Gibran Kahlil Gibran (1883–1931), usually referred to in English as Kahlil Gibran, was a Lebanese American writer, poet and artist. Though many consider him a philosopher, Gibran himself rejected that label. He is most widely recognized as the author of The Prophet, one of the most translated and bestselling books of all time.

Reproduced here is an early English draft of Gibran’s The Prophet, which was published by Alfred A. Knopf in New York City in 1923.

The book, also published in Arabic in Cairo at the same time, is a collection of 26 prose poetry fables. Telling the story of a prophet named Al Mustafa, the work is divided into chapters dealing with topics such as family and marriage, crime and punishment, and reason and passion.

Though initial reception to the work was cool, its popularity grew markedly in the 1960s when it was picked up on by the American counterculture. Popular artists like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash proudly owned copies and made reference to the work in their own lives and music!

Since its publication in 1923, The Prophet has gone on to be translated into more than 100 languages and has never been out of print. The handwritten draft we have reproduced here comes from the holdings of the Princeton University Library’s Special Collections, Manuscripts Division.

We are honoured to add this monumental work to our Embellished Manuscripts Collection.

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