Dhaka, Tuesday, 16 July 2019
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Remembering Kahlil Gibran

Feature Desk
Published on : 06 January 2019, 08:11 AM
Remembering Kahlil Gibran

Philosopher, poet, painter, essayist and novelist Kahlil Gibran was born in Lebanon on January 6, 1883. He was recognized as one of the most important writers and poets of the twentieth century. He "represents the brightest aspect (of Lebanon) in the world," said Lebanese poet Henri Zgheib. His bestseller The Prophet (1923) is considered one of the 100 most important literary works in the world.  He passed away on April 10, 1931, in New York.

Gibran was born into a poor family in the Christian village of Becharré, on the Lebanese mountain, in the Ottoman Empire. At the age of twelve, he emigrated with his mother Kamilah Rahme, two sisters Mariana and Sultanah, and his half-brother Boutrous in Boston. Three years later, in 1898, he returned to Beirut to learn classical Arabic and French at the College of Wisdom (Madrasat al-Hikmah) where he spent four years. Then he left for Boston in 1904 where he met two people who decisively changed his life and career. Mary Haskell (1873-1964) became his confidante and patron. She was thought to be engaged in a romantic relationship with Gibran. However, the relationship between them was never physically consummated or could succeed as her family objected. At one point, Gibran called it off. Despite getting married to another man, Haskell continued to support Gibran to shine in his career. She even supported him financially. On the other hand, the American photographer and publisher Fred Holland Day (1864-1933) helped him in organizing his first exhibition in Boston.

On July 14, 1908, he arrived in Paris and stayed there for two years. He attended the Académie Julian, rue du Dragon, the School of Fine Arts, where he attended classes of Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921) and befriended the French symbolist painter Pierre Marcel-Béronneau (1868-1937). During his stay in Paris, he met Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) in 1909 and exhibited his painting L`Automne in 1910 at the Salon du Printemps in Paris. He returned to America on October 22, 1910, stayed for a year in Boston, then moved to New York to stay there until his death, till 1931. The reason for his death was cirrhosis of the liver and tuberculosis. Because of heavy drinking, during or after the publication of his bestseller The Prophet, he got cirrhosis. During the last years of this life, he did not want to come out of his room and locked himself in. He did not show up for any visitors and drank all day. His last wish was to bury him in his motherland Lebanon, which was fulfilled by his confidante Mary Haskell.

Today is his 136th birth anniversary. The world still remembers him with great respect and holds cultural programs and discussions in his commemoration.

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