I always feel an overwhelming sense of inherent bias while reading classics. It comes from a place of self-doubt honestly – How is this book supposed to make me feel? What if I don’t like the popular lines? What if I don’t like the book? Am I the stupid one for not understanding a deeper meaning behind what appears to me to be a simple book, albeit well written?
This is partly what happened to me while reading The Prophet. It’s hard to avoid the bias when you start reading a book that has been so popular, that it hasn’t been out of print in nearly the 100 years it has been in print. Simply written, the book has a plethora of beautifully written verses that’ll leave you stunned and make you grapple with pre-existing notions about certain values and emotions. Khalil Gibran explored many philosophies and religions over his lifetime, and the incoherence and lack of uniformity in his opinions reflect that. It might also help to cross relate his work with the context he would have worked i.e. the early 1900s.
In a book that takes strong stands on values and virtues, it’s hard to not have polarised reactions. Your opinion would ideally jump from either ends of the spectrum, and leave you wondering about Gibran. Perhaps that’s when you ought to remind yourself, that poets, authors, and artists in general are people…just like the rest of us. Flawed, damaged and yet aspiring to be the best version of themselves.
Reading this book made me experience emotions by telling me exactly what it wants me to think about it. The jury’s still out on how that model would work with individual readers, but the book contains some beautiful gems in the form of prose verses, some of which are attached to this post.
Cross-Posted on The Standing Coin