As the rest of literature talks of bestsellers and other recent news, I want to talk about a book from a hundred years ago.
That is the kind of high-quality review you can expect on this blog.
I’m sorry, Erika left, so you are stuck with me and my outdated book reading schedule.
The book is The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.
The Prophet? More like the Rambler!
Because he rambles on in the book.
Let me start this review by saying this, this is a weird book.
There is no actual plot. The whole story is about a guy giving advice to people as if he were Buddha or something. A person will come up to the Prophet and ask, “What do you think of work?” and then the Prophet will go on a rant about it, and you are left wondering if the listener went to get a cup of coffee and then came back while the Prophet spoke of the topic.
If you want to read a book with action, this isn’t it.
If you want to read a book with love, this isn’t it.
If you want to read a book with humor, this isn’t it.
The best part of the book and what kept me reading was the writer’s ability to form verse.
Say what you will of the lack of character development of our protagonist, Gibran sure knows how to form a line. He was always making analogies to animals and the environment to try to make the topic more understandable. These added much-needed color to a rather bland story.
Gibran has to be talented as a writer because there isn’t much imagination to the rest of the book. Although that does lead to the question of his own imagination towards the storytelling part of the book. Perhaps he would have been better off focusing more on the story side to it, rather than having the main character be in one spot the whole time. Even the other characters, besides the Prophet, are forgettable. This adds less value to the Prophet’s messages because we end up forgetting who he is talking to.
I am reminded of stories of great minds like Socrates and Jesus while reading this. Did they have a lot to say? Yes. But they said it in the context of their story, and we followed them as they said it. Socrates was literally walking around town and going to different places questioning people. Jesus roamed the countryside with his disciples, curing and healing people as he preached. Both characters were ones that we followed, not just listened to, unlike the Prophet. Which at one point, you can’t help but think the guy is kind of full of shit since he is all talk and no action.
The Prophet gives his advice on a wide variety of topics.
These are generic topics too, like love or marriage or death.
There is no Seinfeld topic in the book, which you can view as either hurting the book’s personality or enabling it to deliver the messages it wanted.
Why talk of the mundane since the Prophet seems more interested in answering the big questions?
Is the Prophet so wise that the small details of life are beneath him, or is his head so far up his ass he fails to see them? Depends on how you look at it.
Halfway through the book, the passages get shorter and I thought while reading them that the author must have done some digging for new topics for his Buddha/Jesus figure to talk of at that point.
As good of a read as it was, mostly because of the creative use of the language, I won’t be bringing up any of the advice of the Prophet in my daily life, since others, whether fictional or not, said more memorable things than him.
The Prophet is the poetry book that you brag to your friends you read since you know none of them have read it.
Good luck with trying to explain the appeal of the book.
A Buddha/Jesus figure gives people advice on how to live.
Why not just read from those men?
The book never makes it clear why you should listen to the Prophet.
What makes him so special?
Is he a groundbreaking philosophical figure, like Socrates?
Is he a revolutionary theological figure, like Jesus?
Is he really just a guy talking about the way he sees the world?
That is what the book is about?
It has to be more than that because telling your friend that the author is a great writer isn’t that good of a selling point.
Unfortunately, it’s not.
What books would you like us to review next?
Leave a recommendation in the comment section below.
About The Blogger
Greg Luti is an editor, and blogger on pensandwords.com. His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes that the reader shares that same passion.