Let me begin with one question. Is Kahlil Gibran an American author or an Arab author? At one point in my life I heard people say that Gibran was an Arab/Lebanese author. However, one time a friend, an influential author in Yogyakarta, convinced me that Gibran was an English literature author (because he grew up as an author in the United States under the shadow of William Blake, both in his poetry and paintings).
His Life and World has revealed to me a lot about Gibran’s literary identity. Well, Gibran started writing when he was under the patronage of Fred Holland Day and when he was close with poetess Josephine Preston Peabody. It was around the first quarter of his twenties. He then began to write for an Arabic Newspaper in the US called al-Mohajer (“The Emigrant”) that was circulated among Arab Immigrants in the US.
His first books were in Arabic. They include The Music, Nymphs of the Valley (by the way, a happy coincidence put me face to face with the English version of the book in Malang around 11 years ago , and I immediately read it, and found it different from another book by Gibran, the Prophet, that I had read several years earlier), Spirits Rebellious, etc. At this time, Gibran’s English had improved quite a lot. But still, in His Life and World, in which the biographers maintain Gibran’s letters verbatim to the typos and syntax, we can see that he still had a lot of problems with English grammar and spelling.
Only in 1910 (meaning when he was 25 years old) did Gibran started to realize that he needed to improve his English. It was following his encounter with another Arab immigrant author called Ameen Rihani. Ameen Rihadi had written several books in English at this point.
When did Gibran start writing in English. Find the answer pretty soon right here, same blog, same blogger!