Review: The Prophet

“The murderer is not unaccountable for his own murder,
And the robbed is not blameless in being robbed.” ~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
96 pages
Published by Knopf, 1923
Genre: Spiritual fiction
Rereadability: I can’t think of a reason why I’d ever pick this one up again, let alone keep it in my library
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed by Pete
Spoiler-free review

This book has been sitting on my t0-read shelf for years, probably almost a decade. Though I am not a religious or spiritual person, I have enjoyed books like Richard Bach’s Illusions and Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha.

However, the views of Gibran and his prophet narrator (also Gibran) were too alien for me to find any meaning in this book. And there were too many drawings of butts.

Here’s a quote from when red flags were really starting to fly up in my head:

“The murderer is not unaccountable for his own murder,

And the robbed is not blameless in being robbed.”

Is this really what Gibran believes? Is he suggesting that no victim is blameless? I don’t need to point out examples, but this simply isn’t the way the world works and is not a remotely interesting idea. My main issue with an idea like this is that it seems to speak for 100% of cases. And this is how Gibran approaches all issues. He says “This is the way this thing is, totally and completely.” This logic falls apart quickly when you start thinking of different examples.

He later talks about making a home. Surely he can’t have anything too inflammatory to say about creating a place to live and eat and sleep in, right?

“Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.”

Then there’s a drawing of a clenched butt a few pages later.

I won’t be like righteous Gibran and his inflexible blanket statements and say that I disagreed with all of his ideas. But I did disagree with a lot of them, not only because they differ from my personal views but because there was no explanation behind them.

I have never had a religious experience, but I imagine it would take a lot of them to start thinking of yourself as a prophet. Gibran is writing from a strange place that I can’t begin to understand.

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