Monday, November 03, 2008

The Return of the Prophet by Hajjar Gibran

The Return of the Prophet by Hajjar Gibran is an ambitious endeavor to write a sequel to the classic by Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet. There is a certain amount of hubris implied in writing a sequel to another author’s works but the fact that Hajjar is somehow related to Kahlil, although the lineage is never clearly defined, is supposed to add a veneer of acceptability to a clearly daunting task. As I read this book, I wondered if Hajjar aspired to create a text as eloquent and impacting as Kahlil’s. He manages to embrace the voice and tone of the previous publication very well and his story is more contemporary in some ways. However, I recall reading The Prophet and needing to set aside the book to meditate on the passage I had just read. I never once set Hajjar’s book down for that reason. Rather, I would finish a chapter and consider whether I wanted to read another chapter or perhaps do something else. I neither felt compelled to continue reading nor stop reading. In that respect, I suppose the book does not live up to its promise. The truth is, I did not approach this book with an assumption it would live up to Kahlil’s seminal story. Rather, I came to it with the same lowered expectations I would to any other sequel. With that in mind, I enjoyed the book. It did not exceed my expectations nor did it disappoint completely. There are enough writings by Kahlil Gibran to make a sequel to his lovely The Prophet superfluous. Anyone aching to read more of the brilliant teachings of Gibran would probably do better to stay with Kahlil. But, if Kahlil’s writings have been exhausted and there is still a need for more, then Hajjar’s book is here to fill, if not fulfill, that need.

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