The news that Salma Hayek had travelled to Lebanon to launch her co-produced animated feature film Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, marks a new phase in the long history of the reception of a towering literary figure who through his musings has single-handedly linked the Arab world to the Americas and from there to the world at large.
The author of the globally celebrated The Prophet, Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) was born in Bsharri in the Mount Lebanon region of the Ottoman Empire. But he and his family soon immigrated to the United States where he commenced his artistic and literary career, writing initially in Arabic but eventually in English, thus sustaining a rather remarkable fame and career in both the Arabic- and English-speaking worlds.
Against the background of a sustained history of war and conflict between the Arab World and the US and Israel, the figure of Khalil Gibran has faded in and out as a single sign of love and admiration. Against a background of hostility and mistrust, he has always loomed as a lone star shining a mystical light – now bright then much dimmer – upon an otherwise mundane living.