Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Prophet

This is a book, I pick up every three to four years. It is a very short, but satisfying read. Before jumping to the main bulk of this review, a quick bit about the edition I was reading.

Its the Pan Macmillan edition 1991, with a green cover and some font, which looks like it should be saying Lords of the Ring. For some reason, the text inside is double lined and the illustrations are not reproduced that well. I bought it, as I fancied rereading it there and then, and the only other two versions in the shop was a Penguin Classic version at £8 and a hardback illustrated version at £20. This cost me £5, which is a bit steep for the quality - there are not even the chapter headings. 

Onto the book itself, it is one of my favorite things I have ever read.

The Prophet has lived in a city called Orphalese for twelve years, awaiting for a ship to take him back to his land of birth. He has come to love the city and is sad to be leaving. As he makes his way to the ship, the people of Orphalese come out to meet him. They love him, as much as he loves the city, and the priestess asks him to speak to them all, which he does. He answers their questions on such things as Love, Death, Good and Evil, Time and Religion.

Whilst there are many a good saying in the book, its not actually the philosophy side that is my attraction. I like my philosophy a bit more Stoic, and recently, I'm enjoying getting confused by dualism. However, what I do like, is the land that is created in The Prophet. I can visualise it very very clearly, and as The Prophet answers the questions from the people, the place of Orphalese becomes very real.

It is also, very beautifully written. Kahlil Gibran considered this to be his greatest achievement. He said: "I think I've never been without The Prophet since I first conceived the book back in Mount Lebanon. It seems to have been a part of me... I kept the manuscript four years before I delivered it over to my publisher because I wanted to be sure, I wanted to be very sure, that every word of it was the very best I had to offer."

It has an almost biblical type meter (I know there is a posh word for this, but it escapes me) but a lot more musical in its delivery, which makes reading this effortless, and a pleasure.

The hard line Dawkinist out there, might be put off from reading this, as the word God is mentioned a few times. There will also be a few who will be put off, as it sounds a bit Dirty Filthy Hippy - I was originally. I would, however highly recomend reading this, no matter what your beliefs are. It is very universal in its appeal.

The Prophet - Amazon Link
Online Version(Text only)
Online Version(With the original illustrations)

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