Orientalism Paperback – Oct 12 1979
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"The theme is the way in which intellectual traditions are created and trans-mitted... Orientalism is the example Mr. Said uses, and by it he means something precise. The scholar who studies the Orient (and specifically the Muslim Orient), the imaginitive writer who takes it as his subject, and the institutions which have been concerned with teaching it, settling it, ruling it, all have a certain representation or idea of the Orient defined as being other than the Occident, mysterious, unchanging and ultimately inferior." --Albert Hourani, New York Review of Books
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The noted critic and a Palestinian now teaching at Columbia University, examines the way in which the West observes the Arabs.See all Product Description
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In Orientalism, Said sets about dismantling the study of the "orient" in general with primary focus on the Islamic Near East. Said argues that concepts such as the Orient, Islam, the Arabs, etc. are too vast to be grouped together and presented as one coherent whole, encompassing all there is to know about the subject. Said bases his view on the shear width and breadth of the subject, the inherent bias of conflicting cultures and more recently the role of the Orientalism in colonialism. It is indeed difficult to attempt to represent a book that is so focused on anti essentialism.
Said's research of western / occidental discourse was very thorough indeed and he does illustrate through repeated examples how misinformation sufficiently repeated can become accepted academic work. Said also presents an analysis of the causes and motives and theorizes about his findings. A lengthy and a times tedious discussion of the origins of Orientalism is rather repetitive and hard to follow for a non specialist like me.
Edward Said however seem to have fallen in the same trap he attributes to Orientalism, he has not attempted to explore Arab writings of the periods he discussed nor has he attempted to present (possibly even read) work by Egyptian and Arab historians of the periods he was addressing save for work carried out in the west and within western universities.Read more ›
It is not often that a brilliantly, exhaustively researched book on an alternatingly controversial and trivialized subject can engender an emotional response of the magnitude with which this work does--which usually means that it is worth reading. In documenting the psychological architecture of the western mind and its perspective on the East--or the "Orient"--he deconstructs it. The idea that it exists deconstructs it by nature; before reading this book you will swear that most of what we know of the Arabian East is the absolute truth, without even being aware that it's been either romanticized into impotence or isn't much of anything complimentary, let alone influential.
I rate ORIENTALISM, for its effect on our psyche as Americans alone (regardless of race or assumed political leanings), as one of the most important books written in the last decades of the 20th century. The world looks the way it does not because of natural law, like the reasons why the Sahara has become a desert--or at least not by the natural laws we have imagined.Read more ›
Said's main limitation in writing the book is that he doesn't speak German, the language in which many of the most influential works of Orientalism (Ignac Goldziher's Muslim Studies and Joseph Schacht's Introduction to Mohammaden Jurisprudence, for example) were written. In addition, he doesn't compare the study of the Orient to the study of other regions in the same period. Hence, when he complains near the end that much "modern Orientalism" reduces people to statistics, he doesn't mention that the same could be true of the study of American history at that time.
The work holds up well for highlighting specific problems in the field, such as the portrayal of the East as deficient in some manner. One cannot agree, however, that it continues in scholarly circles to the present, when most "orientalists" in fact tend to be ardently pro-Arab politically. This was true to a certain degree even earlier in the century when Louis Massignon and T.E. Lawrence both became active in pro-Arab causes.
Said highlights important trends in the field of Middle Eastern studies and places them in a provocative framework. Readers can judge for themselves whether that framework holds up under scrutiny.
Most recent customer reviews
Item came within projected mailing time in perfect condition. Due to the printing processes very rare but few words are slightly distorted but doesn't detract from the legibility.Published 9 months ago by G
In response to the precedent review. First of all, Orientalism happens to be Edward Said's area of study. Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2005
This is definitely a masterpiece!The late Edward Said has done an excellent job in this monumental study on Orientalism. Read morePublished on June 19 2004 by Georges Melki
The book of Edward Said is without any doubt on the most influential books produced in the late XX century, in the Western societies. Read morePublished on April 18 2004 by José Pedro T. Fernandes
It isn't until you get to p. 242 of Edward Said's "Orientalism" that he informs the reader of what he is REALLY getting at. Read morePublished on March 28 2004 by Corn Soup
Simply put an amazing book. Said's point is not to accuse the "West", for which he is derided by one of Amazon's "spotlighted reviewers" here, but instead Said... Read morePublished on March 16 2004
Lets get the argument strait here: the Western scholars tried to understand Islam through tradition techniques like fact finding and cultural analysis and for Mr. Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2004 by Seth J. Frantzman
This extremely important book is not easy to read. As Said tackles sensitive issues, he makes sure that every word of his is backed up by ample research, and the result is at times... Read morePublished on Jan. 4 2004 by nadav haber
What I wonder about Said's career is this: does the West have an equivalent of Edward Said who is working at the most prestigious Arab universities and making a very comfortable... Read morePublished on Dec 6 2003 by sky