Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Manto Selected Short Stories translated by Aatish Taseer - Kitabi Karwan Repost




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Manto Selected Short Stories, translated by @aatishalitaseer . Sadat Hasan Manto. A name that evokes perhaps the most quintessential idea of a writer from the pre-partition era. I had never read any work by a writer from the galaxy of stars generated in the Indian subcontinent during the early 20th century. This seemed to be a good place to start. Depicting the brutality of human being’s bare existence, in the very form it exists, is extremely challenging. The narcissistic tendency of humans to subtly self-aggrandise through evocative language is a barrier that is tough to evade. However, Sadat Hasan Manto makes this look like a child’s play. It’s rather beautiful how he achieves this by weaving stories around the commonest of characters but the unlikeliest of their traits. A child prostitute’s passion for fast cars, an adolescent servant’s sexualising of a blouse, the rather stateless dog and many more. Picking up on details that perhaps evade the ordinary eye, Manto paints a whole new world in the space of an atom. An important element of this collection is the efforts of the translator. A common complaint is with regard to the reinterpretation of the author’s original work by the translator. In that regard, it brought me great peace to read the note written by the translator, and also to sneakily verify his credentials on the internet. Manto’s general demeanour (through his characters) is that he has one simple question to ask of the world. What is so perfect about the status quo that makes it immune from scrutiny or inspires homogeneity? He lived a troubled life, often being tried legally, morally and socially for obscenity and blasphemy. But therein lay the beauty of his work. The appeal of truth is simply too overpowering to be constrained by the claws of rigidity and lies. Any attempt to break free is always regarded as a red flag, an aberration, a problem to be dealt with. Perhaps, it isn’t, and for Manto, it never was, never is, and never shall be. #Book #Books #Kitab #KitabiKarwan #20thCentury #translated #fiction #reading #manto #partition #prepartition #india #indiansubcontinent #pakistan #sadathasanmanto #aatishtaseer #urdu #Bombay #obscenity
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Sadat Hasan Manto. A name that evokes perhaps the most quintessential idea of a writer from the pre-partition era. I had never read any work by a writer from the galaxy of stars generated in the Indian subcontinent during the early 20th century. This seemed to be a good place to start.

Depicting the brutality of human being’s bare existence, in the very form it exists, is extremely challenging. The narcissistic tendency of humans to subtly self-aggrandise through evocative language is a barrier that is tough to evade. However, Sadat Hasan Manto makes this look like a child’s play. It’s rather beautiful how he achieves this by weaving stories around the commonest of characters but the unlikeliest of their traits. A child prostitute’s passion for fast cars, an adolescent servant’s sexualising of a blouse, the rather stateless dog and many more. Picking up on details that perhaps evade the ordinary eye, Manto paints a whole new world in the space of an atom.

An important element of this collection is the efforts of the translator. A common complaint is with regard to the reinterpretation of the author’s original work by the translator. In that regard, it brought me great peace to read the note written by the translator, and also to sneakily verify his credentials on the internet.

Manto’s general demeanour (through his characters) is that he has one simple question to ask of the world. What is so perfect about the status quo that makes it immune from scrutiny or inspires homogeneity? He lived a troubled life, often being tried legally, morally and socially for obscenity and blasphemy. But therein lay the beauty of his work. The appeal of truth is simply too overpowering to be constrained by the claws of rigidity and lies. Any attempt to break free is always regarded as a red flag, an aberration, a problem to be dealt with. Perhaps, it isn’t, and for Manto, it never was, never is, and never shall be.



Saturday, December 28, 2019

Talking To Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell - Kitabi Karwan Repost




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Talking to Strangers by @malcolmgladwell . The fact that strangers play a critical role in our lives seems antithetical and counter-intuitive to our rather narcissistic way of thinking. But the truth is that in a world of over 7 billion individuals, our immediate family, friends, communities and acquaintances, are merely but a statistical dot. True to his rather unorthodox choice of subject areas to explore, Gladwell has perhaps written his most critical work. The more I think about it, almost all of of my encounters with “strangers” are subtly influenced by a million factors, including subtitles which are rather ingrained due to the rather unique socio-cultural context of my (or anyone’s) unique upbringing. That’s where the problem arises. This unique context presents a major barrier in effective communication, and leaves much to be desired in terms of efficiency. Personally, I feel Gladwell could have spent some more time exploring the theory behind his assertions. He did follow his usual style of empirical assertion followed by building on the extrapolated evidence with research. But it somehow felt as if there was a lot more empiricism and less of…solution oriented theory. I can hardly complain, though as the book has never been marketed as fixer of the problem, but it would have been nice nevertheless to be nudged towards a potential thought, rather than being left at a station with your never-ending train of thought. PS: Something I loved discovering in this book was the concept of “default truth”. I won’t take away the meaning of the book by attempting to explain it, but it is something which scientifically explains why people tend to believe in people…to an extent. #audiobook #audiobooks #audible #penguinaudio #audibleindia #reading #bookstgram #books #book #kitab #karvan #kitabikarvan #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #malcolmgladwell #talkingtostrangers #penguinbooks #strangers #nonfiction #communication #culture #context #booksof2019
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The fact that strangers play a critical role in our lives seems antithetical and counter-intuitive to our rather narcissistic way of thinking. But the truth is that in a world of over 7 billion individuals, our immediate family, friends, communities and acquaintances, are merely but a statistical dot. True to his rather unorthodox choice of subject areas to explore, Gladwell has perhaps written his most critical work. The more I think about it, almost all of of my encounters with “strangers” are subtly influenced by a million factors, including subtitles which are rather ingrained due to the rather unique socio-cultural context of my (or anyone’s) unique upbringing. That’s where the problem arises. This unique context presents a major barrier in effective communication, and leaves much to be desired in terms of efficiency.
Something that hit me like a bolt of lightning was the fact that how far the globe is from a truly globalised world, in a meaningful sense of the term. What makes this more interesting is the increasing tendency of dominant political and cultural communities to simultaneously homogenise within a fixed set of borders, refusing to recognise the frayed edges of each sub-group that gives meaning to the phrase “unity in diversity”, and on the other hand, diversifying themselves globally by “other-isation" of other entities and paradoxically also claiming the benefits of liberalisation, although the last bit has started gaining a rather limited nature recently. In this rather polarising, undirected world, it is important to understand the intricacies of communicating with strangers or for that matter, even known people. 
Personally, I feel Gladwell could have spent some more time exploring the theory behind his assertions. He did follow his usual style of empirical assertion followed by building on the extrapolated evidence with research. But it somehow felt as if there was a lot more empiricism and less of…solution oriented theory. I can hardly complain, though as the book has never been marketed as fixer of the problem, but it would have been nice nevertheless to be nudged towards a potential thought, rather than being left at a station with your never-ending train of thought. 
PS: Something I loved discovering in this book was the concept of “default truth”. I won’t take away the meaning of the book by attempting to explain it, but it is something which scientifically explains why people tend to believe in people…to an extent.



Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore - Kitabi Karwan Repost





Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore The pressure of liking a collection of poems that were responsible for the first non-European’s winning of the Nobel Prize in Literature is simply enormous. Add to that the tall stature of the poet in our country’s history and social renaissance, the task of reading the collection is fraught with fear. At first go, the poems were not something that impressed me mightily. Maybe the hype had ruined them? But the more I thought about them, and the context in which they were written, the subtleties of verse beautifully stood out for me. Addressed to an unnamed supreme being, this collection of poems is a set of offerings, celebrating nature and its gifts. However, the sly peppering of sarcastic references to the British Raj are bluntly visible to any student of Indian history. Something that I initially was sceptical about, and the same simply grew as I read more the work, was with regarding to a notion that poetry is something that loses some of its grace in translation. Something that perhaps diminished that effect to a large extent was the fact that Gurudev himself translated his work, so we can be assured of a certain degree of retention of meaning and beauty, but a casual look at the poems transliterated from the original Bengali to a readable Devnagari script assured me that my scepticism was, and is correct. Perhaps these poems are best read in the forest, or in the hills, or basically anywhere away from the humdrum of daily life. Then again, maybe that’s what he wanted to achieve all along. #Bengal #RabindranathTagore #Tagore #Gurudev #NobelPrizeinLiterature #NobelPrize #Book #Books #Kitab #KitabiKarwan #Poems #Poetry #Translated #Bengali #Nature #Worship #Offerings #Shantiniketan #20thCentury #RupaPublications #RupaandCo #bookstagram #book #books #classic #bengali
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The pressure of liking a collection of poems that were responsible for the first non-European’s winning of the Nobel Prize in Literature is simply enormous. Add to that the tall stature of the poet in our country’s history and social renaissance, the task of reading the collection is fraught with fear. At first go, the poems were not something that impressed me mightily. Maybe the hype had ruined them? But the more I thought about them, and the context in which they were written, the subtleties of verse beautifully stood out for me. Addressed to an unnamed supreme being, this collection of poems is a set of offerings, celebrating nature and its gifts. However, the sly peppering of sarcastic references to the British Raj are bluntly visible to any student of Indian history. 

Something that I initially was sceptical about, and the same simply grew as I read more the work, was with regarding to a notion that poetry is something that loses some of its grace in translation. Something that perhaps diminished that effect to a large extent was the fact that Gurudev himself translated his work, so we can be assured of a certain degree of retention of meaning and beauty, but a casual look at the poems transliterated from the original Bengali to a readable Devnagari script assured me that my scepticism was, and is correct.

Perhaps these poems are best read in the forest, or in the hills, or basically anywhere away from the humdrum of daily life. Then again, maybe that’s what he wanted to achieve all along.


Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee - Kitabi Karwan Repost




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The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee. Human beings are inherently flawed, and somehow, reconciling ourselves with this simple fact is perhaps the greatest task a human ever faces. People like to hold themselves by certain ideals of perfection, and often that drives them, overrules them and takes them over. But perfection is a myth. This book is a haunting, beautiful and frankly, brutal testimony to this. Set in Bengal in the 1960s, it captures the multi-dimensional lives of all members of a join family. Society at large tends to identify individuals, and even families, or any other minuscule units by singular adjectives - rich, poor, leftist, capitalist, intelligent, stupid et al, but calling it reductionist is an understatement. We are a sum of our own contradictions, trying to merely get through life. But the sense of self-aggrandising we posses makes us believe that we serve a larger purpose. Navigating life through this dissonance is what the core of this book is. Mukherjee has aptly titled the book by reflecting the constant human action of othering, whether it is out of hatred, rational (jealousy amongst women for leading the household) or irrational (we see a daughter-in-law being ostracised after supposedly bringing bad luck to the family), or love, again rational (for a servant who has been with a family for longer than some of the children of the family) or irrational (a young bourgeois heir turning to Naxalism). Truly, the Lives of Others shows what perhaps goes unsaid in our lives…hidden behind the drivel of self-centrism, lies the innate urge to function with a unit larger than the single person. PS: Neel Mukherjee is the brother of Udyan Mukherjee, author of The Dark Circles. Perhaps nothing else reflects the beauty of the same seed giving birth to two tangential, yet similar trees than the books written by them. While you will sense a familiarness, their styles of writing are far apart, and magnificent in their own way. #thelivesofothers #neelmukherjee #Bengal #1960 #naxalism #naxalite #communism #CPIM #Mao #CharuMazumdar #paperback #rebel #fiction #reading #bookstgram #books #book #kitab #karvan #kitabikarvan #bookstagram #manbookerprize
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Human beings are inherently flawed, and somehow, reconciling ourselves with this simple fact is perhaps the greatest task a human ever faces. People like to hold themselves by certain ideals of perfection, and often that drives them, overrules them and takes them over. But perfection is a myth. This book is a haunting, beautiful and frankly, brutal testimony to this. Set in Bengal in the 1960s, it captures the multi-dimensional lives of all members of a join family. Society at large tends to identify individuals, and even families, or any other minuscule units by singular adjectives - rich, poor, leftist, capitalist, intelligent, stupid et al, but calling it reductionist is an understatement. We are a sum of our own contradictions, trying to merely get through life. But the sense of self-aggrandising we posses makes us believe that we serve a larger purpose. Navigating life through this dissonance is what the core of this book is. 

Mukherjee has aptly titled the book by reflecting the constant human action of othering, whether it is out of hatred, rational (jealousy amongst women for leading the household) or irrational (we see a daughter-in-law being ostracised after supposedly bringing bad luck to the family), or love, again rational (for a servant who has been with a family for longer than some of the children of the family) or irrational (a young bourgeois heir turning to Naxalism). Truly, the Lives of Others shows what perhaps goes unsaid in our lives…hidden behind the drivel of self-centrism, lies the innate urge to function with a unit larger than the single person.

PS: Neel Mukherjee is the brother of Udyan Mukherjee, author of The Dark Circles. Perhaps nothing else reflects the beauty of the same seed giving birth to two tangential, yet similar trees than the books written by them. While you will sense a familiarness, their styles of writing are far apart, and magnificent in their own way.

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger - Kitabi Karwan Repost





The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger A close friend warned me that I won’t enjoy this book as much as I might have, had I read it when I was a teenager. Yet, I went ahead with it, simply because I personally believe that reflecting on ideals, at any of the different stages of life (or reading, whatever floats your boat) is therapeutic and worth exploring. To that extent, this book is perhaps, as any cliched literature connoisseur might tell you, is the best reflection of teenage angst that has ever been penned. It is hard to dispute the fact, and I won’t, but what got me thinking was the underlying hints of mental health issues which are often dismissed as teenage outbursts. The extremity of the protagonist’s thoughts, the constant mood swings and even a slight suggestion of child abuse trauma made me ponder over the lack of conversation surrounding mental health development in adolescents. Even though we as a society are far more progressive with regard to the concept of wholesome development and health compared to the 1940s and 50s in America, the absence of systematic support to young adults affected by “teenage angst” is glaring. The troubled life of the author of this classic in itself is a brilliant case for what a life without proper mental health interventions may turn out to be. The alleged semi-biographical nature of the book is reflected often in parallels between the protagonist’s and the author’s behaviour with regard to many things such as women (both demonstrated a rather dismissive and nonchalant approach towards women, and often gravitated towards women with wide age gaps) and society (their reclusive nature, disregard and divisive attitude towards “phones” etc.) I intend to make my future kids read this book. Once they do so, I would take them out and talk to them, and perhaps figure out together where do the ducks go during winters :) #thecatcherintherye #jdsalinger #paperback #teen #teenangst #mentalhealth #angst #childabuse #trauma #rebel #rebellion #teenagerebel #teenrebellion #fiction #classic #classics #reading #bookstgram #books #book #americanfiction #classicfiction #kitab #karvan #kitabikarvan #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #society
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A close friend warned me that I won’t enjoy this book as much as I might have had I read it when I was a teenager. Yet, I went ahead with it, simply because I personally believe that reflecting on ideals, at any of the different stages of life (or reading, whatever floats your boat) is therapeutic and worth exploring. To that extent, this book is perhaps, as any cliched literature connoisseur might tell you, is the best reflection of teenage angst that has ever been penned. It is hard to dispute the fact, and I won’t, but what got me thinking was the underlying hints of mental health issues which are often dismissed as teenage outbursts. 

The extremity of the protagonist’s thoughts, the constant mood swings and even a slight suggestion of child abuse trauma made me ponder over the lack of conversation surrounding mental health development in adolescents. Even though we as a society are far more progressive with regard to the concept of wholesome development and health compared to the 1940s and 50s in America, the absence of systematic support to young adults affected by “teenage angst” is glaring.

This might not seem to be a bothersome issue to some, or a pressing one, but I beg to disagree. In fact, the troubled life of the author of this classic in itself is a brilliant case for what a life without proper mental health interventions may turn out to be. The alleged semi-biographical nature of the book is reflected often in parallels between the protagonist’s and the author’s behaviour with regard to many things such as women (both demonstrated a rather dismissive and nonchalant approach towards women, and often gravitated towards women with wide age gaps) and society (their reclusive nature, disregard and divisive attitude towards “phones” etc.)

On the whole, I intend to make my future kids, nieces, nephews and all other familial relationships you can imagine vis-a-vis children, read this book. Once they do so, I would take them out to a park, or a museum, have a conversation with them, and perhaps figure out together where do the ducks go during winters :) 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Tuesday’s with Morrie by Mitch Albom - Kitabi Karwan Repost


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Tuesday’s with Morrie by Mitch Albom (@mitchalbom ) A multitude of metaphors are deployed for describing life, but rarely do we see life being seen as a lesson in itself. In an almost Kantian manner, Tuesday’s with Morrie is a beautiful book taking on life, as an end in itself. As someone on the brink of entering my late twenties, a book about life lessons by a dying professor to one of his students seems almost therapeutic...to the extent that it somehow predicates some, and probably all the errors I’ll make in life. As lovely as the lessons delivered by Morrie in a rather matter-of-factly manner are, I’m in somewhat of a conundrum. The first thought that crossed my mind after finishing the book was that poetically human beings only appreciate lessons only after taking the fall from incorrect decisions. At least a good chunk of them do anyway. Thus, any aphorisms (the new word I picked up from the book) about life are at best an effort to blunt the impact of the mistakes we’ll inevitably make. Personally, I’m not a fatalist or a pessimist, and I am a huge believer of books that help us improve our lives. But that being said, I stick by my original thought that often we end up making mistakes or taking decisions that strongly stand in the way dictated by these lessons. Then what role do these lessons play? I believe the lessons serve as reminders rather than guides, and prevent us from the trappings of the extremities of a pragmatic world. So yes, I’ll end up chasing a conventional career regardless of the number of people who tell me that a career won’t be what satisfies me the most. But I would like to believe that when it comes to choosing between my career and say family or friendship relations, I would always choose the latter, thanks to Morrie (and many others’) reminders. #reading #bookstgram #books #book #kitab #karvan #kitabikarvan #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #nonfiction #life #selfhelp #selfhelpbook #selfhelpbooks #hope #tuesdaythoughts #tuesdaypeople #tuesdaymotivation #tuesdayswithmorrie #mitchalbom #morrie #teacher #professor #lifelessons #lifelesson
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A multitude of metaphors are deployed for describing life, but rarely do we see life being seen as a lesson in itself. In an almost Kantian manner, Tuesday’s with Morrie is a beautiful book taking on life, as an end in itself. As someone on the brink of entering my late twenties, a book about life lessons by a dying professor to one of his students seems almost therapeutic...to the extent that it somehow predicates some, and probably all the errors I’ll make in life.
As lovely as the lessons delivered by Morrie in a rather matter-of-factly manner are, I’m in somewhat of a conundrum. The first thought that crossed my mind after finishing the book was that poetically human beings only appreciate lessons only after taking the fall from incorrect decisions. At least a good chunk of them do anyway. Thus, any aphorisms (the new word I picked up from the book) about life are at best an effort to blunt the impact of the mistakes we’ll inevitably make.


Personally, I’m not a fatalist or a pessimist, and I am a huge believer of books that help us improve our lives. But that being said, I stick by my original thought that often we end up making mistakes or taking decisions that strongly stand in the way dictated by these lessons. Then what role do these lessons play? I believe the lessons serve as reminders rather than guides, and prevent us from the trappings of the extremities of a pragmatic world. So yes, I’ll end up chasing a conventional career regardless of the number of people who tell me that a career won’t be what satisfies me the most. But I would like to believe that when it comes to choosing between my career and say family or friendship relations, I would always choose the latter, thanks to Morrie (and many others’) reminders.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson - Kitabi Karwan Repost




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Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson Common sense, logical analysis and critical thinking are powerful tools to understand practically everything, and that’s what Mark Manson is all about. Everything is F*cked is his follow up book, and it shines just as much as the previous one, which is…not a lot. Forgive me for being counterintuitive in my method of communication (I swear it is not a pun on the books’ underlying ideas), but reading this book was a strange experience for me. I remember reading the first book during a slightly confusing and turbulent time in my life, and finding it to be one of the best books I have read in a while. I rated it a five on five and recommended it as a must-read. However, even though the content of this second book was just as…for a lack of proper word, pathbreaking, I felt let down, which got me pondering about the difference. Soon it dawned upon me that books, like us, are subject to the whims of time and context, not just of the publishing era, but also the personal environment and mindset of the reader. In retrospect, Mark Manson’s advice in both books seems nothing but an extension of what one would conclude if they simply thought logically and rationally. The problem is, the same can only be done in a good mental zone, one which is at best at a manageable level of stress or activity. Ergo, I believe this book would impact each one of you differently and leave people polarised simply because of the unique zones we’ll end up reading them in. Both of the books are not huge leaps of information or ideas or thinking for me personally. The writing style is definitely unique, eclectic and fresh, which perhaps glams up the content. But striped down to its bare content, the book suffers in multiple ways. I noticed some absurd leaps of faith as well, and also a poor understanding of deep philosophical concepts such as the writings of Kant, and a supremely biased understanding of the consequences of the upcoming AI revolution. #reading #bookstgram #books #book #kitab #karvan #kitabikarvan #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #everythingisfucked #markmanson #nonfiction #life #selfhelp #selfhelpbook #selfhelpbooks #hope
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Common sense, logical analysis and critical thinking are powerful tools to understand practically everything, and that’s what Mark Manson is all about. Everything is F*cked is his follow up book, and it shines just as much as the previous one, which is…not a lot. Forgive me for being counterintuitive in my method of communication (I swear it is not a pun on the books’ underlying ideas), but reading this book was a strange experience for me. I remember reading the first book during a slightly confusing and turbulent time in my life, and finding it to be one of the best books I have read in a while. I rated it a five on five and recommended it as a must-read. However, even though the content of this second book was just as…for a lack of proper word, pathbreaking, I felt let down, which got me pondering about the difference. Soon it dawned upon me that books, like us, are subject to the whims of time and context, not just of the publishing era, but also the personal environment and mindset of the reader. In retrospect, Mark Manson’s advice in both books seems nothing but an extension of what one would conclude if they simply thought logically and rationally. The problem is, the same can only be done in a good mental zone, one which is at best at a manageable level of stress or activity. Ergo, I believe this book would impact each one of you differently and leave people polarised simply because of the unique zones we’ll end up reading them in.
Both of the books are not huge leaps of information or ideas or thinking for me personally. The writing style is definitely unique, eclectic and fresh, which perhaps glams up the content. But striped down to its bare content, the book suffers in multiple ways. I noticed some absurd leaps of faith as well, and also a poor understanding of deep philosophical concepts such as the writings of Kant, and a supremely biased understanding of the consequences of the upcoming AI revolution.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran - Kitabi Karwan Repost


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The Prophet by Khalil Gibran I always feel an overwhelming sense of inherent bias while reading classics. It comes from a place of self-doubt honestly - How is this book supposed to make me feel? What if I don’t like the popular lines? What if I don’t like the book? Am I the stupid one for not understanding a deeper meaning behind what appears to me to be a simple book, albeit well written? This is partly what happened to me while reading The Prophet. It’s hard to avoid the bias when you start reading a book that has been so popular, that it hasn’t been out of print in nearly the 100 years it has been in print. Simply written, the book has a plethora of beautifully written verses that’ll leave you stunned and make you grapple with pre-existing notions about certain values and emotions. Khalil Gibran explored many philosophies and religions over his lifetime, and the incoherence and lack of uniformity in his opinions reflect that. It might also help to cross relate his work with the context he would have worked i.e. the early 1900s. In a book that takes strong stands on values and virtues, it’s hard to not have polarised reactions. Your opinion would ideally jump from either ends of the spectrum, and leave you wondering about Gibran. Perhaps that’s when you ought to remind yourself, that poets, authors, and artists in general are people...just like the rest of us. Flawed, damaged and yet aspiring to be the best version of themselves. Reading this book made me experience emotions by telling me exactly what it wants me to think about it. The jury’s still out on how that model would work with individual readers, but the book contains some beautiful gems in the form of prose verses, some of which are attached to this post. #fiction #classic #classics #reading #bookstgram #books #book #kindle #ebook #kindlepaperwhite #kindlebooks #meta #germanfiction #classicfiction #kitab #karvan #kitabikarvan #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #theprophet #khalilgibran #kahlilgibran #theprophetbykahlilgibran #lebanon #poetry #prosepoetry #beauty #morals #virtue #religion
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I always feel an overwhelming sense of inherent bias while reading classics. It comes from a place of self-doubt honestly - How is this book supposed to make me feel? What if I don’t like the popular lines? What if I don’t like the book? Am I the stupid one for not understanding a deeper meaning behind what appears to me to be a simple book, albeit well written?

This is partly what happened to me while reading The Prophet. It’s hard to avoid the bias when you start reading a book that has been so popular, that it hasn’t been out of print in nearly the 100 years it has been in print. Simply written, the book has a plethora of beautifully written verses that’ll leave you stunned and make you grapple with pre-existing notions about certain values and emotions. Khalil Gibran explored many philosophies and religions over his lifetime, and the incoherence and lack of uniformity in his opinions reflect that. It might also help to cross relate his work with the context he would have worked i.e. the early 1900s.

In a book that takes strong stands on values and virtues, it’s hard to not have polarised reactions. Your opinion would ideally jump from either ends of the spectrum, and leave you wondering about Gibran. Perhaps that’s when you ought to remind yourself, that poets, authors, and artists in general are people...just like the rest of us. Flawed, damaged and yet aspiring to be the best version of themselves.

Reading this book made me experience emotions by telling me exactly what it wants me to think about it. The jury’s still out on how that model would work with individual readers, but the book contains some beautiful gems in the form of prose verses, some of which are attached to this post.