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“And I Too Am My Own Forerunner”: My Reading of Kahlil Gibran

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Item Code: UBJ603
Publisher: Notion Press
Author: Indrani Chaudhuri
Language: English
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 9781649519597
Pages: 266
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 340 gm
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Book Description
About The Book

Predicated upon the towers of collapse, while T.S. Eliot, the representative modernist, in order to re-construct his culture out of the debris of its imperialist past, concluded his Waste Land (1922) by looking Eastward, into the all-pervading "shantih" of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese American, authored The Prophet (1923) to deconstruct such enterprise and retrieve a culture that was swirling in-between Darwinian metaphors and Nietzschean Nihilism. He who was exterior to the 'omnipotent definitions' of the West, saw in "Beauty" the "eternity gazing at itself in a mirror." So, to him, "you are eternity and you are the mirror." This book is a reading of Kahlil Gibran's life and works: his life as a text and his works as the terrains of a never-ending journey. It opens up those fissures and ruptures that make Gibran and his writings relevant vis-à-vis the socio-political, cultural and religious urgencies that the world is grappling with today. Often misconstrued as a mystic or an Oriental Wise Man, Gibran dwells in an amorphous placeless-ness within the academic space and outside of it. "Forerunner" in its own way, this book, by unfolding the process of 'reading' as a mode of travelling, subverts such stereotypes and tries to reveal to the readers that 'outlandish' lonely intellectual who, through his works, fashioned a self and a land 'out of place, rather in a 'non-place, for dismantling and up-setting monolithic cultures and their decadent notions.

About the Author

A graduate from Lady Brabourne College, Calcutta, the author has a postgraduate degree from the University of Calcutta, M.Phil from Jadavpur University, and a Ph.D degree in English Literature from the University of Calcutta. As a Fulbright Doctoral Fellow (2007-08) who was affiliated to the Department of Comparative Literature, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Indrani Chaudhuri belongs to a family that has made significant contributions to the academic and cultural heritage of Bengal.

Presently a permanent faculty in the Department of English, Vidyasagar University, West Bengal, Indrani has contributed numerous research articles and essays in well-known journals and newspapers. One of her research-papers has been archived at the Kahlil Gibran Collective Digital Archive. Apart from intensive academic research she passionately advocates Human Rights and Gender Justice and writes extensively on these topics.

Having twenty years of experience in teaching and research within the rubrics of several colleges and a University, she has, now, turned to such writing that would remain the articulation of her soul and the sanctuary of her mind.


This book, branching off from my PhD thesis, has its genesis in a paper I presented in 2002, in a seminar at Jadavpur University, on Immigrant Literatures in the US. I was the only scholar to speak on Arab American literature-particularly on two early twentieth century Lebanese American writers Ameen Rihani and Kahlil Gibran - that too post 9/11. In the US, after the incident of terror in 2001, much attention had been directed towards Arabic Studies and Arabic writers. But in India few such projects have been taken up, even after continuous terrorist attacks often thought to be triggered by a particular religious community that is supposed to have its roots in and close associations with Arab geo-politics and its culture.

Given this context, when I started my research for the seminar paper almost 20 years back, I realized that about Arab immigrant writers much remains unarticulated and needs to be articulated. I was mainly drawn towards the works of Kahlil Gibran a Lebanese who immigrated into the United States in the last part of the nineteenth century and died there in 1931. Despite my non-Arab and non- American identity, I decided to pursue my Ph.D. research on Gibran as by that time I had already known that he was one of the most prolific bilingual writers of the twentieth century. This travel, however, was not easy. Western biographers of Gibran and critics of his works, caught within the Orientalist gaze, have seen in him a mystic and an Eastern prophet thereby highlighting the exotic features in his life and work. I realized that as a scholar, trying to operate outside the ambit of the West-East binary, it is necessary to historicize his works through current critical discourses and release him from that Orientalist scholarship that sees only a mystic in him. When, during 2007-08, as a Fulbright Doctoral Fellow, I had access to most of the primary and secondary resources on Kahlil Gibran at the Young Research Library at University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA) my conviction about the dire necessity to re-read, and hence re-interpret, Gibran was validated.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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