Signed First Edition of The Prophet at Auction

One of the highlights in our November 10 sale of 19th & 20th Century Literature is a scarce first edition of The Prophet, signed by its author, Kahlil Gibran, in the year of publication.

 

Lot 133: Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, signed first edition, New York, 1923. At auction November 10, 2016. Estimate $6,000 to $9,000.

Lot 133: Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, signed first edition, New York, 1923. At auction November 10, 2016. Estimate $6,000 to $9,000.

 

The Prophet is a collection of twenty-six prose poems delivered by the fictional prophet Almustafa. Since its 1923 publication, the book has sold over one hundred million copies, been translated into over forty languages, and has never been out of print. Though Gibran’s first language was Arabic, he began writing in English after moving to New York City in 1911. The Prophet was his third attempt at a novel. Gibran created all of the illustrations in The Prophet, including the Christ-like frontispiece.

 

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, first edition signed in the year of publication.

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, first edition signed in the year of publication.

 

This is the first time a signed first edition of The Prophet has appeared at auction. Interestingly, Gibran, the third best-selling poet of all time, signed the current book upside-down on the back page. The reason for this remains a mystery.

 

Kahlil Gibran, Potrait of a Woman, watercolor and pencil, 1916. Sold November 15, 2012 for $40,000.

Kahlil Gibran, Portrait of a Woman, watercolor and pencil, 1916.
Sold November 15, 2012 for $40,000.

 

In addition to illustrating his own books, Gibran also had a career as accomplished artist. His atmospheric paintings reflect the mysticism and spirituality present in his writing. Some of his works have crossed the block at Swann in the past, but this is the first time we have offered the work that made him famousAccording to John D. Larson, Swann Galleries’ 19th & 20th Century Literature Specialist, “Finding a first edition signed, in the year of publication, no less, counts as a genuine event, one not likely to reoccur anytime soon.”

 

Kahlil Gibran, Rape by a Centaur, watercolor and pencil, 1916. Sold March 8, 2012 for $22,800.

Kahlil Gibran, Rape by a Centaur, watercolor and pencil, 1916. Sold March 8, 2012 for $22,800.

 

More signed first editions of literary classics can be found in our full catalogue.