A Book Not to Read: The Book of Mirdad by Mikhail Naimeh

A Book Not to Read: The Book of Mirdad by Mikhail Naimeh

Book blue cover with title The Book of Mirdad

“Millions of people have tried to write books so that they can express the inexpressible, but they have utterly failed. I know only one book, The Book of Mirdad, which has not failed; and if you cannot get to the very essence of it, it will be your failure, not his.”

I wanted to offer a copy of Mikhail Naimeh’s The Book of Mirdad to a student of mine. The librarian’s disappointing and expected answer was, “Of course we don’t have it on hand, but we can order it for you.”

A couple of weeks later, I got a call from a friend who was visiting Berlin, asking if I still wanted the book and, if so, in what language.

It is a little unsettling that a major piece of work by Mikhail Naimeh can be found in a library in Berlin, readily available in seven languages, but cannot be found two kilometers from where the Lebanese author lived and died.

Man walking amidst forest trees in the dark

The Book of Mirdad is a milestone in the category of spiritual books. It is a compilation of dialogues between Mirdad, the abbot of a monastery, and his disciples, essentially about the human condition and the journey through the great elements of existence: love, compassion, forgiveness, pain, fear, death — in short, life. A life of purpose, not through abstinence and austerity, but through … well, I’d rather you discover it for yourself, should you decide to read it. This masterpiece of paradoxical writing — translated into more than 30 languages worldwide — is far richer between the lines than one might expect. No matter how high your expectations are, you will soon find out that is a book not to be read, but to be lived.

For more info: https://www.facebook.com/rudy.kamel