Kahlil Gibran Collective
Ara'is al-Muruj [Nymphs of the Valley], al-Qahira: al-Hilal, 1922 [second print].

A collection of three short stories, it was first published in 1906 by New York newspaper Al-Mohajer. It is known in English as 'Nymphs of the Valley' or 'Brides of the Meadows'. “Rimal al-ajyal wa al-nar al-khalidah” (The Ash of Centuries and the Immortal Flame) is a story of reincarnation. Nathan, the son of the priest of Astarte in Baalbek, loses his lover to disease. Despite her promise that they will meet again, he is maddened by grief and wanders lost in the desert. Ages pass, and a Bedouin shepherd, ‘Ali al-Husayni, falls asleep in the ruins of the temple and dreams of love. Seeing a girl by a stream, he recognizes himself as Nathan and her as his long-lost lover. It is noteworthy that the main part of the story is set in the Phoenician, not the Islamic, Lebanese past. The other two stories deal with social oppression. In “Marta al-baniya” an orphan is kidnaped from her village by a man from the city, who rapes her and keeps her as his mistress. She becomes pregnant, and he throws her out. When she dies, the priests refuse to bury her in consecrated ground. In “Yuhanna al-majnum” (Yuhanna the Madman) a poor cowherd’s cattle stray onto monastery land while he is reading his Bible, and the monks refuse to return them. When Yuhanna preaches against the monks at the Easter service, they arrest him; he is freed only after his father testifies that he is a madman.

Tags: 1922