Gibran Khalil 1883 - 1931 (48)

Desire is half of life; indifference is half of death.







Khalil Gibran, the man from Lebanon, as he is known, was a painter, writer, poet and philosopher. He was born on January 6, 1883, to a Maronite family in Basari, a mountainous region in northern Lebanon. Mount Lebanon at that time was a province of the Ottoman Empire and its inhabitants were fighting for their independence and at the same time were fighting among themselves as there was hatred between Muslims and Christian Maronites. Khalil became an active member of the independence movement while by nature he was a lonely child who was isolated for hours in the rocky natural environment of the area. His father lost all their property and there was no money to go to school, he learned the basics of language and alphabet as well as religion from the village priest.

In 1894, his father was in prison for debts and the rest of the family was living with relatives as their home was confiscated, so his mother, who was a dynamic woman, decided to move to America. In 1895 they were leaving in Boston without the father who had been released but he was not given a visa because of his past. HIs mother worked in America as a gyrologist, she was walking all day to sell things and feed her children, of whom only Khalil managed to go to school. His sisters did not learn letters because there was a lack of money and because the tradition in their country did not favor the education of women. Khalil later became a staunch supporter of women's education and emancipation. He began to paint and write, first becoming known for his sketches, but decided to return to his homeland in 1898 to learn Arabic and remember his roots. He went to school there and learned Arabic and French, but lived with deprivation and constant conflict with his father, so in 1902 he left for America again.

The first two years of his return were full of grief as his mother, a sister and a brother died, and also the woman he was in love with, she refused to marry him. In 1904 he had an exhibition of his sketches which was quite successful in Boston society. At the same time he wrote a romantic essay in English, started a newspaper column entitled "Tears and Laughter" and wrote the work "Music" in Arabic. In 1908 he wrote "The Nymphs of the Valley", a work with anti-clerical content for which he was almost excommunicated and which was banned by the Syrian government. During the two years 1908-1910 he lived in Paris where he attended painting classes and on his return went to New York.

In 1913 he wrote the novel "The Madman", in 1915 he published another Arabic-language book, while he was working feverishly on the work "the Prophet", which made him world famous and which he worked for many years until its final form was published in 1923. Then he wrote the sequel, "The Garden of the Prophet", while in 1928 his health was shaken and to escape the pain he consumed large amounts of alcohol, the time of the prohibition during which the alcohol supplied is illegal and of poor quality . He died on April 10, 1931 from extensive cirrhosis of the liver.