gibran’s work is characterized by a longing for connection and unity. His feelings of alienation from the two cultures in which he livedas an outsider were increased by the horrors of World War I. In spite of his critical and financial success, Gibran was deeply troubledby the deplorable economic conditions in Lebanon, where, by the beginning of the war, large numbers of citizens were starving.Searching for deeper spirituality and understanding, Gibran turned away from organized religion. At the same time, his work wasbecoming increasingly more mystical and philosophical. Strong biblical influences are apparent in the rich images and style of hiswork, as are lyrical influences of his Arabic literary background. Much of his writing tries to answer the important questions of humanexistence while Gibran struggles with these questions himself, creating a sense of unresolved internal turmoil in his work.In 1918 Gibran published his first work in English: . The title character feels he possesses adeeper understanding of life than the masses, who consider him a madman, a theme Gibran treats in other works. Five years laterGibran published the first volume of a planned trilogy consisting of , and . This first book became Gibran’s most critically acclaimed and most widely read work. The sequels, two separate volumes,were published after his death. Gibran stipulated in his will that all subsequent royalties from his writing be given to the Lebanese village of his birth.Gibran, Khalil . , 1910. Translated by H. M. Nahmad. Published as . New York: Knopf, 1948.———. , 1914. Translated by Anthony Rizcallah Ferris. Published as , edited by Martin L.Wolf. New York: Philosophical Library, 1949. Also published as . Translated by Nahmad with an introduction byRobert Hillyer. New York: Knopf, 1950.———. . New York: Knopf, 1918.———. . New York: Knopf, 1920.———. . New York: Knopf, 1923.———. . New York: Knopf, 1928.———. . New York: Knopf, 1933. Hamm, Jean. COPYRIGHT 2013 R. Victoria Arana (MLA 8th Edition)    Arana, R. Victoria. “Gibran, Khalil.” : , 2nd ed., Facts on File, 2013. Companion toLiterature. , https://link-gale-com.bmcc.ezproxy.cuny.edu/apps/doc/CX6257200165/GVRL?u=cuny_mancc&sid=GVRL&xid=c92fc0db. Accessed 15 Mar.2020. GALE|CX6257200165
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39 Chapter 2 Kahlil Gibran: the development of the Romantic method Introduction Kahlil Gibran (1883–1931) was one of the leading members of the Syro- American School, and an organiser, leader and active member of the Pen League. 1 Lebanese by birth, Christian by creed, he was the inheritor and bearer of two cultures: Western and Arab. A man of many gifts, both refined and emotional, a painter and a musician, he was, however, most famed as a major figure of literature. He penned short stories, parabl es, prose poems, essays, fables, poetry and criticism. His first publications were the book al- Musiqa (Music , 1905), and two collections of stories, ¡Ara¤is al- Muruj (Nymphs of the Valley, 1907) and al- Arwah al- Mutamarrida (Spirits Rebellious , 1908). His only further large- scale works in Arabic were the story al- Ajniha al- Mutakassira (Broken Wings, 1912), the poetical diwan al- Mawakib (The Processions, 1919), the collection of articles and prose poems Dam¡a wa ibtisama (A Tear and a Smile , 1914), al-¡Awasif (The Tempests , 1920) and al- Bada¤i¡ wa al- Tara¤if (The New and the Marvellous, 1923). The re- mainder of his output was written in English: The Madman (1918), The Forerunner (1920), The Prophet (1923), Sand and Foam (1926), Jesus the Son of Man (1928), The Earth Gods (1931), The Wanderer (1932), The Garden of the Prophet (1933) and others. All these works were translated into Arabic and published in various editions in the Middle East. Notwithstanding his sharply expressed individuality, Gibran’s fate and his world- view bear the characteristic marks of the Arab creative intelligentsia in exile. He is filled with democratic aspirations, he is troubled about the destiny of the ordinary working man, the situation of Arab women (e.g. “Marta al- Baniyah”, “The Cry of the Graves”, “The Bride’s Bed”, Broken Wings) and social injustice in Lebanese life (e.g. “The Cry of the Graves”, “The Palace and the Hut”, “A Tear and a Smile”). He realises that society is divided into the haves and have- nots, and that the latter toil by the sweat of their brow yet live in poverty, subjected to exploitation not only by the rich but also by the ministers of religion (e.g. “John [Yuhanna] the Madman”, “Khalil the Heretic”). Some Arab scholars, including Yamni al- Ida, consider that “Gibran was unable to go deeply into the existing social and economic situation, and paid no attention to the working class”. 2 It should be remembered, however, that Gibran’s works only describe life in Lebanon, where capitalism had not yet become fully formed. Recognising the liberation movement of the Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 40 kahlil gibran peasants as a significant force, the writer became a kind of apologist for a “peasant revolution” (“Khalil the Heretic”). Gibran was su re that a better future can only be had by struggle, that freedom is obtained by fighti ng, not by dreaming: They tell me: If you see a slave sleeping, do not wake him lest he be dr eaming of freedom. I tell them: If you see a slave sleeping, wake him and explain to him fr eedom. “Handful of Beach Sand” 3 A man must not be satisfied with the mere present; he must strive for a better future, because – in the author’s deep conviction – “ only the coward tarries, and it is folly to look back on the City of the Past”. 4 In tracing the development of Gibran’s work, we shall try to show tha t as he progressed towards artistic maturity his creative method underwent significant changes. For this it is necessary to examine his relations hip to the English Lake School and the American Transcendentalists, and to trace the evolution of his outlook and poetic language and the changes in the image of the Romantic hero in his works. To examine the artistic develop- ment and legacy of Gibran it would seem expedient to single out his most characteristic works. Sentimentalism in Gibran’s early works Gibran’s creative method underwent significant changes as he progressed towards artistic maturity. The evolution in his comprehension of the world is reflected in the transition from the Sentimentalism of his early prose, which was then the natural stage of his artistry, to Romanticism. Sentimentalism as a literary tendency was a reaction to Enlightenment Rationalism. Belinsky paid tribute to the role of Sentimentalism in the de- velopment of Russian literature thus: “The purpose of Sentimentalism, which was introduced to Russian literature by Karamzin, was to arouse society and prepare it for a life of the heart and of feeling.” 5 In Arabic literature, as also in that of Western Europe and Russia, Sentimentalism was closely connected to Enlightenment Classicism. It was a transitional period between Enlightenment and Romanticism, and represented a step forward in the development of the new Arabic literatu re. The work of a number of Arab writers developed along the Sentimental – ist path, among them Mustafa Lutfi al- Manfaluti and Muhammad Husayn Haykal. 6 Naimy gives an original and poetic description of how Sentimentalism came to Arabic literature: Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 41 sentimentalism in gibran’s early works As a tendency, Sentimentalism acted out its role on the boards of the theatre of Western literature and then disappeared behind the curtain; not one of th e spectators applauded with so much as a clap of the hands … One gains t he impression that having thus failed in the West, Sentimentalism then set out in search of pastures new, and by chance stumbled upon the little East. Finding here many tearful eyes, and still more who suffered the pains of the hea rt, it pitched its pavilions in Egypt and Syria and became with its retinue and servants a dear and esteemed guest. 7 Of course, one should not agree completely with Naimy’s simplistic, half- jesting appraisal, in which the attributes of Sentimentalism are merely excessive sensitivity, tearfulness and artificiality. In turn, Belinsky also wrote with irony about these attributes of Senti – mentalism: “Sensitive souls went in crowds to stroll at Liza’s pon d: Erasts, Leons, Leonids, Melodors, Filarets, Ninas, Lizas, Emilies and Julias, mu l- tiplied to extremes. Their sighs made the calmest of days windy, and their tears flowed in rivers.” 8 Sentimentalism was also a natural stage in the development of Gibran’ s artistic method. Dolinina writes: “Gibran’s early works … are permeated with sentimental motifs, with searches for harmony in the world, whose origin are necessarily love and beauty, poured into nature; they are full of sadness for the lot of the ‘humble and insulted’.” 9 Some Arab and Western scholars of Gibran have claimed that the writer was influenced by Rousseau through certain works of his that he knew. 10 We can concur with this opinion, while not forgetting that Gibran’s Sentimentalist style is l ikely to owe more to the storytelling tradition of his upbringing in classical Arabic literature. Krachkovsky considers that the excessive sensitivity and high- flown tone, which sounds deliberate and affected, is not in fact merely the style of a few Arab writers but rather characteristic of the general psychology and beh av- iour of the Arabs as a nation: And if we compare the style of Gibran with the style of, say, contemporary Arab life, we will no longer see that artificiality that struck us at first sight. That is the way life is, and not just the literature that reflects it. The roo ts of this style are to be found in the spiritual nature itself, not only of the individu al writer but of the entire life out of which he grew. 11 In Gibran’s works the qualities of Sentimentalism and Romanticism co- existed, as it were, in parallel for a considerable time. The works cont ained in the collection A Tear and a Smile (1914), written in the period 1903–08, the collections Nymphs of the Valley (1907) and Spirits Rebellious (1908), and in particular the story Broken Wings (1912), are evidence of a particular national variety of early Romanticism, in which traits that are intrinsi c to Arabic literature, such as a disposition towards sensitivity and a quali ty of moralising, can be seen. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 42 kahlil gibran In a number of short stories, for example “Marta al- Baniyah”, 12 “Warda al- Hani” 13 and the longer story Broken Wings, 14 the characteristics of Senti- mentalism are predominant. Significantly, in all these works the author addresses the topic of the emancipation of the Oriental woman, regarding it not from a social per – spective but rather in terms of defending the feelings of women and thei r rights within the sphere of the family. Such an approach to women’s eman- cipation was characteristic of Arab Enlighteners, in particular Qasim Amin, who believed that the rebirth of a nation and the struggle for progress must begin with changes in the conditions of women’s lives and a reorganis ation of the family. 15 The theme of woman particularly occupied Gibran. In one of his letters to the Syrian writer Maryam Ziyada (“Mayy”) he wrote: I am indebted for all that I call “I” to women ever since I was an infant. Women opened the windows of my eyes and the doors of my spirit. Had it not bee n for the woman- mother, the woman- sister and the woman- friend, I would have been sleeping among those who disturb the serenity of the world with their sn ores. 16 Gibran’s approach to women in the stories “Warda al- Hani” and “Marta al- Baniyah”, like that of many other Arab writers and Enlighteners, emph a – sises the subject of love. In the Arab East in those years the women’ s ques- tion was not yet one of political rights as in Europe, but a question of family and love, of the right of women to love and happiness. It was necessary for literature to show that women were also “capable of love”.’ 17 Both stories are highly melodramatic and the author’s entire atten – tion is concentrated on the tortuous inner life of the heroes. Almost al l of the substance boils down to the sensitive monologues of the heroines, in which they speak of their unhappy lives, while the author listens and sh ows sympathy with them. “Marta al- Baniyah” is the story of a young village girl tempted by a rich city- dweller who is passing through. Having enjoyed himself with her for a certain time, he drops her and her young child. To avoid starvation, Marta is forced to sell her body. Exhausted both morally and physically, she soon dies, leaving her young son to the will of fate. The stylistic mode of the story betrays its tendency to Sentimentalism. Marta’s life in the village of her birth had been difficult: From her mother she inherited only tears of grief and her orphan state. … Each morning she walked barefooted in a tattered dress behind a milch cow to a part of the valley where the pasture was rich, and sat in the shade of a tree . She sang with the birds and wept with the brook while she envied the cow its abun dance of food. She looked at the flowers and watched the fluttering butter flies. 18 Here, it would seem, are all the accessories of Sentimentalism. The mass of “sensitive” collisions continues throughout the story: the unbeara ble suf – fering of rejection, the painful illness, her passionate awaiting of dea th and Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 43 sentimentalism in gibran’s early works so on. Here is the last supplication as she dies: “O Justice who are hidden, concealed behind these terrifying images, you, and you alone, hear the c ry of my departing spirit and the call of my neglected heart.” 19 These words naturally do not come across as the speech of an illiterate village girl forced to become a prostitute; they contain too much of the voice of the author, filled with sentimental sadness for the fallen woman. Traces of Sentimentalism can also be found in the story “Warda al- Hani” (“Madame Rose Hanie”). The subject here is remarkable: a young woman, realising that she does not love her distinguished and wealthy husband, leaves him for a poor youth she does love. The step she thus takes, with out fearing the blame placed on her by society, is practically unheard of for an Arab woman. In this story Gibran tells of the extremely common situ – ation in the East in which girls are married for reasons other than love . Warda recounts to the narrator a series of distressing stories of women w ho were married at the will of their parents. With these specific examples the heroine underlines the naturalness of her brave deed, which yet appears to those around her to be so immoral and shameful. The story contains many high- flown images, expressions and turns of speech. It is not only in the long monologues of Warda, or her husband Rashid Bey, in which they speak of their feelings and intimate experiences, that the signs of Sentimentalism appear, but also in the speech of the narrator himself. Here is how the teller describes his state on hearing the sorrowful complaints of the abandoned husband: “I rose with tears in my eyes and mercy in my heart, and silently bade him [my friend] goodbye; m y words had no power to console his wounded heart, and my knowledge had no torch to illuminate his gloomy self.” “Marta al- Baniyah” and “Warda al- Hani” are generally artistically poor. There is little lyrical digression by the author and the images of Marta and Warda are simplistic: the characters are revealed only to the degree nece s- sary to expose the ideas contained in them. Gibran’s Sentimentalism finds its fullest expression in Broken Wings, the story of the tragic fate of a woman forced to marry a man she does not l ove. (It is to a certain extent autobiographical: as confirmed by various biog – raphers, Gibran suffered a tragic love affair in his youth, which ended in the death of his beloved, who had been promised to another man.) 20 It is a typically melodramatic story, narrated by the person of the author. The plot is limited to revealing the internal world of the heroes and their elevated feelings and experiences. The outline of the story is as follows: the narrator, himself a character in the work, goes to visit a friend whose father has died. There he meet s the daughter of the household, Selma. Love between the two young people flourishes instantly, but is short- lived and ends unhappily. It emerges that Selma has been promised to the nephew of the archbishop, and owing to the latter’s high position her father does not dare to refuse him. Th e end of the story is tragic: the father dies of grief, realising that he has made his Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 44 kahlil gibran daughter unhappy, and in giving birth to the archbishop’s child, both Selma and the newborn die.The tale consists of a lyrical prologue and ten short chapters, each of which has a title corresponding to its position in the development of th e plot. This indicates the author’s attempt to mark out a chain of even ts. The events themselves – acquaintance, rendezvous, marriage, separation an d so on – are what effectively move the story forward. Many events appear to take place, yet these are merely starting points, a kind of code that al lows the author to begin and continue an uninterrupted lyrical monologue in which he reveals the world of his feelings and emotional experiences. Th ere is no real action in the detailed development of the work. The sequence of events indicated in the chapter headings serves merely as a framework fo r extended discourses by the heroes and the author, and not for developing the action of the narrative. No sooner has the first meeting with Selm a at the opening of the story been mentioned than there follows a whole strea m of reasoning and declarations – of beauty and its essence, of love, of Selma’s interior world, of the sublimity and refinement of her form, of the so ul seized by grief, of the charm of her silent sorrow: Selma sat by the window, looking on with sorrowful eyes and not speaking, al- though beauty has its own heavenly language, loftier than the voices of tongues and lips. It is a timeless language, common to all humanity, a calm lake that attracts the singing rivulets to its depth and makes them silent. Only our spirits can understand beauty, or live and grow with it. It puzzles our minds; we are unable to describe it in words; it is a sensation that our eyes cannot see, derived from both the one who observes and the one who is lo oked upon. Real beauty is a ray which emanates from the holy of holies of the spirit, and illuminates the body, as life comes from the depths of the earth and gives colour and scent to a flower. Real beauty lies in the spiritual accord that is called love which can e xist between a man and a woman. Broken Wings 21 Other chapters also contain little by way of narrative. Despite the fact that the story involves various characters, in essence the entire piece is solely a monologue by the author. In these outpourings, moreover, the nar – rator barely touches on social or public questions. For the most part he is occupied with ethical questions, philosophy and the life of the heart an d the soul. The exception to this is his reflection on the theme of the cler gy and on the role of the woman in the family. A further characteristic of the story is the inertness of its heroes and their submissiveness to circumstances. There is not the slightest protest: no murmur, no attempt to change their lot, no hint of a struggle. The substance of the story amounts to a description of sensations and emo – tions: comparison clings to comparison, metaphor to metaphor, image to image. The melodramatic outcome in the destinies of the heroes – sadn ess, Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 45 sentimentalism in gibran’s early works dejection, submissiveness to fate and bitter disappointment, with no sto rms of despair, cursing or anger – are explicit signs of the Sentimentalist method. The mood of the heroes is characterised by a sensitiveness that constant ly borders on tears. There are also scenes of great contrast: the jolly fea st held by Selma’s husband, the death of the child, the sobbing of the doctor and Selma’s cries of despair, all of which are portrayed on this single canvas.A feature of Sentimentalism in both Western European and Russian lit- erature – for example in the works of Samuel Richardson, Laurence Stern, Jean- Jacques Rousseau and Nikolay Karamzin – is an interest in everyday life, the world of things and the details of daily living. Here for example is Karamzin’s description of Liza’s actions when Erast asks her fo r a glass of milk: “She ran to the cellar, brought a clean earthenware pot covered with a clean wooden disc, took a glass, washed it and wiped it with a wh ite towel, filled it and served it at the window.” 22 In Gibran’s Broken Wings the tokens of everyday life are reduced solely to the statement of individua l specific facts. The author is almost never distracted into describing any kind of realia such as situations, portraits or the setting. The details of the portrait, given in the form of brief epithets – “slender”, “ slim”, “golden hair”, “sorrowful look” – descend into lengthy, verbose digressions. Here is an example: Selma Karamy had bodily and spiritual beauty, but how can I describe her to one who never knew her? Can a dead man remember the singing of a nightin – gale and the fragrance of a rose and the sigh of a brook? Can a prisoner who is heavily loaded with shackles follow the breeze of the dawn? Is not silen ce more painful than death? Does pride prevent me from describing Selma in plain words since I cannot draw her truthfully with luminous colors? A hungry man in a desert will not refuse to eat dry bread if Heaven does not shower h im with manna and quails. The beauty of Selma’s face was not classic; it was like a dream of re vela – tion which cannot be measured or bound or copied by the brush of a paint er or the chisel of a sculptor. Selma’s beauty was not in her golden hair, but in the virtue of purity which surrounded it; not in her large eyes, but in the light which emanated from them; not in her red lips, but in the sweetness of h er words; not in her ivory neck, but in its slight bow to the front. Nor wa s it in her perfect figure, but in the nobility of her spirit, burning like a white torch between earth and sky. Her beauty was like a gift of poetry. But poets are unhappy people, for, no matter how high their spirits reach, they will still be enclosed in an envelope of tears. 23 And so on. The dialogue, which usually helps to move a plot forward, is also weak in this story. The attention given to landscape description is also fitting to the Se nti- mentalist method, whereby the natural setting reflects the psychologic al and emotional state of the heroes and underlines the soft lyricism of the wo rk: Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 46 kahlil gibran The scent of flowers mingled with the breeze as we came into the garden and sat silently on a bench near a jasmine tree, listening to the breathing of sleeping nature, while in the blue sky the eyes of heaven witnessed our drama.The moon came out from behind Mount Sannin and shone over the coast, hills, and mountains; and we could see the villages fringing the valley like ap- paritions which have suddenly been conjured from nothing. We could see the beauty of Lebanon under the silver rays of the moon. Broken Wings 24 This entire extract is characterised by the special selection of words a nd expressions that bring into the world an exalted ideal beauty. The land – scape sketch could not be better suited to the forthcoming event – th e first meeting of the lovers. A moralising tendency can be seen in the style of the story. At every op- portunity the author draws on a supply of morality elements. In speaking , for example, of the hypocrisy and predatoriness of the clergy and the ev il that they bring upon the people, the author-narrator resorts to an adage: “However, the people of Oriental nations place trust in such as they – wolves and butchers who ruin their country through covetousness and crus h their neighbors with an iron hand.” 25 Or on wealth, “In some countries, the parent’s wealth is a source of misery for the children … The Almigh ty Dinar which the people worship becomes a demon which punishes the spirit and deadens the heart”, 26 or “our days are perishing like the leaves of autumn”, “The mother is everything – she is our consolation in sorrow, our hope in misery, and our strength in weakness”, 27 and so on. Sometimes these adages acquire the character of aphorisms: “Will a hungry man give his bread to another hungry man?”, 28 “A bird with broken wings cannot fly in the spa- cious sky”, 29 “The cup does not entice our lips unless the wine’s color is seen through the transparent crystal”, 30 for example. The entire story is filled with these aphorisms, adages, moralising generalisations and brief philo – sophical conclusions. The lyricism and confessional nature of Broken Wings and its mono – logue quality demand a constant appeal to the personal experience of the author-narrator. Even when the subject is the thoughts and feelings of other people, such as Selma and her father, it is as though the narrator steps out from behind their names in order to complete the story in his individual way. Here, in essence, we encounter one of the basic principles of Romanti – cism: the investing of the entire surrounding world with one’s own hu man passions. The confessional-lyrical, exclusively monological style of Broken Wings is also evidence of early shoots of a Romantic outlook within this work, whose basic method is still Sentimentalist. Dolinina comments on these characteristics and defines the style of th e story as “Romantic Sentimentalism”, 31 and in fact the traits of Romanti- cism can already be seen in it. Particularly Romantic is the heroine Sel ma, with her exceptional nature that strives towards her wishes and freedom. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 47 sentimentalism in gibran’s early works Elements of Romanticism appear in the hyperbolising of feelings and de- scriptions and in the landscape sketches that are sometimes secret and s ym- bolic. Nevertheless, Broken Wings remains an example of a Sentimentalist work. It contains no challenge to fate, to people or to God; no rebellio n or proud solitude, such as is so manifest in Gibran’s subsequent work s. However, Broken Wings set the tone, to a certain extent, for the way in which Romanticism started to emerge in the new Arabic literature, where restlessness or hints of active protest against contemporary social norm s were still alien, but interest in the psychology of the characters began to appear. “Romanticism”, wrote Belinsky, “is the interior world of man, the world of the soul and heart, a world of sensations and beliefs, a world of impulses toward the infinite, a world of secret visions and contemplation, a world of divine ideals”. 32 Apart from the fact that in Broken Wings Gibran anticipated the develop- ment of the Romantic method in Arabic literature, he secured for it two im – portant topics: the theme of women and that of anticlericalism. The ques – tion of women’s freedom is given a wider treatment in the story than merely the personal drama of one woman: “Thus destiny seized Selma and led her like a humiliated slave in the procession of miserable oriental woman.” 33 Nonetheless, the writer examines the lot of women not in terms of rights and society, but only in the sphere of family and conjugal relations. Gibran believes that in future women will have a full place in society, but does not give so much as a hint as to when or under what circumstances this might happen: “Will the day ever come when beauty and knowledge, ingenuity and virtue, and weakness of body and strength of spirit will be united i n a woman? I am one of those who believe that spiritual progress is a rule of human life, but the approach to perfection is slow and painful” (“ Before the Throne of Death”). 34 On the problem of marriage, Gibran writes: “Marriage these days is a mockery whose management is in the hands of young men and parents. In most countries the young men win while the parents lose. The woman is looked upon as a commodity, purchased and delivered from one house to another.” 35 He equates the oppressed woman to an oppressed nation, so that her suf – fering, lack of rights and ignominy become the suffering, lack of rights and indignity of the whole nation: “But my dear readers, don’t you think that such a woman is like a nation that is oppressed by priests and rulers? D on’t you believe that thwarted love which leads a woman to the grave is like the despair which pervades the people of the earth?” 36 Anticlerical motifs are also prominent in the story. On learning that the archbishop has promised his dissolute nephew to Selma, the narrator give s himself up to extensive reflections: The heads of religion in the East are not satisfied with their own mun ificence, but they must strive to make all members of their families superiors and opp ressors. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 48 kahlil gibran The glory of a prince goes to his eldest son by inheritance, but the exaltation of a religious head is contagious among his brothers and nephews. Thus t he Christian bishop and the Moslem imam and the Brahman priest become like sea reptiles who clutch their prey with many tentacles and suck their bl ood with numerous mouths. “Lake of Fire” 37 The author’s criticism of the dependent position of Eastern women and his exposure of clericalism and the dissolute life of members of the ari stoc- racy, together with other topical issues of his day, lend the story a certain social sharpness and reveal the author’s relationship to contemporary life. Nonetheless, these moments of revelation in the story are not emphasised or highlighted, nor are they commented on by the heroes or the author. To summarise, Broken Wings is a Sentimentalist work that contains certain Romantic elements. Its content and purpose are confined solely to revealing the interior world of the heroes and their elevated feelings a nd experiences. Naturally, this arrangement leads the author to a large stock of moral generalisations and lends the work a philosophical character. The very landscape is in sympathy with the moods of the characters. Yet with Broken Wings Gibran broke out of the conventions of Sentimentalism. The entire spirit of the story and the development of its plot are subordinated to its principal function: that of the author–narrator’s self- expression, which takes the form of an unbroken interior confessional monologue that also includes a story about the feelings and experiences of the other charact ers. The whole story is cemented by the personality of the author, and this is the realisation of one of the basic principles of the Romantic form. Broken Wings thus combines motifs of Enlightenment Humanism and Sentimentalism. At the same time, Gibran’s Sentimentalism shows a cle ar development towards Romanticism. The formation of Gibran’s Romantic world-view and his assimilation of English and American methods If there was a predominance of Sentimentalism in Gibran’s narrative p rose, then the genres included in the collection A Tear and a Smile 38 – essays and prose poems – could not hint more distinctly at Romantic stylistics. A Tear and a Smile shows the way in which Gibran began to master Romanticism. It contains works published over several years (1903–08) in émig ré publica- tions, particularly in the newspaper al- Muhajir ( The Émigré). Gibran had now taken up the genre of prose poetry, short essays that capture assorted impressions and thoughts of the author and his philosophical reflectio ns. They are elegant and musical, their language refined and often aphoris tic. The range of topics touched by Gibran in his book is broad: the posi – tion of the individual in society, his relationship to nature, the meaning of Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 49 the formation of gibran’s romantic world-view human existence, the poet and poetry, love and beauty. Many of the pieces in the collection are imbued with Sentimentalist motifs and regarded wit h extreme sensitivity, intense lyricism and a tendency towards moralising and homily. The style of the work is expressive, and in Gibran a special role is played by rhetorical questions and exclamations (“A Visit from Wisdom”, “O Wind”, “The Secret Conversation” and others): Who am I, Wisdom, and how came I to this frightening place? What manner of things are these mighty hopes and these many books and strange patter ns? What are these thoughts that pass as doves in flight? And these words composed by desire and sung by delight, what are they? What are these conclusions , griev- ous and joyous, that embrace my spirit and envelop my heart? And those e yes which look at me seeing into my depths and fleeing from my sorrows? .. . What is this world that leads me whither I know not, standing with me in despising? … O Wisdom, what manner of things are these? “A Visit from Wisdom” 39 The poems are filled with such perplexity and with tragic exclamations that reflect the complex and poignant interior world of the poet.Regarding A Tear and a Smile, I.Yu. Krachkovsky wrote that Gibran’s Sentimentalism does not bring a smile, because it meets with an echo in the soul of eve ry Arab, whether he live in New York or be still in his Lebanese village beside the hills of cedars. Those same speeches that seem to us to be unnatural and stilt ed will be heard at any gathering where only an Arab feels at home and among his own kind, although the reason that caused them will also seem to us to be st rangely unfitting to the extremely elevated and passionate tone of the words. 40 The recognition of the human dignity of the poor and sympathy towards them, contrasted with censure of the moral deafness and iniquitous way o f life of the wealthy, is a typical theme in Sentimentalism and strongly evident in this book. However, Gibran does not emphasise the social demarcation of the problem of wealth and poverty. His protest is a protest by humanity “in general” against injustice “in general”. Examples include his p rose poems “The Palace and the Hut”, “The Criminal”, “The Dumb Beast” and “A Tear and a Smile”. The first of these 41 is a highly contrasted picture of the lives of the wealthy and the labourers: Night was falling and the lights in the mansion of the rich man shone br ightly. The servants, clad in velvet, with buttons gleaming on their breasts, st ood awaiting the guests. Music played and the lords and ladies descended on that palace from all parts, drawn in their carriages by fine horses. There they entered, dressed in gorgeous raiment and decorated with jewels. Then the men rose from their places and took the ladies to dance. And th at hall became a garden through which the breezes of melody passed, and its flowers inclined in awe and wonder. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 50 kahlil gibran Soon midnight approached and the table was laid with the choicest of fru its and the finest of foods. Cups were passed from one to another and wine played with the senses of all those there until they in turn took to play. And when morning was near they dispersed, for they were tired with merrymaking an d bemused by wine and wearied of dancing and revelry. And everyone betook himself to his bed. “The Palace and the Hut” 42 And here is the picture for the poor: As the sun sank low beyond the horizon, a man dressed in the garb of a l abourer stood at the door of a mean house and knocked thereon. It opened to him and he entered, greeting those within with a cheerful countenance, and sat d own in the midst of his children by the fire. […]At dawn’s approach that poor man rose from his bed and partook of a l ittle bread and milk with his wife and little ones. Then he kissed them and we nt away with a heavy spade over his shoulder to the field, to water it with hi s sweat and make it fruitful that it might feed those mighty ones who yestereve made merry. “The Palace and the Hut” 43 The work ends with an adage characteristic of the Sentimentalists: “S o is man’s burden: a tragedy played on the stage of time. Many are the spe cta- tors that applaud; few are they that comprehend and know.” 44 The ending is typically calm, as though merely stating a fact. The pictu re that the poem has painted seems too abstract and non- specific. This is not Lebanon, nor Egypt, nor any other country in particular. It is simply the eternal and natural order of things, which causes the author a feeling of sadness, but one to which he seems to submit. The method of contrast noted in “The Palace and the Hut” appears most distinctly in the prose poem “A Smile and a Tear”, 45 in which it is less concerned with revealing social contrasts than in contrasting experi – ences and feelings: happiness and calmness are juxtaposed with tragedy and hopelessness. The story “The Criminal” 46 also treats the social theme in an abstract manner. A hungry youth, unable to find work, begs for charity. But his ap- pearance does not arouse compassion and, to avoid dying of starvation, h e is forced to turn to crime: “Many years passed and that youth severed necks for the sake of their adornment, and destroyed bodies to satisfy his app etite. He increased in riches and was renowned for his strength and violence. He was beloved among the plunderers of the people and feared by the law- abiding.” 47 The prose poem ends with the following adage: “Thus do men in their greed make of the wretched criminals, and with their harshn ess drive the child of peace to kill.” 48 Gibran does not so much as hint at any kind of class patterns in this story. A poor man, it turns out, became a crimi – nal because of the miserliness and hard- heartedness of the people around him. In the end, however, the former pauper grows rich by plundering and Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 51 the formation of gibran’s romantic world-view becomes the ruler. Gibran condemns the nature of the man who is cruel to good, but poor and needy, people but who fawns on unjustly obtained wealth. “The Dumb Beast” 49 is the tale of a pitiful homeless dog. In effect the author recreates its thoughts and feelings and its fear of existence, wh ich is so joyless and difficult for it. This little story has much tendern ess and sympathy, but far more tragedy, as the parallel theme arises of the fate of many people whose lot is similar to the dog’s: “I, human being, am a helpless animal, but I find a like thing between me and many of your brothers in kind when they are no longer strong enough to gain their sustenance”. 50 The examples given above are characteristic of the Sentimentalist depic- tion of reality, in which society is forever divided into rich and poor. The author relates to the former with condescending admonition and to the latter with profound pity and sympathy. In essence, however, human rela- tions, like those of society, do not interest Gibran. People are understood as being either good or bad, righteous or evil, etc. There is [thus] much t hat is highly sensitised, and sometimes also dramatic, since the author, in analys- ing reality, sees no alternative and points only to evil. The same works also reveal another of the traits of Sentimentalism: the special role of the landscape. Gibran’s landscapes frequently depict concili- ation and radiant beauty, be it the hot rays of the sun or the soft light of the moon, aromatic flowers, the peaceful blue sky, the charming song of the birds, the gentle wafts of the breeze and so forth. Generally the landsc ape evokes a description of equally serene feelings: the reconciliation and grati- tude of life for the fact of its being as it is: The sun gathered up its garments from over those verdant gardens, and the moon rose from beyond the horizon and spilled its soft light over all. I sat there beneath the tree watching the changing shades of everything. I looked be yond the boughs to the stars scattered like coins upon a carpet of blue colour, and I heard from afar the gentle murmur of streams in the valley. “A Smile and a Tear” 51 In A Tear and a Smile a number of typically Romantic themes can be traced that had not been articulated so distinctly in Arabic literature prior to Gibran: the poet and his role in society, the grandeur and omnipotence of the human self, love and beauty, nature and its close relationship to man. Gibran’s experience of the English and American Romantics can be dis – cerned in both the theme and the stylistic aspects of many of his works. V. Markov is entirely correct in remarking that the book “represents to a certain degree the sum of Gibran’s searching in his early years, wh en the themes begin to appear that will occupy a pre- eminent position in the outlook of his mature period.” 52 One of the most important themes in the collection is that of the poet (“The Poet’s Death is his Life”, “The Poet”, “Night”, “A Poet’s Voice” Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 52 kahlil gibran and others), and this is clear evidence of the influence of the Western Romantics on Gibran. Many English and American Romantics associate the artistic realisation of this theme with problems of the self and of the intuitive knowledge of its truth. The essence of the heavenly and earthl y soul is incomprehensible to the rational mind and is not subject to ever yday experience. Emerson, therefore, considers that the principal instrument of cognition must be the imagination and insight of which only the poet is capable. It follows that the destiny of the poet is the mission of the v isionary, the announcer of truth, the prophet. Coleridge considered the poet to be a chosen one of God. Whitman called him a “prophet”. Wordsworth remarked that “the Poet binds to – gether by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society”. 53 For Emerson, the poet is greater than the theologian, and “stands among partial man for the complete man … who sees and handles that which others drea m of, traverses the whole scale of experience, and is representative of ma n, in virtue of being the largest power to receive and impart.” 54 An analogous understanding of the poet’s function, summoned into the world to bring love, truth and beauty into the life of mankind, is also found in Gibran. The poet, by his definition, is “a noble soul, sent by t he Goddess of Understanding”. 55 Further, A Link between this world and the hereafter; a pool of sweet water for the thirsty; […] An angel Sent by the gods to teach man the ways of gods. A shining light unconquered by the dark, Unhidden by the bushel Astarte did fill with oil; And lighted by Apollo. […] Alone, He is closed in simplicity And nourished by tenderness; He sits in Nature’s lap learning to create, And is awake in the stillness of night In wait of the spirit’s descent. A husbandman who sows the seeds of his heart in the garden of feeling, Where they bring forth yield To sustain those that garner. […] And you, O Poets, Life of this life: You have conquered the ages Despite their tyranny, Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 53 the formation of gibran’s romantic world-view And gained for you a laurel crown In the face of delusion’s thorns. You are sovereign over hearts, And your kingdom is without end. (“The Poet” 56) It is difficult to deny that Gibran’s understanding of the poet’ s calling is largely in agreement with the ideas of the Western Romantics. In Shelley’s view, poets see clearly not only the present, but also the future in the present. The same definition of the poet can be found in Gibran’s words: “That which alone I do today shall be proclaimed before the people in days to come. And what I now say with one tongue, tomorrow will say with many.” 57 The theme of the poet continues without significant changes throughout Gibran’s works. Sometimes the image of the poet takes on cosmic dimen – sions and the microcosm of the self becomes proportioned to the cosmos and harmonised to it. In the poem Night the poet writes of himself: I too am a night, vast and calm, yet fettered and rebellious. There is no beginning to my darkness and no end to my depths … 58 The poet does not set out as an artisan, working with the medieval yards tick and the ordinary tools of his trade (the lafz and the ma¡na, the word and the poetic motif), but rather as poetry itself in the flesh. There is no need to separate the poet’s works from the person himself, or to distingui sh the form and content in his poetry: Poetry is not an opinion expressed. It is a song that rises from a bleed ing wound or a smiling mouth. 59 A poet is a dethroned king Yet here the poet’s greatness is the greatness of the fallen angel, th at of the sovereign stripped of power. The origins of these images in the Satanism of Romantic poetry are hardly characteristic of the traditional concept of creativity in classical Arabic literature. Poetry is wisdom that enchants the heart. Wisdom is poetry that sings in the mind. A great singer is he who sings our silences. (“Sand and Foam” 60) These and other utterances highlight the special attribute of poetry as a mediatrix between two worlds – the secret and the evident, the ineffa ble and the commonplace. If the influence of Emerson’s Transcendentalist philosophy led Gibran to seek a divine origin in the poet, then thanks to Walt Whitman he learned also to see in the poet an earthly person who reflects upon the good o f humanity and strives for its future. Maurice Mendelson remarks that, for Whitman, the poet “is not only a composer of verse but also a prophet , Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 54 kahlil gibran paving the ways to the future”. 61 Whitman himself speaks of this more than once in his works, in particular in his “Song of Myself”: I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume … 62 It is true that for Gibran the poet remains primarily the high priest of beauty and truth (see below), but it is the poet, in his view, who is chosen to give people a guiding thread in everyday life and to maintain the ide al of harmonious existence. In his prose poem “A Poet’s Voice” 63 he writes: Strength sows within the depths of my heart and I harvest and gather ears of corn and give it in sheaves to the hungry. The spirit revives this small vine and I press its grapes and give the thirsty to drink. Heaven fills this lamp with oil and I kindle it and place it by the wi ndow of my house for those that pass by night. 64 However, the poet’s life only becomes meaningful when he feels himself un – derstood, loved and valued. “The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it”, 65 wrote Whitman in his preface to Leaves of Grass in 1855. He also expresses this in “By Blue Ontario’s Shore”: I am willing to wait to be understood by the growth of the taste of myself, Rejecting none, permitting all. 66 Gibran shows a view in common with Whitman in the following: Would that I were a well, dry and parched, and men throwing stones into me; For this were better and easier to be borne than to be a spring of living water When men pass by and will not drink. Would that I were a reed trodden underfoot, For that were better than to be a lyre of silvery strings In a house whose lord has no fingers And whose children are deaf. “My soul is heavy laden with its fruits” 67 One may also agree with the American scholar Joseph Ghougassian, who found a consonance between the views of Gibran and William Blake as regards the mission of the poet: “The poet – considered Blake and Gibran – is a man who … has a messianic mission in leading the people back to Truth.” 68 For Gibran the theme of the poet is indissolubly related to the feeling of loneliness. He repeatedly comments on the contrast between the poet and the reality that surrounds him. In his play Sulban he writes: “The artist Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 55 the formation of gibran’s romantic world-view – I mean a creative person who makes new forms for the expression of his thoughts and feelings – is always a stranger to his family and friend s, a stranger in his homeland and generally a stranger in this world.” 69 The same idea is also clearly sketched in his prose poem “The poet’s death is his life”. 70 A young and talented poet lives alone in a pitiful hovel, dying of hunger, for, as he says, “men have rejected me and cast me into the corners of forgetfulness”. The ages passed, and the people of that city remained in the stupor of i gnor – ance and folly. When they awoke therefrom and their eyes beheld the dawn of knowledge, they set up in the centre of the town a great statue of the p oet, and at an appointed time each year they held a festival in his honour. How foolish are men! In Gibran the theme of the poet is always accompanied by a disclosure of the author’s ethical and moral principles and his views on the wor ld, humanity and society. To a large extent these views overlap with the views and convictions of the Romantics. The theme of love and beauty, which occupies an important place in A Tear and a Smile (for example, in the poems “The Life of Love”, “Before the Throne of Beauty”, “The Queen of Fantasy”, “Secrets of the Heart” and “Song of Beauty”), is closely connected to the theme of the poet, and the two complement each other. The ideal of beauty and humaneness was always also the ideal of the Romantic artist. The English Romantic poet John Keats (1795–1821) s aid in his “Ode to a Grecian Urn”: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. 71 For the Romantics, art and beauty are synonyms. Art is counterposed to evil, deception and baseness. Shelley writes of this in his “Hymn to Apollo”: The sunbeams are my shafts, with which I kill Deceit, that loves the night and fears the day; All men who do or even imagine ill Fly me, and from the glory of my ray Good minds and open actions take new might, Until diminished by the reign of Night. […] I am the eye with which the Universe Beholds itself, and knows it is divine; All harmony of instrument or verse, All prophecy, all medicine, is mine. 72 In contradistinction to the Enlighteners, the Romantic poet links reason with intuition and feeling, that is, he copes with the world “artisti cally”, by means of inspiration, and breaks away from the commonplace outward appearance of existence, beneath which beauty hides. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 56 kahlil gibran Like the English Romantics, Gibran considered beauty as something general and ideal; like nature, so man is also suffused with beauty. Beauty is not the privilege of the noble or the wealthy, but “the sacred property of all humanity”. In “Song of Beauty” he writes: I am the abode of happiness And the source of joy. I am the beginning of repose. […] I am the poet’s imagination And the artist’s guide. I am teacher to the music- maker. I am the glance in the eye of a child Beheld by a tender mother. […] I am a Truth, O people, yea, a Truth. 73 The poem “Beauty” is also devoted to this idea: O you, who perish in the night of contradictions and drown in the depths of conjecture! For in beauty is truth, which denounces suspicion, drives aw ay doubt and shines with a light that protects you from the darkness of unt ruth. 74 For Gibran beauty is the kernel, the essence of living, a high and etern al truth. He considers nature to be the embodiment and symbol of beauty: “Beauty is all of nature”. The appreciation of beauty is as natura l as is the charm of nature. “Watch for the awakening of spring and the breaking of the morning, for beauty is the destiny of those who watch! Listen for th e song of birds, the rustle of branches and the murmur of streams, for bea uty is the portion of those who listen.” 75 Beauty is inseparable from the moral understandings of love and kindness: “Dedicate your body, like a temple, to beauty and dedicate your heart, like the altar, to love, for beauty is the worshippers’ reward.” 76 The perception of beauty elevates and ennobles the man and brings him to goodness and unselfishness. For the Romantics, love and beauty are that light of spirituality that il – luminates the heart and imagination of the poet. Emerson writes that the poet is an Aeolian harp that “trembles to the cosmic breath”, 77 that gives things their names and acts as beauty’s representative. People who are dis- tracted by everyday concerns frequently pass beauty by. The task of the poet is to halt their attention in front of it, for it is the prototype of tr uth (“The Queen of Fantasy”). 78 Accordingly, beauty is allotted a high position in the system of spiritual values. A further aspect of the theme of the poet in Gibran’s poetry is the exhortation of the Romantic self on Earth, its purpose in life and belie f in it. Ivan Fyodorovich Volkov writes: “It was Romanticism that opened for literature the self as such – intrinsic in value not only in the sense of the uniqueness of its individual characteristics, but also in the profou nd Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 57 the formation of gibran’s romantic world-view content of his character, and this brought art considerably closer to real human life.” 79 Gibran makes reference to the self with its Romantic understanding of the world in various prose poems, among them these from A Tear and a Smile: “The City of the Past”, “The Blind Force”, “Under the Sun”, “Song of Happiness” and “The Hymn of Man”. In “The Blind Force” the elements of nature break free and descend on mankind, which is helpless in the face of it, wantonly destroying everyt hing man had made with his own hands. And so it was, the while the grieving spirit looked on from afar, sorrowing and reflecting. It pondered upon the limited night of men before unseen forces, and sorrowed with the fleeing victims of fire and ruin. […] Yet did I find among these wrongs and misfortunes the divinity of man s tand – ing upright as a giant mocking earth’s foolishness and the anger of t he elements. And … it sang a hymn of immortality, saying: “Let the Earth then take what is to it; for I am without end.” 80 The poet proudly acknowledges the strength of man, the invincible streng th of his spirit that defies all the elements. This resonates with exampl es from Blake, Shelley and Whitman, such as this extract from Whitman’s “S ong of Myself”: This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look’d at the crowded heav en, And I said to my spirit When we become the enfolders of those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every thing in them, shall we be fill’d and satisfied then? And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond. 81 In the prose poem “Under the Sun” 82 Gibran takes for an epigraph the biblical saying “all is vanity”. The words of King Solomon, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit” 83 seem to him to be “born of weakness and despair”, for life has a purpose, while impassivity is akin to indifference. But people un- derstand beauty in the beautiful, wisdom in the wise and virtue in the j ust, and the poet considers that Solomon should repent of his efforts to depr ive people of belief in their own power. The Romantic belief that all in nature is in steady forward progress towards truth and beauty is expressed in the argument between the lyrica l subject of the poem and the wise man of the Bible: Now it is known to you that life is not as a vexation of spirit, nor tha t all under the sun is in vain; but rather that all things were and are ever marching towards truth. […] Well do you know that the spirit is going toward the light in face of the obstacles of life … 84 Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 58 kahlil gibran The forward movement of man is a path of unending learning, struggles and victories. And this requires that man overcome his past experience, which in Gibran is symbolised by the remains of a ruined city: “The City of the Past”. In this city the poet sees places of work sitting like great giants beneath the wings of slumber. And sanc- tuaries of words around which hovered souls crying out in despair – and singing in hope. I beheld temples of religion set up by faith and destroyed by d oubting, … meeting- places of knowledge illumined by wisdom and darkened by folly.The sight of the ruined city brings the poet to despair, but Life tells him he must depart and look instead for the City of the Future: Come, for only the coward tarries, and it is folly to look back on the City of the Past. 85 The image of man stubbornly moving forward towards unending know – ledge and to the “City of the Future” and the “Society of the Future”, and the theme of his eternal striving for physical and moral perfection, acc ord with the poetry of the Western Romantics, in particular of Blake and Whitman. Blake’s “The Everlasting Gospel” includes these lines: God wants not Man to humble himself: […] If thou humblest thyself, thou humblest me; Thou also dwell’st in eternity. Thou art a Man, God is no more, Thy own humanity learn to adore … 86 The same proud idea of the essence of Man can be found in Whitman: Long I was hugg’d close – long and long. Immense have been the preparations for me, Faithful and friendly the arms that have help’d me. Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like cheerful boatmen, For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings, They sent influences to look after what was to hold me. 87 In speaking about this trait in Romanticism, Oleg Rossianov remarks that seeing man as the crown of creation and art and literature as the highes t form of activity, the Romantics divined and affirmed the participation of the self and of literature in the great macrocosm and the small creative universe – and in the universe of the entire soul of man and of very being. It was the aesthet ic experi- ence of this co- belonging and co- involvement in society that was the source of the particular intensity of the Romantic perception of the world. 88 This statement may be fairly applied to the work of all Romantics, and t o Gibran in particular. His “Hymn of Man” opens and closes with the lines: I was, And I am. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 59 the formation of gibran’s romantic world-view So shall I be to the end of time, For I am without end. 89 The notion of the value of human existence – in unending striving “forward and upward” – is constant in Gibran’s work. Even ma ny years later, in his book Sand and Foam (1926), it can be found in the form of aphorisms: The significance of man is not in what he attains, but rather in what he longs to attain. 90 Humanity is a river of light running from ex- eternity to eternity. 91 In his poem “Gods” Whitman names Man as God directly: Thou, thou, the Ideal Man, Fair, able, beautiful, content, and loving, Complete in body and dilate in spirit, Be thou my God. 92 For Gibran also, Man is the “cornerstone of creation”, despite the tragic loneliness and misunderstanding he constantly feels. His lyrical hero pa s – sionately loves people, grieves over their fates and feels himself joine d to them by blood. In My Birthday: “I have loved all people – much I have loved them. In my sight people are of three kinds. One curses life; one blesse s it; one observes it. I have loved the first for his despair; the secon d for his tolerance; the third for his understanding.” 93 A sincere hymn of love for mankind can also be found in several pieces i n his later book The Forerunner (1920): My friends and my neighbours and you who daily pass my gate, I would spe ak to you in your sleep … I love the one among you as though he were all, and all as if you were one. And in the spring of my heart I sang in your gardens, and in the summer of my heart I watched at your threshing- floors. Yea, I love you all, the giant and the pygmy, the leper and the anointed, and him who gropes in the dark even as him who dances his days upon the moun tains. “The Last Watch” 94 All Romantics are united in the struggle for the violated dignity of the human, for his spiritual and social freedom. “As if organically, Blake’s entire work is permeated by the tragic theme of the physical and spiritual en – slavement of the person”, 95 writes N.Ya. D’yakonova. The same may be said of Shelley, although there are exceptions, such as his poem Prometheus Unbound, the principal theme of which is protest, defying all the dark forces that seek to belittle the free human spirit that will not be subordinate d. The Romantics saw the future as a society of free, happy people with equal rights. This is a characteristic and enduring theme in their poetr y. One gains the impression that Gibran is in agreement with their poetry, Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 60 kahlil gibran and in particular with Whitman’s “The Song of the Broadaxe”. In the great city of the future “where the slave ceases and the master of slaves c eases”, women have equal rights to men; those who are active in politics are the servants of the people. This is the city of “the faithfulest friends”. Here a world of natural citizens prevails, “where outside authority enters always after the precedence of inside authority”. In his utopia “A Glimps e into the Future” 96 Gibran also depicts an ideal world where equality, brotherhood, friendship and justice prevail; a society in which man attains his digni ty. He has been “lifted above smallness and raised above little things”. A similar happy future for mankind appears in Shelley’s poem “Queen Mab”. This golden age of a happy, free and harmoniously developed state of man is also described by other Romantics. There is not one work by Gibran that is not also a hymn to nature. In his approach to nature Gibran appears as an innovator. Nature does not serve in his works as a mere background but rather is invested with a persona of its own, as if to see, hear and comprehend all things by itself. The the me of nature is one of the fundamental elements in A Tear and a Smile. The collection includes a cycle of songs about nature – the song of the w ind, of the wave, of the rain, of the flower and of the seasons – in which the phe- nomenon of nature becomes animated and speaks. The wave sings a song: I and the shore are lovers: the wind unites us and separates us. I come from beyond the twilight to merge the silver of my foam with the gold of its sand; and I cool its burning heart with my moisture. Comes the ebb and I embrace my love; It flows, and I am fallen at his feet. “Song of the Wave” 97 The song is echoed by the torrents of rain: I am the silver threads The gods cast down from the heights, And Nature takes me to adorn the valleys. I am the precious pearls Scattered from Astarte’s crown, And the daughter of morning stole me to beautify the fields. I weep and the hillocks smile; I am abased and the flowers are lifted. I rise from the lake’s heart And glide upon wings of air Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 61 the formation of gibran’s romantic world-view Until I am a verdant garden. Thereon I descend And kiss the lips of its flowers And embrace its boughs. In the stillness, with my gentle fingers, I tap upon window panes: The sound thereof is a song known to feeling spirits. I am the sigh of the ocean And heaven’s tear And the smile of the field. (“Song of the Rain” 98) For Gibran nature is a sanctuary for lovers, a world of desired being, where the treasure house of the human spirit may be disclosed. Close to nature, man feels a kinship or oneness with it and finds gratificati on for his restless and lonely soul, and nature resonates to his interior world: One heavy day I ran away from the grim face of society and the dizzying cla- mour of the city and directed my weary steps to the spacious valley. I pursued the beckoning course of the rivulet and the musical sounds of the birds, until I reached a lonely spot where the flowing branches of the trees prevente d the sun from touching the earth. I stood there, and it was entertaining to my so ul – my thirsty soul who had seen naught but the mirage of life instead if its s weetness. “Before the Throne of Beauty” 99 For Gibran the sky is the “source of spiritual peace”, and all nat ure is the “haven of rest and tranquillity”. Here he is close to Emerson. “ Where do we find ourselves?”, asks the American poet in his essay “Experi ence”, and answers: “Nature causes each man’s peculiarity to abound”. 100 Gibran does not oppose “high nature to miserable humanity”, but ra ther sings the idea of a harmonious union of nature and man. The Arab scholar Ashtar writes: “In their works they [Gibran and Rihani] … brought u s closer to nature, to the point of merging with it.” 101 Gibran strove, as it were, to plunge into the secret of nature and to me rge with it in a single impulse. Like many Romantics he was a pantheist and considered man to be an organic part of nature; nature was the pledge fo r the eternal life of the spirit. Together with Emerson, Shelley and Coleridge, he highlights the kinship of the rule of nature and that of mankind and their common basis. The closeness and indivisibility of the ideas of “natur e” and “man” is particularly revealed in Gibran’s poem “O Earth” : Who are you, O Earth, and what are you? You are “I”, O Earth! You are my sight and my discernment. You are my knowledge and dream. You are my hunger and my thirst. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 62 kahlil gibran You are my sorrow and my joy. You are my inadvertence and my wakefulness. You are the beauty that lives in my eyes, the longing in my heart, the everlasting life in my soul. You are “I”, O Earth. Had it not been for my being, you would not have been. 102 A similar understanding of the unity of nature and human spirit is inher – ent in the English Romantics. Irina Neupokoeva writes: “The pantheistic world perception which is characteristic of all Shelley’s work is lin ked to the poet’s striving to overcome the rupture between philosophical mate – rialism and idealistic dialectics. It is from pantheism that Shelley’ s attempt to animate matter and to see enclosed in it some kind of special ‘living’, ‘acting’ force arises”. 103 In his poem “Song of Prosperine” Shelley emphasises the kinship of the dominion of nature and that of man with their common basis – Mother Earth: Sacred Goddess, Mother Earth, Thou from whose immortal bosom Gods and men and beasts have birth, Leaf and blade, and bud and blossom … 104 A similar idea appears in Coleridge’s “Hymn to the Earth”: Earth! thou mother of numberless children, the nurse and the mother, Hail! O Goddess, thrice hail! Blest be thou! and, blessing, I hymn thee! 105 For Whitman, man also merges with nature and plunges into its secrets: We are Nature – long have we been absent, but now we return; We become plants, leaves, foliage, roots, bark; We are bedded in the ground – we are rocks; We are oaks – we grow in the openings side by side… “We two – how long we were fooled” 106 Gibran’s poem “O Wind” 107 is permeated with belief in the inevitability and necessity of the unceasing renewal of life: Now singing and rejoicing, now weeping and lamenting. We hear, but behold you not; we feel your presence yet do not see you. You were as a sea of love submerging our spirits, yet not drowning us … You bear the breath of illness from city streets, and from the heights th e spirit of a flower; … Here do you tarry; there do you hasten. Thither you run, but you abide not. … Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 63 the formation of gibran’s romantic world-view Are you fickle as the ages …? You pass in anger across deserts and trample underfoot the caravans and bury them in graves of sand. … You fall upon the seas in assault and disturb the peace of their depths . .. 108 “O Wind”, in its mood, thematic content and even to a degree its compo- sitional form, is reminiscent of the well- known “Ode to the West Wind” 109 by Shelley, in which the poet emphasises the dialectic of destruction and creation. For both poets the symbol of this is the wind: O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being, Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing, Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, Pestilence- stricken multitudes: O thou, Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low, Each like a corpse within its grave, until Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air) With living hues and odours plain and hill: Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear! The idea of the unending and incessant renewal of life in nature can als o be seen in “The Life of Love”, a prose poem in which Gibran describes the changes of the seasons and likens them to the poet’s love. Spring mar ks the flowering of love, summer the ripeness of nature and the maturing of l ove, and autumn the presentiment of silence and the end of happiness: … for the leaves of the trees are become yellow … … for the birds have taken flight to the seashore … … for the brooks have ceased their flowing and the springs are no mo re, for the tears of their joy are dried up; and the hillocks have cast aside their fine garments. … For nature is overcome by sleep … 110 Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 64 kahlil gibran The arrival of winter and the spectacle of nature cheerless saddens the heart of the poet and he addresses his beloved with the words: Ah, my beloved one, how deep is the ocean of sleep! How distant the morning … in this night! 111 The sad tone of this work distinguishes it from Shelley’s “Dirge f or the Year”; it lacks the feeling of bright hope that runs through the latte r: January gray is here, Like a sexton by her grave; February bears the bier, March with grief doth howl and rave, And April weeps – but, O ye Hours! Follow with May’s fairest flowers. 112 While singing the beauty and greatness of nature, the Romantics were the first to touch on the negative role of urbanism and bourgeois civi lisa- tion in human life. Dmitry Urnov writes: “The Romantics were the first to discern, and highly perspicaciously, the disfigurement of the rapidly growing cities and the cost of bourgeois progress. Everything that has come to be a problem in the contemporary era was first pointed out by the Romantics.” 113 Of course these characteristics appeared uniquely and individually for each Romantic poet or writer. If Shelley and Byron ignored the patriarchal idyll, then for Wordsworth Romanticism was rural peace and quiet, a par – ticularly joyful and quiet love of nature and an unhurried reflection on it. “Nobody from among his contemporaries … advocated so insistently and passionately … that poetical union with nature that elevates and ennob les the soul.” 114 Wordsworth contrasted the capitalistic and industrialising world to the peasants with their naturalness and morals. He wrote of how to ennoble the soul in a letter to John Wilson in 1802: “by stripping our hearts naked and looking out of ourselves to men who lead the simplest lives and most according to nature, who have never known the false refinements, waywa rd and artificial desires, false criticisms, effeminate habits of thinkin g and feeling, or who, having known these things, have outgrown them”. 115 As a matter of fact, the aesthetic of city life was alien to all Romanti cs, and they contrasted it with the lives of simple people close to nature. Gibr an’s anti- urbanism also carries an expression of characteristically Romantic dis- satisfaction with the changes in human life that accompanied industrial de- velopment. Even in his early works Gibran hints at the idea of returning to nature. For example, in the story “Marta al- Baniyah” discussed above, the city represents the source of evil temptation and the false values of cu lture and civilisation, opposed to which is the village, embodying the natural ness of being: Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 65 the formation of gibran’s romantic world-view Those of us who have spent the greater part of our existence in crowded cities know little of the life of the inhabitants of the villages and hamlets t ucked away in Lebanon. We are carried along on the current of modern civilisation. We have forgotten – or so we tell ourselves – the philosophy of that beautiful and simple life of purity and spiritual cleanliness. If we turned and looked we would see it smiling in the spring; drowsing with the summer sun; harvesting i n the autumn, and in the winter at rest; like our mother Nature in all her moo ds. We are richer in material wealth than those villagers; but their spirit is a nobler spirit than ours. We sow much but reap nothing. But what they sow they also reap. We are the slaves of our appetites; they, the children of their contentment. We drink the cup of life, a liquid clouded with bitterness, despair, fear, weariness. They drink of it clear. 116 Other works devoted to this theme include “History and the Nation”, “Lament of the Field” and “The Abode of Happiness”. In the allegori – cal prose poem “History and the Nation” 117 the incursions of Western civilisation in the East are associated with the ruin of nature and mise ry for the labourers. A shepherdess (a metaphor for one of the Eastern countri es) addresses History, an old wandering man who represents progress in the Western sense: “What do you wish of me, History?” Then she pointed to her sheep. “This is the remnant of a healthy flock that once filled this valley. This is all that your covetousness has left me. Have you come now to sate your greed on that? These plains that were once so fertile have been trodden to barren dust by you r tram- pling feet. My cattle that once grazed upon flowers and produced rich milk, now gnaw thistles that leave them gaunt and dry.” 118 In A Tear and a Smile nature is almost always soft, tender and kind to ordinary people, who in turn love her and live in harmony with her. For Gibran nature symbolises the wholeness of the world, the meaning of life and the path to beauty, love and physical and moral perfection. In this his work resonates with that of the Western Romantics. We have already noted that individual depictions of nature in A Tear and a Smile are Romantic, with shades of Sentimentalism. Nevertheless, certain landscape sketches in the book reveal accuracy and rigour of vis ion. A similar co- existence of elements from different methods was also encoun – tered in considering other themes in the collection. The works included in A Tear and a Smile reveal the closeness of the Sentimentalist and Romantic principles in Gibran’s work, along with t he Romantic world outlook of the writer. An analysis of the book reveals his familiarity with the works of English and American Romantics, which is reflected in both the style and subject matter of his works. The glori fication of mankind, the exaltation and pantheistic view of nature, the admiratio n of beauty and the recognition of the special function of the poet and his r ole in society are all typical Romantic themes. There is, however, no distinct expression of social orientation; there is no passionate call to arms to change Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 66 kahlil gibran the social ills that are described, or the radical resolution of them, t hat is so characteristic of the English Romantics. Gibran, as a true Arab writer, is mostly concerned with spiritual problems. Romanticism as the fundamental method in Gibran’s work Towards the end of the 1920s and in the early part of the 1930s, Romanti- cism was established as the principal method in Gibran’s work. This p hase of his creative life is represented in his book al-¡Awasif (The Tempests, 1920). Two more of his works from this period, The Madman (1918) and The Fore- runner (1920), both written in English, are similar in subject matter and style to the first; we have nevertheless selected The Tempests because it most clearly demonstrates the signs of Romanticism, and because it became the best- known of the three among Arab readers. Almost all the pieces in this collection are adorned with Romantic sen- timents: motifs of rebellion, disdain for the world, a thirst for solitu de, a deep disappointment in the life of civilised society, a passionate hunger for nature, the rejection of the Church and its rites, a proud challenge to God and so on. The book also contains a variety of genres – essays, stori es and prose poems – in which some items are more extended in length. The id eas in this collection and the motifs of most of its works make it clear tha t not only did Gibran know the works of the English Romantics well but that he was also imbued with their ideas and attitudes. Most representative of the collection as a whole is the story “The Storm”, 119 whose basis is the characteristically Romantic problem of the re- lationship between the self and society, the conflict of the freedom- loving hero with the surrounding world that he finds unsatisfactory. “At the centre of Romantic art is the lonely individual who finds himself in confli ct with his environment” (A. Anikst); 120 “the Romantic hero is always alone” (B. Suchkov). 121 The intrinsic value of the self is what sets Romanticism apart from other world- views. This distinction is confirmed by other scholars, in particular A. Izergina: “This was the first artistic movement of the nine – teenth century in which the creative individual appeared distinctly as t he subject. In this sense Romanticism contradicts not only Classicism but a lso every preceding Western European movement. This is the first feature of Romanticism, its authentic and principal innovation.” 122 Furthermore, “in addressing the problem of the self and society the Romantics shif ted the emphasis onto the first component of this correlation, believing t hat the disclosure and affirmation of the human self and its perfection in all aspects will lead ultimately to the strengthening of the highest social and civic ideals.” 123 It should be noted that in “The Storm” and a number of other works, Gibran’s Romantic hero appears as a dreamer who has withdrawn into his Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 67 romanticism as gibran’s fundamental method interior world, and not as a fighter who dedicates himself to great de eds. His individualism does not take the form of rebellion; secluded in digni fied solitude, he opposes reality.The story is extended in length, which affects its form: the author himself divides it into small chapters. Only one image is given: that of Yusuf al- Fakhri, a rejectionist who has run away from people, the city and civili sa – tion to the bosom of wild nature. This immediately summons analogies with the character images of Romantic heroes who, rejecting the reality that sur – rounds them, strive to escape from it. These would include Byron’s Childe Harold and characters created by Victor Hugo, wrenched and outcast from their homeland, those heroes of Chateaubriand that cannot find their p lace in life, and indeed those of Shelley, thrown into worlds that are foreign to them. Such heroes either remain tragically lonely dreamers, or else thei r individualism takes the form of rebelliousness. The latter is particularly characteristic of Byron’s heroes: He did not follow what they all pursued, With hope still baffled, still to be renew’d; Nor shadowy honour, nor substantial gain, Nor beauty’s preference, and the rival’s pain: Around him some mysterious circle thrown Repell’d approach, and showed him still alone… (“Lara” 124) The main hero in “The Storm” rejects the reality around him, the society and the people and their morals: “In the thirtieth year of his life Yusuf al- Fakhri abandoned the world and all that is in it to live as a silent, as cetic hermit in that solitary cell at the edge of the Qadisha Valley on the north side of Mount Lebanon.” 125 Yusuf is entirely unknown to his neighbours, who do not know who he is, where he is from or why he lives in seclusion. His life is enveloped in mys- teries and riddles as befits a Romantic hero. One inclement, rainy aut umn day the narrator succeeds in meeting Yusuf. Despite the evident resistance and lack of hospitality on the part of Yusuf, the narrator succeeds in enter – ing his hovel. In his first sentences the hermit convinces his guest t o follow his example: “Now if you believe in the truth of what you say, abandon men with their corrupt customs and their worthless laws. Live in a remote pl ace and follow no law but the law of earth and sky!” 126 Yusuf then expresses his deep disappointment in people and their lives, and launches into a diatribe against them: “I fled from men because my char – acter was not compatible with their characters, my dreams did not agree with their dreams. I abandoned men because I found myself a wheel turning to the right among many wheels turning to the left.” 127 He left the city, the sight of which appeared to him hopeless and monstrous: “I left the city because I found it a diseased tree, ancient and strong, with roots deep in the dar kness of the earth and branches rising beyond the clouds, but whose flowers were ambition, evil and crime, whose fruits were care, affliction and woe.” 128 Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 68 kahlil gibran These words of Yusuf express practically the entire substance of the anti- urbanist theory of the Romantics. Yusuf seeks solitude not out of as – ceticism, not in service to God or by way of prayer. Rather, he is repulsed by a human society dominated by hypocrisy, sanctimony and ignorance, where arrogant rich men and politicians “play games with the hopes of natio ns and leave gold dust in their eyes and fill their ears with the echoes of w ords”, and where the clergy “exhorted men with counsels that they themselves did not follow, asking others what they did not expect of themselves”. He has therefore chosen to leave “that great and awful palace called civilis ation, that building with its fine architecture standing upon a hill of human skulls”. In his striving to escape to nature, to be far from people, in whose sou ls he sees only the darkest features, Gibran’s Romantic hero is close to the heroes of Byron – Lara, the Corsair and especially Childe Harold, who said: To sit on rocks, to muse o’er flood and fell, To slowly trace the forest shady scene, Where things that own not man’s dominion dwell, And mortal foot hath ne’er or rarely been; To climb the trackless mountain all unseen, With the wild flock that never needs a fold; Alone o’er steeps and foaming falls to lean, This is not solitude; ’tis but to hold Converse with Nature’s charms, and view her stores unroll’d. “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” 129 It is true that the English poet was expressing another transitional per iod, in which the dream of a future era of freedom and equality, which had been nurtured by the best minds of humanity, was discarded for a long time to come. Immense was the heat of Byronic disappointment in that age, in the impressions and experiences of being, as the poet writes: Kingdoms and empires in my little day I have outlived, and yet I am not old; And when I look on this, the petty spray Of my own years of trouble, which have rolled Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away. “Epistle to Augusta” 130 This explains his rejection of the social milieu that was his birthright ; hence also the scepticism of his Romantic heroes and his turning to nature: Fortune! take back these cultured lands, Take back this name of splendid sound! I hate the touch of servile hands, I hate the slaves that cringe around. Place me among the rocks I love, Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 69 romanticism as gibran’s fundamental method Which sound to Ocean’s wildest roar; I ask but this – again to rove Through scenes my youth hath known before.“I would I were a careless child” 131 These traits are absent from Gibran. His Romantic hero goes to nature primarily because that is where he finds “a life of spirit and thou ght, of heart, of heart and body”, where his soul is revealed with its concea led depths; and from this comes knowledge of the world, for that is equiva – lent to self- knowledge. Advocacy of a “life of the spirit” was a typical mark of Transcendentalism. Under the rule of nature Yusuf gives himself up to wakefulness, takes pleasure in reflection and undergoes a spiritual aw aken- ing. Yusuf considers the achievements of civilisation to be wholly useless, and calls Western progress yet another “manifestation of empty delusion”. He asks, “What are these inventions and discoveries except vices by w hich the mind distracts itself in moments of boredom and discontent?” 132 We can see that none of the European Romantics opposes the indus – trial achievements of the contemporary world. Even Wordsworth, who leaned towards the idyll of the patriarchal past, never spoke out direct ly against the technical progress of his time. And Gibran, unlike his hero, takes more realistic positions, closer to the people and their lives. He reasons as follows: “Yes, spiritual wakefulness is befitting to man – indeed, it is the goal of being – but is not civilisation, with its obscuriti es and am – biguities, one of the causes of spiritual awakening? I wonder how we are able to deny an existent thing when its very existence is evidence for t he truth of its right?” 133 This reflection indicates that the author is able to reconcile “spiritual awakening” with the acceptance of the achieve ments of civilisation. It is nevertheless interesting that Yusuf, while despising and rejecting progress and its achievements, does not deny certain of the benefits a nd pleasures that this progress brings. In his wretched hovel can be found good wine, fragrant coffee, aromatic cigarettes and delicious victuals. Despi te the insistent appeals to his visitor to “follow no law but the law of ear th and sky”, his way of life is far from ascetic. Undoubtedly “The Storm” is a Romantic work; the individualism of its hero expresses a rejection of the surrounding world and the denial of accepted norms. The particular relationship of Gibran to his Romantic hero should, however, be noted. Most importantly, the author does not himself intend to fully reject human society and does not express his ev ident antipathies to it, as do the Western European Romantics, especially Byron. Gibran does not reconstruct the Byronic experience in its entirety, with its complete rupturing of the hero from society and his unending disillusion- ment with it. And in solving the problem of the self and society, the Arab writer steps back from the extremes of the subjectivist anthropocentrism of the Western European Romantics. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 70 kahlil gibran In comparing Gibran to the English Romantics, we frequently note that his Romantic pathos and the intensity of his feeling, hate and passion appea r in a somewhat softened form. One possible exception to this is Gibran’s anticlerical motifs, which appear in his works with great sharpness and emotional charge. In the story “Satan”, 134 which deals with the philosophical problem of the necessary and inevitable eternal coexistence and struggle of the two absolute principles of good and evil, the author’s criticism is direc ted sharply at the Christian Church. The story goes as follows: out in the fields one day the theologian and clergyman Samaan encounters a crea – ture lying naked, dying of wounds. It turns out to be Satan, who has just been beaten by the archangels. When Satan confesses to Samaan who he is, the latter recoils in revulsion, fearful of defiling himself by to uching an unclean spirit. But Satan reminds the clergyman that the prosperity and livelihood of the servants of the Church depend on the existence of an unclean force: As a clergyman, do you not realize that Satan’s existence alone has c reated his enemy, the Church? That ancient conflict is the secret hand which removes t he gold and silver from the faithful’s pocket and deposits it forever in to the pouch of the preacher and the missionary. How can you permit me to die here, when you know it will surely cause you to lose your prestige, your church, yo ur home and your livelihood? 135 Satan also opens the clergyman’s eyes to a further truth: that Satan and the force of a struggle against God are necessary to people, since t his struggle is that which arouses activity, enterprise and energy – in a word, everything that promotes the development of the material and spiritual l ife of the people. In every city under the sun my name was the axis of the educational circle of religion, arts, and philosophy. Had it not been for me, no temples would have been built, no towers or palaces would have been erected. I am the coura ge that creates resolution in man. I am the source that provokes originality of thought. I am the hand that moves man’s hands. 136 The devil goes on to assert that he is necessary “for the preservation of mankind”: “If I cease to exist, fear and enjoyment will be abolish ed from the world, and through their disappearance, desires and hopes will cease to exist in the human heart. Life will become empty and cold, like a harp w ith broken strings. 137 In the subtext of the story is the image of a God estranged from man, wh o exists in the form of an indisputable truth and eternal force that requires submission and obedience, and thereby imprisons the freedom- loving and creative spirit of man. All the English Romantics are permeated by this same idea. For them man himself is divine, the centre of the universe; a nd all his activity is directed towards the knowledge of the universe and i ts Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 71 romanticism as gibran’s fundamental method subjugation. Blake writes of this with particular strength and purpose in his “Everlasting Gospel”: Thou art a Man: God is no more: Thy own Humanity learn to adore… 138 A.A. Elistratova suggests that “The subtext of his ‘Prophecy’ is the destiny of a humanity humbled, enslaved but yearning for freedom and happiness.” 139 A further observation can be made from this story. In “The Storm” Gibran sharply criticises the rites and ceremonies of the Church. For Gi bran the Church is a symbol of weakness in man: it appeared when the world seemed to humanity to be hostile and full of secrets, so that man himsel f felt vulnerable. Exploiting the ignorance of the people, the Church set itsel f up as mediator between them and the unknown forces of nature. Anticlerical – ism is a distinguishing feature of almost all émigré literature that developed under the influence of the ideas of the Enlightenment and Romanticism. This characteristic forms the typological kinship of the Syro- American School with the Romantic schools of Western literature, and simultaneously demonstrates the point of contact that existed between them. Neupokoeva comments that Shelley described religion as “a code of absurd superstitions upheld everywhere by the ruling class for the purpo ses of maintaining their power”. 140 A similar attitude to religion can also be found in Gibran. Even in his early stories “John the Madman” and “ Khalil the Heretic” the author angrily refutes the sanctimony and self- interest of religion. John, the hero of the first story, 141 is an honest and devout young man who discovers the greed and hypocrisy of the “servants of God” and their flouting of the sacred commandments when he allows his herd of calves accidentally to wander onto monastery land. He tries to explain t his to his parents, simple peasants, but they do not believe him and think t hat he has gone mad. The young man is put into confinement in the monaster y – thus do the clerics make short work of him. John cries out ferventl y: “You are numerous and I am alone. You may do unto me what you wish. The wolves prey upon the lamb in the darkness of the night, but the blood st ains remain upon the stones in the valley until the dawn comes, and the sun reveals the crime to all.” 142 The word “mad”, applied to John in the story mostly because of his “unusual” desires, can be understood in the sense of a synonym for independence from received norms of behaviour. “Khalil the Heretic” 143 continues the theme of “John the Madman”. The hero, Khalil, is raised from an early age in a monastery. There he is mercilessly exploited, subjected to beating and made to go hungry. Gradu- ally, however, his awareness awakens and he begins to understand that the monks tell lies, that they do not believe in God, that they live by labour and are later made destitute. Once Khalil begins to berate those around him with the truth, he is thrown out of the monastery in the middle of winter, naked and hungry and doomed to certain death. By chance he is Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 72 kahlil gibran found by two poor women, Rachel and Miriam, a mother and daughter. In the village where they live, the priest and the shaykh have deprived the m of their human dignity. Khalil, who remains in the village, then makes an inflammatory speech in front of the inhabitants, calling on them to ri se up against the shaykh and the priest and to gain a new life for themselves. Do you realize that this land you are working like slaves was taken from your fathers when the law was written on the sharp edge of the sword? That th e monks deceived your ancestors and took all their fields and vineyards when the religious rules were written on the lips of the priests? Which man or wo man is not influenced by the lord of the fields to do according to the will of the priests? 144 The peasants rise up and drive the shaykh and the priest out of the vill age. We have to assume that afterwards the land that had been taken away by th e clerics is returned to them, and that the peasants begin to live happily and free of oppression and violence. The Romantic ending of the story is lik e a hymn to justice and a call to rebellion and disobedience. In discussing the influence on Gibran of the English Romantics we have already mentioned that one of the Romantic motifs – the intensity of feeling, hate and passion – is subdued in Gibran; he is less radic al and less emotional. This does not apply, however, in the case of anticlericalism, which he expresses in his works with fullness and passion. This is no coinci – dence, since Gibran is a native of Lebanon, in which religious hostility held sway. The pressure exerted by the Christian Church on society was strong. Some stories and essays from the collection The Tempests (including “The Gravedigger”, “Slavery” and “The Captive Ruler”) would seem to contain the quintessence of the Romantic world- view. In some cases (for example “The Gravedigger”) their symbolism is complex. On the whole, the tone of these works is of desperation, hopelessness and sadness; they express one of the aspects of Gibran’s Romanticism – his conviction that man has the calling of a spiritual life and strives for moral perfection. This b rings him close to the Transcendentalists. Let us consider the brief story “The Gravedigger”. 145 The narrator describes how he walks at night along the “valley of life”, scattered with bones and skulls. On the bank of the “river of blood” he sees a terrible spectre that advises him to give up his literary pursuits and become a gravedigger. Then he would be able to rid “the few living of the corpses heaped about”, for they have been dead since th ey were born and there were none who would bury them. When asked how to dis- tinguish the living from the dead, the spectre replies: “Your illusioned eyes see the people quivering before the tempest of life and you believe them to be alive … dead creatures who tremble with the storm and never walk with it.” 146 Therefore, the most necessary and useful occupation for those still alive is to be a gravedigger, to bury the “living dead” and in this way to purify the earth. There is, however, no concrete explanation in the story of what one should understand by the term “tempest of life”. One would assume that Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 73 romanticism as gibran’s fundamental method this is primarily spirituality and self- knowledge, rather than the gratification of base carnal interests when, in the opinion of the author, the primordial purpose of man – reaching union with God – is forgotten. It is no coinci- dence that the spectre repeats: “we genii are the only possessors of reality”. The story expresses an aspect of Gibran’s Romanticism: his belief in the spiritual purpose of human life, for the life of man is the life of the spirit – the unending striving for perfection and awakening and the thirst for the new. The symbolism of the story is Romantic: life is an unending storm or struggle, in movement, an “obstacle race”. Calm, satisfaction a nd the absence of spiritual movement, on the other hand, are tantamount to deat h. The same deeply pessimistic attitude to the life of human society can be found in the essay “Slavery”, 147 in which the author fully denies the pos – sibility of free manifestation of the human self. This brief essay is a sharp criticism of slavery, which permeates all spheres of life and all interpersonal relations. The work thus begins: “Men are but slaves of life”. 148 Slavery ac- companies man from the moment of his birth, known for “seven thousand years”; it is “inherited from the fathers by the sons as they inhe rit the breath of life”. In the author’s view all people are slaves, regardless o f their social status, intellectual development or worldly position. Slavery prevails i n all countries: “from Babylon to Paris, from Nineveh to New York”. 149 By slavery Gibran understands the worship of God, idols, science or propert y; or an admiration for laws, traditions, force or power, or the following of the tastes of the masses: They fought and killed for it and called it “patriotism”. They sub mitted to its will and called it the “shadow of God on earth”. Then they burned their houses and razed their buildings at its will, and called it “fraternity” and “equality”. They strove then and made every effort for it, calling it “wealth” and “trade”. 150 The entire work consists of a pessimistic monologue permeated with despair. Humanity, Gibran considers, has known only two true “sons of Liberty”, but “One died crucified, one died mad”. 151 Undoubtedly Gibran is referring here to Jesus Christ and Nietzsche. “And none other was born”, he continues. Dolinina believes that if by this “son of Liberty” Gibran does not mean himself, then he considers himself all the same to be his forerunne r. 152 These stories, and also the story “The Storm”, have led certain scholars, both Soviet and Arab, to speak of Gibran’s receptivity at this stage to the philosophy of Nietzsche. 153 The philosophy of Nietzsche exerted an influ- ence on many writers and thinkers in the late nineteenth and early twent ieth centuries, both in Europe and the East, for example, the great Indian po et and philosopher Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938). 154 There is no doubt that Gibran was also influenced. To some degree Nietzsche’s conservative and Romantic views, as expressed in early essays such as “Morgenröte” (= “Day – break”), “Die fröhliche Wissenschaft” (“The Gay Science”) and “Jenseits von Gut und Böse”(“Beyond Good and Evil”), and his cult of a powerful self whose individualism overcomes the banality of bourgeois consciousness an d Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 74 kahlil gibran the Romantic idea of a “man of the future” who has left the presen t age with its vices and falsehood far behind, would have been close to his own outlook. Gibran undoubtedly took on certain features of the German philosopher’ s prophetic and messianic style. Nietzsche’s view on the Church and social institutions also turned out to be close to his own. Here we may draw on the research of Joseph Ghougassian: “From Nietzsche Gibran learned how to convey his ideas in a messianic overtone, while at the same time usin g a flammatory style for criticizing the organized religion and the social estab- lishment.” 155 A little later Ghougassian quotes the words of Gibran himself: “His [Nietzsche’s] form [style] always was soothing to me. But I t hought his philosophy was terrible and all wrong. I was a worshipper of beauty – and beauty was to me the loveliness of things.” 156 However, S.F. Oduev comments that Nietzsche’s main characteristic is his advocacy of strength and the strong individual, who possesses the ri ght to exploit the weak and even to eradicate them for the sake of consolida t- ing his strength. 157 Nietzsche believed that war cleanses humanity of the impurity of weakness and doubt and leads to the triumph of strength and the preservation of nature. What is particularly alien in Nietzsche for the Eastern Romantics, however, is his contempt and hatred for the “crowd”, and the opposition of “the crowd” to the “selected individual” and “the masses” to the “Superman” that is typical of bourgeois individu alist con – sciousness. Also foreign to Gibran is the glorification of the strong individ- ual who stands mercilessly and triumphantly on the throat of his victim. If Gibran also allows himself animosity and cruelty, as in “The Gravedigger”, then this is only intended to challenge the inertness of his compatriots , their fatalism and their indifference to the vices of society. Indeed, on the whole certain of his works (“The Storm”, “The Gravedigger” and “Slavery”) have a mood of hopelessness and sadness. Even when he shows open contempt for people and their civilisation, one can feel a longing for people and an immense pity for them, which changes into a fathomless despair and an unbearable sorrow. Gibran passionately loves and pities mankind. In the individualism and strong- man of the author is concealed his pain and suffering for humanity and his thoughts on it. Overall, Gibran’s path was complex. Ultimately his form of rebellion had a specific character that differed from that of the Romantics in Western lit – erature. This difference is most evident in the less- than- complete splitting of the Romantic person from society, in his conceptions of the prophetic role of the poet in the Arab tradition, and in the philosophical thought of G ibran himself. It should be noted here that certain of his works (such as “Defeat”, “The Eye”, “The Ambitious Violet”, “The Captive Ruler” and “O Sons of my Mother”) as it were refute the idea that the theme of the hero’ s complete break with society and the feeling of superiority over the crowd is not char – acteristic of Gibran. Certainly, the parable “The Eye” 158 can be interpreted as a hymn to Romantic rebellion, while “The Ambitious Violet” 159 glorifies self- sacrifice for the sake of self- perfection in order to become “like God”. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 75 the prophet: a new stage in gibran’s work A violet sees a rose, is astonished by its beauty and wants to become a rose herself. She addresses nature in a prayer, asking to be changed into a rose. Nature replies to her with a word of caution: “You know not what you are seeking; you are unaware of the concealed disaster behind your blind amb i- tion. If you were a rose you would be sorry, and repentance would avail you but naught.” 160 However, the violet gets her way and becomes a rose. Later a storm blows up and the violet that has become a rose is destroyed and her petals are scattered through the mud. The other violets, which have surv ived the storm because they grow low to the ground, begin to reproach her in an arrogant and facetious manner. But the violet replies to them: “I shall die now, for my soul has attained its goal. I have finally extended my knowle dge to a world beyond the narrow cavern of my birth. This is the design of L ife … This is the secret of Existence.” 161 One can detect notes in this story of a later neo- Romanticism and a Nietzschean enthusiasm. The collection The Tempests is entirely devoid of the marks of Senti- mentalism. Gibran’s work, influenced by the Western Romantics, has finally taken on the garb of the Romantic method. And this can be seen not so much in the individual motifs and themes as in the overall rebel – lious, protesting spirit of the collection as a whole. In terms of Roman ti – cism it presents a problem of the relationship of the individual to society, re- evaluates the role of civilisation, glorifies the individual and harsh ly criti – cises the Christian Church and its rites. While underlining the closenes s of Gibran’s Romantic hero to those of Western Romantics, we should point out their areas of difference: the degree of rebelliousness and rejectio n in Gibran’s heroes comes over in a far more subdued manner, as though clad in the dress of pacification. His Romantic hero is more lyrical and in clines towards abstracts. The link between the Romanticism of The Tempests and the traditions of classical Arabic literature can also be traced in such ele – ments as complex symbolism, an exalted style, the richness of metaphor a nd the presence of didactic elements. The Prophet : a new stage in Gibran’s work From among Gibran’s later works we have selected his book The Prophet (al- Nabi), because this work signifies the final stage in the development o f his creative method. Its theme is one of the most widespread in world li tera – ture. A prophet is frequently understood to be someone with a high calli ng, a poet or tribune who proclaims elevated and eternal truths. One may point here to John Milton and Blake in English literature, Ernest Renan in French, and Alexander Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov in Russian. Genea – logically speaking, the motif derives from the Old Testament legends of the prophets and from the Koranic account of the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet was written in English and published in New York in 1923. Not until after Gibran’s death was it translated into Arabic, b y the Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 76 kahlil gibran Archimandrite of Damascus, Antonius Bashir. In the Preface to his transla- tion Bashir writes: If we confined ourselves to merely the external appearance of religion , then one could call Gibran an atheist, and in that case I would be mistaken in tr anslating this book into Arabic. But this translator is not an atheist, and he exa mines the essence of the religion and not merely its exterior. If we approach Gibran and his works in this way, then it becomes clear that he stands at the head of the most faithful, but at the same time seeks the eternal truth without fear or d elusion and without the bustle and vanity of the world. 162 Bashir goes on to represent Gibran as a talented writer and innovator who was able to liberate himself from “blind imitation” and from “ the eyes of the past”. Here he quotes extracts from statements by Western cultural figures about Gibran, in which they speak with admiration and love for his person and his artistic mastery: “In years, Gibran is still a you th, but in his intelligence and artistry he is an elder”; “in Gibran’s wor k there is not a trace of imitation or stagnation. He is not an optimist but neither is he a pessimist. He is not a minister of religion, but nor is he an atheist. He is simply a prophet and clairvoyant, one who sings the hymn of eternal art. With the eyes of an Easterner he was able to see what we, inhabitants of the West, were unable to see”; “All of Gibran’s books urge the reade r to deep reflection”; “We are certain that the work of Gibran is immortal”; “Gibran has come close to the West, but there remains on his lips the lovely smile of the East”. Also quoted are the words spoken by Auguste Rodin after visiting an exhibition of Gibran’s pictures in Paris: “The world may expect much of this exceptional figure from Lebanon, from the William Blake of the twentieth century.” 163 In 1955 Mikhail Naimy, who after many years of close contact with Gibran knew him well, produced a second translation of The Prophet that came closer to the original. 164 This allowed him to assert that “ The Prophet is Gibran’s moral and ethical credo”. Naimy avoided a literal transla tion, and sought forms of expression that matched the spirit of the original. The idea for The Prophet came to Gibran early on. Work on the book began in 1918 and continued for more than four years. It contains the qu in – tessence of the writer’s world- view: his thoughts on life and death, on the essence and meaning of human existence, and on good and evil. The author embraces human life in all its complexities and depths, unified with, and mutually permeated by, the unending stream of life and by the unity of existence. In a letter to Mayy Ziyada, Gibran writes about The Prophet as follows: As for The Prophet – this is a book which I thought of writing a thousand years ago, but I did not get any of its chapters down on paper until the end o f last year. What can I tell you about this prophet? He is my rebirth and my first baptism, the only thought in me that will make me worthy to stand in the light of the Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 77 the prophet: a new stage in gibran’s work sun. For this prophet had already “written” me before I attempted to “write” him, had created me before I created him. 165 In The Prophet the author strives to move out of his individualism and to understand and express the thoughts and hopes of ordinary people. Every- thing that they feel and experience, the hero must feel and experience. In another letter to Mayy he wrote: “This book is only a small part of what I have seen and what I see every day, a small part only of the many things yearning for expression in the silent hearts of men and in their souls.” 166 Gibran’s mature and settled philosophical conception in The Prophet is matched by the completeness of the composition and the refinement of t he language. It is difficult to give this work an unequivocal definitio n of genre. It is at once a confession, a framed narrative and a philosophical essay in the form of a prose poem. The structural harmony and completeness of composition of The Prophet form a counterpoint to the simplicity, naturalness and compactness of the narrative. The content of the work can be summarised as follows: al- Mustafa, who has lived in the city of Orphalese for 12 years, awaits the ship that is to take him back to his homeland. Before the ship arrives, a crowd of men and women hurry towards him to see him off and ask him to speak to them before he departs. Al- Mustafa then leads them to the great square in front of the temple in the city, and addresses the people with his words of farewell. These form the entire body of the work. Addressing the people of Orphalese, al- Mustafa is aware of a sense of immense responsibility towards them and also towards himself. It is nece s- sary for him to speak about everything that he has comprehended in his depths and achieved, for the sake of the people. He asks himself, “Sh all the day of parting be the day of gathering? And shall it be said that my eve was in truth my dawn?” He begins to speak about love and marriage, about children, about houses, about clothing and eating and drinking, ab out work, about buying and selling, crime and punishment, friendship, good and evil, pain and pleasure, beauty, sorrow and joy; he speaks on religion and prayer, life and death, teaching and self- knowledge and other matters. Then evening comes and the ship draws near. “Farewell to you and the youth I have spent with you”, he says to the people of Orphalese, and then “he made a signal to the seamen, and straight away they weighed ancho r and cast the ship loose from its moorings, and they moved eastward.” 167 We should first remark that the image of al- Mustafa the Prophet, the teacher and visionary, corresponds precisely to Gibran’s Romantic under – standing of the Poet. His Prophet, just as the Poet of the Romantics and Transcendentalists, is called to express all that which other people expe ri – ence intuitively but cannot utter. As Emerson says: “The sign and creden- tials of the poet are, that he announces that which no man foretold. He is the true and only doctor; he knows and tells; he is the only teller of n ews, for he was present and privy to the appearance which he describes.” 168 Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 78 kahlil gibran The same is true of Gibran’s Prophet. Addressing the people, he says : “Ay, I knew your joy and your pain, and in your sleep your dreams were my dreams. And oftentimes I was among you a lake among the mountains. I mirrored the summits in you and the bending slopes, and even the passing flocks of your thoughts and your desires.” 169 In one of his letters to Mayy, Gibran wrote of the agonising struggle he underwent within himself in realising subconsciously that the poet can o nly become realised as such when he becomes the voice and mouthpiece of the people, the one who expresses thoughts and feelings: The Prophet, Mayy, is only the first letter of a single word … in the past I was under the impression that this word was mine, in me and derived from me; for that reason I was unable to pronounce the first letter of that wor d. My inability to do so was because of my illness, indeed the cause of my sou l’s pain and suffering. After that God willed that my eyes be opened so that I could see the light, and God willed that my ears be opened so that I could hear ot her people pronounce this first letter, and God willed that I should open my lips and repeat that letter. I repeated it with joy and delight because for the first time I recognised that other people are everything and that I with my se parate self am nothing. 170 Gibran’s Prophet cannot remain detached; it is only by merging with t he people that his significance as a unique figure is realised. A number of questions vital for man’s world- view are posed in The Prophet : freedom, life and death, good and evil and the essence and meaning of human existence. They are treated very briefly and with remarkable sim- plicity, when one considers the abstract character of the problems posed. They are all treated from a deeply humanist perspective and in the spiri t of high Romantic pathos, which calls man to a path of knowledge and per – fection. In seeking to penetrate these problems Gibran starts out from t he certainty that the human is the highest achievement of the creation, tha t his nature is deeply moral and that he has the potential to overcome the for ces of evil. On his approach to complete freedom man must above all overcome all that is false, which would detract from the principal aims of perfec tion and knowledge. And in order to become free, it is necessary to liberate oneself from base needs and wants. The Prophet says: You shall be free indeed not when your days are without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief, But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound. 171 In his discussion of man, his destiny and completion, Gibran, like the Transcendentalist poets, does not indicate a specific individual belong ing to a particular race, religion or social group, but speaks rather of a k ind of universal, a person free of any specific circumstances or conditions. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 79 the prophet: a new stage in gibran’s work Hope in the possibility of improving human nature and belief in spiritua l development are reflected in moral principles, the requirement of unco n – ditional integrity and the necessity of work. Speaking of work, the Prophet expresses a thought dear to the writer: that life is work, and to love l ife is to love work: And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life, And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret. 172 Man’s primary calling is to knowledge of life and the essence of bein g. But this is impossible without work: “And all knowledge is vain save where there is work”. 173 Gibran’s understanding of the necessity of work was an organic element among the progressive Romantics. We can point specifi – cally to Thoreau in his book Walden, in which he declares work to be the basis of life, and to numerous verses and poems by Whitman (“Song of the Broadaxe”, etc.). The basic premises of the Prophet coincide almost completely with those of the Transcendentalists, in the treatment of global questions relating to the existence of man and exalting him as the centre of the creation: Like the ocean is your god- self; It remains for ever undefiled. And like the ether it lifts but the winged. Even like the sun is your god- self … 174 We may recall Emerson’s statement: “Man carries the world in his head, the whole astronomy and chemistry suspended in a thought. Because the history of nature is charactered in his brain, therefore is he the proph et and discoverer of her secrets.” 175 Like Emerson, Gibran considers man to be the most important part of nature: “That which is you dwells above the mountains and roves with the wind.” 176 Or “But you who are born of the mountains and the forests and the seas can find their prayer in your heart”. 177 Gibran’s representation of the human is in permanent agitation, striving upwards, towards spirituality and the heights of unlimited knowledge: “ But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped a nd tamed. … For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of t he sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night.” 178 Religion in the book is not confined to the limits of Christianity, Islam or any other religion. In his preaching, al- Mustafa not only does not recognise religion with its external attributes, rites and priesthood, but also ma kes no reference to the independent existence of God. For him, religion and God are life itself; religion is found in the thoughts and deeds of people. Asked by the crowd what is religion, he replies: “Your daily life is your temple and your religion.” 179 Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 80 kahlil gibran The question of beauty and its essence, a favourite among the Roman- tics, is also examined in The Prophet. Understanding beauty as inspiration, intuition and an instinctive comprehending of the truth, Gibran gives an aphoristic definition: “Beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.” He repudiates all external attributes of beauty and regards it as the essence of life itself, from which the outer covering is shorn away: “Beauty is eternity gazi ng at itself in a mirror.” 180 Here again Gibran is close to Emerson, who considered beauty to be “the creator of the universe”. The Prophet also talks about everyday life, simple concerns: food and drink, housing and clothing, buying and selling, pain, joy and sorrow, giving and so on. In doing this he draws on the common experience, honed over centuries, and on profoundly moral traditional ideas. For example, he preaches moderation in eating and drinking and in clothes: And though you seek in garments freedom and privacy you may find in them a harness and a chain. Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your skin and less of your raiment … 181 When asked about buying and selling, al- Mustafa replies: And suffer not the barren- handed to take part in your transactions, who would sell their words for your labour. 182 On the question of giving, the Prophet again gives a purely folk concep- tion of “charity”: giving in response to the call of the heart, wi thout expect- ing either gratitude or a reward in heaven: “It is when you give of y ourself that you truly give.” 183 One’s attention is drawn here to the refined aphoris- tic character and specificity of aim of the Prophet’s speech. The addresses of al- Mustafa, his sermons and his desires contain not only the Romantic contemplation of the world of the Transcendentalists, which draws man into the sphere of abstract moral ideas, but also the concrete aspiration to share those things that are borne and suffered by the hero himself. The entire tone of al- Mustafa’s preaching is imbued with a deep respect for and goodwill towards people, for they have no menace, anger, coercion or intimidation. What is unique about Gibran the Romantic is that his hero appears much closer to the people than do the classic Romantic heroes. With his love for the common people and his proximity to them, his understanding of their everyday life and their needs, al- Mustafa is not only contrasted with the “crowd”, but also, as it were, merges with it. While the principal theme in Romanticism is that of the self and the crowd, and is formed ou t of sharp opposition and conflict, the Prophet expresses the thoughts a nd feelings of the crowd and is always ready to come to its aid like a wise and devoted friend. The attitude of the people to the Prophet is in accordan ce with this: he is always surrounded by an atmosphere of kindness, love an d respect. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 81 the prophet: a new stage in gibran’s work In his farewell speech al- Mustafa speaks of his deep commonality with all people: “And your heartbeats were in my heart, and your breath was up on my face, and I knew you all.” 184 The confessionary character of the poet’s address to the people is un – characteristic of Romantic literature. Furthermore, in The Prophet Gibran acknowledges that he is called not only to devote himself to the people and to teach them, but also, necessarily, to learn from them wisdom, optimism and patience: “I came to take of your wisdom … it is a flaming sp irit in you ever gathering more of itself … You have given me my deeper thirsting after life.” 185 It may seem at first sight that the image of al- Mustafa might to some degree resonate with that of the prophet from Nietzsche’s book Also Sprach Zarathustra . We would point out at once that the humanistic and demo – cratic pathos of the Arab writer’s work differs sharply from the nihilistic and all- destroying tenor of Nietzsche’s book, and we can find nothing in common between these two characters whatsoever. The teachings of al- Mustafa are not in any way contiguous with those of Zarathustra. The positive side of the latter’s message is his blistering criticism of the Church and the foundations of bourgeois culture, which are absent in Gibran’ s work. Gibran’s positive hero, meanwhile, liberated of anything supernatural , has nothing in common with the “Superman” of the German philosopher. Something in common can be seen between the image of al- Mustafa and that of Christ in Ernest Renan’s Vie de Jésus (The Life of Jesus). This is expressed primarily in the attempts by both writers to reach a moral ide al. Renan found this ideal in Jesus Christ, in his idea of love, all- forgiveness and belief in the principle of the basic good of the human person. Gibra n also took these moral principles as the basis for his hero, the Prophet. Into the mouth of al- Mustafa he puts the idea of selfless love, which can bring people together: Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself. He threshes you to make you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until you are pliant; And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God’s sacred feast. 186 It should be noted that there was a certain period during which the imag e of Christ occupied Gibran’s creative imagination in a number of his w orks, such as “Eventide of the Feast”, 187 “The Crucified” 188 and Jesus the Son of Man (1928). 189 Gibran embodied in Christ his belief in the ideal that was intended to become the symbol of “truth and freedom”. A number of Arab scholars of Gibran believe that he would not have become an artist had he lost his belief in this ideal. In particular, ¡Abd al- Karim Ashtar writes: “His belief in Christ prevented Gibran from Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 82 kahlil gibran completely rejecting religion and becoming an atheist. And had he lost that belief and those convictions … his rebelliousness and extremism w ould be without aim and his activities would end in spiritual ruin, as occurr ed with Nietzsche. And, like Nietzsche, he would have created for himself an abstract Superman.” 190 In Gibran’s works Christ is a real person, a martyr and a rebel, who struggles for the high ideals of goodness and love. “The Crucified” is for him the herald of high justice and true humanity. Gibran’s Christ “never lived a life of fear, nor did He die suffering or complaining”, 191 but rather “He lived as a leader; He was crucified as a crusader; He died with a heroism that frightened His killers and tormen – tors”. 192 The author represents him not as “a bird with broken wings”; rather, “He was a raging tempest who broke all crooked wings”; 193 he came to send forth upon this earth a new spirit, with power to crumble the fo undation of any monarchy built upon human bones and skulls. … He came to demoli sh the majestic palaces, constructed upon the graves of the weak, and crush the idols, erected upon the bodies of the poor. … He came to make the human heart a temple, and the soul an altar, and the mind a priest. 194 The Prophet should not be understood as something unusual that is out of line with the general principles and logical development of Gibran’s previous work, but rather as the concluding phase in his natural and logical movement. In The Prophet the Romantic conception of belief in the human being is joined to the conviction of the possibility of his mo ral resurrection. Gibran’s Prophet is an exceptional individual whose intrinsic self- value is interior, but this does not place him in opposition to the surrounding world. The purpose of his teaching is not “to humiliate the people and elevate himself”, but instead to reveal to them the deepest truths. There is no divid – ing wall between him and the people; he does not consider himself superi or to the “crowd” and has no disdain for anybody. The essence of the image of the Prophet is what Volkov called “the profound meaning of the character of the individual”, who lives not merely as the life of the soul and heart, but also in the life of the people around him. This determines the evolution of Gibran’s Romantic creativity towards actual reality and characterises his inclination to simplicity and clarity. Our observation on the complexity of Gibran’s approach to the problem of the hero versus the crowd, which is fully revealed in The Prophet, can also be justified in relation to later devel- opments in Oriental Romanticism. The demand in Gibran for complete human liberation, his hatred of slavery, his idea of the interdependence and interlinking of the phenomena of life and human actions, and his ideas of love and belief and the prin ciple that goodness and justice are inherent in man, bring the writer’s position close to the philosophical ideas and principles of the Romanticism of th e Transcendentalists, in particular Emerson. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 83 the prophet: a new stage in gibran’s work In terms of subject matter The Prophet is continued to a degree in the later The Garden of the Prophet (1933, published posthumously). 195 This book describes the arrival of al- Mustafa on his native island and his reception by its inhabitants. For forty days he retreats to the garden where his hous e is situated and where his ancestors are buried. After this, students and in hab- itants of the island come to see him, and he addresses them with homilie s and guidance. The Garden of the Prophet is closer to a philosophical treatise; its dis – cussions are more abstract and cover general philosophical questions – the essence of matter, of forms and of existence, etc. Rarely in this book does al- Mustafa directly address the people, and he almost never touches on their worldly everyday needs. His preaching is in fact closer to a self- absorbed confession. However, both works are imbued with the idea of the unity of the prophet and the people. In philosophical terms The Garden of the Prophet reaffirms and develops the same optimistic conception as does The Prophet: the life of the universe is eternal, and man is its most important manifestation, whose grandeur is unfathomable. The self of man is that “which is for ever the deep cal ling upon the deep”. Later in the work he adds: “I teach you your large r self, which contains all men”. 196 The idea is also further developed that the essence of the being of an individual self consists in the knowledge and degree of completion of that self. The common subject matter and philosophical basis of the two Prophet books also gives rises to a number of repeating symbolic images. For example, in both works the universe is likened to the ocean, and the lif e of each person to a stream or river that is finally united with that ocea n. The image of the mist and the crystal also recurs, symbolising the infinit y of matter and the image of endlessly unfolding life, represented in the see ds of plants and the human generations. Both works carry the motif of the unit y of man and nature. Something of a departure from The Prophet is the development of the theme of “being”. Here, “being” is considered not solely fro m a philosophi- cal perspective but also in terms of human life and the relations between the various lines of work: thus, “to be” is to be a weaver, a builder, a ploughman or a fisherman, etc. In The Garden of the Prophet Gibran also touches on issues that concern the life of the Arab nation in general. These are his Romanticised under – standings of various principles attributed to the East and the West. On the one hand, he blames the West for its exploitation of the East, and on the other hand, he blames the East for its failure to act, its submissivenes s and its humility. Generally speaking, The Garden of the Prophet continues the ideas of love and goodness and of mutual understanding and tolerance. This work not only maintains the principle of moral didactics of The Prophet, but also introduces new elements. From an artistic point of view, however, in our Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved. 84 kahlil gibran opinion – in terms of the completeness of the subject, the belief in, and valuing of real life, and the clarity and precision of the language – The Prophet is clearly superior to the second book. Gibran’s creative method formed unusually quickly. Beginning with Sen- timentalism, and mastering many of its achievements, he made his contrib u – tion towards the establishment of Sentimentalism within Arabic literatur e. His story Broken Wings and several short stories (such as “Marta al- Baniyah” and “Warda al- Hani”) possessed, in addition to their intimate and contem- plative subject matter, a social relevance, and in artistic and stylistic terms were to a certain degree enriched by Romantic tendencies and elements. The transition from Sentimentalism to Romanticism did not involve, in Gibran’s case, a long incubation period. This would seem to be explained by the fact that throughout his creative life there were no great change s in the subject matter and problematics of his works. The themes of freedom, beauty, love and the value of the individual and of nature permeate all the author’s works. After 1914, Gibran’s work runs along a Romantic course ( A Tear and a Smile). In the early twentieth century Gibran became one of the leading Romantics of Arab émigré literature ( The Tempests, 1920, The Prophet , 1923). The legacy of the Western Romantics, and in particular of the Lake School and the American Transcendentalists, was one of the primary sources for Gibran, and his assimilation of this legacy enabled him to establish and develop the Romantic method in his own works. Imangulieva, Aida. Gibran, Rihani & Naimy : East–West Interactions in Early Twentieth-Century Arab Literature, Anqa Publishing, 2010. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bmcc/detail.action?docID=588815. Created from bmcc on 2020-03-15 08:44:26. Copyright © 2010. Anqa Publishing. All rights reserved.

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