Friday, June 28, 2013

The Madman

Book: The Madman
Author: Kharil Gibran
Edition: Gutenberg eBook
Read: June 2013
58 pages
Rated: 3 1/2 out of 5

This is one of the lessor known books of Gibran. It is a book of parables about a person whose mask had been removed by thieves. He can now see clearly and is a madman. So he tells stories about the truths he tells.


It is better to tell stories with meaning than to say so plainly. With a story, the listener gains understanding. With direction, only a law.

One story (TheWise King) which struck me told how a whole city had gone mad overnight, except for the king and his advisor. This was because their well had been poisoned. The people started whispering that the king was mad, should he rule?  In this short story, Gibran opens up a whole realm of questions. What is the nature of madness? How can a person rule his subjects which think he is unfit? 

Or in The New Pleasure, he shows how thin a difference virtue and vice, sin and goodness can be. CS Lewis would say that sin would only be corrupted pleasure. Or in The Three Ants, he explores what we know and how our ignorance leads us into disaster.

The Blessed City talks about a city which has the reputation for righteousness. When the traveler comes to it, he discovers the population is missing their right hand and eye. When he attends a time of instruction, he understands the lack of hands and eyes and their righteousness. He then flees the city. Read the story and find out why.

More stories along the same lines. Some of them I do find wise. Most I do not.

 This writing is one which provokes thinking. Unlike The Prophet which is more explicit, Gibran relies on story images to convey his thoughts. He is mostly effective in his story telling. There are a few stories which lack ths qualities, but that may be due to something in the reader.  Such as the Scarecrow saying only those who are stuffed with straw can have the joy of scaring. A year later, two crows were making a nest in his head. Interesting on both parts.

This is the type of book which I like to read-simple, but raises profound questions.

Good Quotes:

  • First Line:  You ask me how I became a madman
  • Last Line:  Why am I here, O God of lost souls, thou who art lost amongst the gods?
  •  And I have found both freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.  2


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