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The Broken Wings
by Kahlil Gibran


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Introduction

First Published In: 1912 (originally published in Arabic, then republished in 1957). Original Title: Al-Ajniha Al-Mutakassirah

A tale of doomed passion, set in turn-of-the-century Beirut, by the author of The Prophet.

A young man falls inlove with a woman betrothed to the nephew of a leading churchman. When their secret meetings are discovered, she is confined to the house, their beautiful dreams crushed by a cruel society. Drawing on personal experience, Kahlil Gibran describes their emotional upheavals with a sharp eye and an eloquent pen.

Broken Wings, his longest sustained narrative, also illuminates many of his central concerns: the plight of Eastern women; wealth as an impediment to happiness; the greed and corruption of the clergy; and the overwhelming power of love to transport us into a transcendent texts adds a fresh dimension to our understanding of his whole philosophy and career.

-- Robin Waterfield


Reviews

By: Publishers Weekly

Lyrical and dynamic, free from the rhetorical flourishes common in traditional Middle Eastern literature, Kahlil Gibrans early short stories, prose poems, and vignettesall written in Arabicmade a profound impact on his fellow immigrants in America and on his fellow writers in his native region long before The Prophet made him a best-selling English author in 1923. Now White Cloud Press has launched a series of contemporary translationsdesigned to replace the generally inaccurate ones issued after his death in 1931of Gibrans most significant work.

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By: harendra desai (Bombay, India)

In the Broken Wings, Gibran touches a variety of subjects like love, plight of women, hypocracy of self serving religious heads, false values on which human socities are built, and true prayer and sacrifice. And all is told in very few majestically beautiful words without malice to any one.

"Love is the only freedom in the world because it so elevates the spirit that laws of humanity do not alter its course."
"Love is the offspring of spiritual affinity and ..........is created in a moment."
Gibran says of the plight of the women by describing them as "the bird with broken wings in a cage."

Of heads of religions, Gibran says, "Thus the Christian Bishop and the Moslem imam and the Brahman priest are like sea reptiles who clutch their prey with many tentacles and suck their blood with numerous mouths." How true are these words!

Gibran tells how "in some countries, the parent's wealth is a source of misery for the children." Yet the woman in the story, although falling in the abyss of miseries, prays "help me, my Lord, to be strong in this deadly struggle and assist me to be truthful and virtuous until death. Thy will be done, oh Lord God."

And finally she sacrifices her own life fot he sake of her beloved thus bringing glory to "sacrifice." Tears rolled down my cheeks while reading the tragic end of the story. But I felt these tears have cleansed my spirit.

The reading of The Broken Wings is a must for any one who wants to experience a tearful smile or a sorrowful joy or miseries for a true prayer.

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By: "abhishek77" (Portland, Oregon USA)

More than a heart rending love story with a tragic ending, this book, one of Gibran's lesser known works, is a compelling commentary on the condition of women in the Middle Eastern societies of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. What I like most about Gibran's work is his beautiful prose replete with evocative imagery; that quality is displayed extravagantly in this novel. Don't pass this one up if you admire Gibran! :-)

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By: David Kopp (San Francisco, CA United States)

Broken Wings is a simple story which serves as a canvas for Kahlil Gibran's flights of beautiful prose and philosophical insight. Gibran's prose is simply redolent with images. His evocative narration paints pictures with words which both took me away and taught me. Gibran's point is so much more clear and simply arresting for the crispness of his imagery, such as when he writes: "Those ample treasure chests that the energy of the father and the thrift of the mother fill up are transformed into dark, narrow prison cells for their heirs. That mighty deity whom the people worship in the form of money metamorphoses into a horrifying demon who tortures the people and kills the heart." (p.51)

There were several thoughts of Gibran's that I found similarly significant. In talking about the blossoming of love, Gibran writes that love is not "born of long association and unbroken companionship." Instead, he writes, it is "the daughter of a spiritual understanding, and if that understanding is not achieved in a single moement, it will never be attained -- not in a year, not in a whole century" (p. 41). My limited experience leads me to believe precisely this. Likewise, I agreed with Gibran when he writes that "Limited love demands possession of the beloved, but infinite love desires only its own essence" (p. 97).

If Gibran has a fundamental message in Broken Wings, though, I think that it is surrounding the tension or balance between putting everything that we can into our love and our endeavors, and the need to contextualize that love or endeavor in such a way that it does not consume that which we are. Gibran's narrator struggles with this tension. He wants to spirit Salma away to a life of true love. He wants her to break her word to her father and follow her heart. Mostly, he doesn't want her to give up on their love. His defense of this course of action is passionate: "For the soul to experience torment because of its perseverance in the face of trials and difficulties is more noble than for it to retreat to a place of safety and calm. The moth that contines to flutter about the lamp until it burns up is more exalted than the mole that lives in comfort and security in its dark tunnel" (p.73).

The imagery is again evocative, and certainly, I think, speaks to me: if you are to pursue life, pursue it like the moth -- soaring to unimagined heights and experiences. Don't be a mole who attempts to prolong his life by simply hiding himself away -- but never really experiencing life. Live, don't simply preserve an unlived life. Such a good reminder for us.

Love (and any endeavor, I imagine) isn't always so black-and-white, though. Salma's understanding is deeper and more complicated: before even her emotions and her love, she places her commitment to her father and to her (unloving) husband. There is incredible power in her choosing integrity over running away to a love which Gibran paints as being the fulfillment of all of our hopes for love. There is some unspoken insight here about integrity and commitment, I think. It is, perhaps, part of the foundation of love itself, a necessary ingredient for its presence.

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By: Ethel Almeida (Margao Goa India)

The power to love is God's greatest gift to man, for it never will be taken from the blessed one who loves.(Gibran) I am a fan of Kahlil Gibran and more than that I get steered spiritually when I read his books. As for Broken Wings well that book is surely one that has the greatest love story ever told. This first love of his was inspirational and has brought him along way into many many books. All of them written with emotion and with what we would say as of today with truth. How many of us would agree to social norms? Well as teenagers surely we hated society as they curbed our very life style, but this man with his first experience has really written so many books. He was truly an inspired person as no one could write so much on spirituality. Whatever his lifestyle, we are no judges for that. The books are what matter most. Most authors till date are not as young as he was and probably envy his being young and gifted into the world of TRUTH. We are still seeking what he already had.

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