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What I do today in my solitude will be echoed tomorrow by the multitude. This was not the first request of its kind, but it came at a serendipitous time, where the right partner my fellow researcher Francesco Medici , tools and information were aligned in such a way as to provide both the desire and motivation for this undertaking. What we found was no less than awe-inspiring. For years Gibran scholars have either grappled with conducting such an in-depth study or relied on un-scientific figures that were published by Gibran enthusiasts.
The earlier uncertainty surrounding his work can be traced back all the way to his publisher, Alfred A. How Did We Get Here? According to its publisher A. Knopf, The Prophet, first published in , has been reprinted an astounding consecutive times in its year history, making it one of the longest-running of any published works with an estimated worldwide readership of million.
After 95 years, publishers Alfred A. Knopf, now owned by Random House Penguin, will no longer have copyright authority over the original works in English by the end of This means we can expect to see many more iterations of The Prophet and related material around the world, beginning in January an exciting prospect indeed! What we found has far, far exceeded our expectations and surprised even those who thought they knew all there was to know about Gibran!
To our knowledge, no such comprehensive study has been conducted up until now, at least not by an academic or private institution.
Furthermore, this study has not analysed each translation in greater detail, and the debate and discussion on the authenticity of each individual text is a whole different study in itself. We have simply tallied and collated to reach a base number of available texts from which we have a solid foundation to build upon. All translations in this study were counted based on first editions only, and we have verified each listed work by citing at least the writer and publisher of the text.
We did not, however, have the capacity to review the full contents of each work individually, nor test the accuracy of the poetic message and how that relates back to the virtue of the original. Furthermore, it is difficult to tell if the translators translated the work from the original English form or some other language.
In summary, we solely focused on the existence and authenticity of the publication itself. Building on this official list, we verified each copy and quickly added a further four translations, therefore bringing the number to 53 translations, which was still within the publicly available range of Digging further into the research, Francesco and I would email our shared file back and forth in what became a daily ritual.
And what part of the world are they to be found?? Or even more? Was it possible we could hit the magic milestone of three digits? We continued edging closer and closer like finding a braille copy to the magic number but as we got within reach of our desired target of we reached a lull. The official total number of translations to date now sits at , a number no one could have guessed, not even the most ardent Gibran fan.
As the weeks went by and I contemplated this number, I began to wonder where this placed The Prophet in the rankings when it came to the most translated books. The answer? According to existing lists, The Prophet, with translations, amazingly sits at number 10, just behind the book of Mormon.
Even more astonishing is that when breaking down the list, The Prophet has yet achieved another milestone: the only book of prose-poetry to hold a top ten position. Moving Forward This discovery is only the beginning as we have only included first editions of each translation and therefore have reason to believe the overall number could exceed well over translations; for example, we know of editions that exist in China alone, another in France, and so on.
To think that a book which has had little to no promotional support in its year history has reached such a level of readership is remarkable, especially when you measure it against other works with multi-million-dollar marketing campaigns.
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