HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and…
Loading...

For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies (edition 2007)

by Robert Irwin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
192561,408 (3.83)10
Member:hnn
Title:For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies
Authors:Robert Irwin
Info:Penguin (2007), Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library, Just read
Rating:**
Tags:middle east, historiography, orientalism

Work details

For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and their Enemies by Robert Irwin

Recently added bynpeacock, GMoorehead, mikepillsbury

None.

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 10 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
In Dangerous Knowledge Robert Irwin provides a very full history of an intellectual discipline: the study of Arabic and Islam in Western scholarship, which has customarily gone under the name of "Orientalism." In some measure, Irwin's book is a response and rebuttal to Edward Said's Orientalism, which indicts the entire Orientalist effort as having been an instrument of imperialist ambitions to degrade and dominate the Muslim East. Working largely through a host of thumbnail biographies of individual scholars, Irwin shows the motives and affections of the researchers to have been very diverse, and while geopolitical ambitions may have resulted in a (particularly 20th-century) relative surge of funding for Orientalist research, the researchers and the funders do not seem to have had any reliable overlap in sentiment. Amidst this diversity, Irwin observes the various chains of scholarly transmission, comparing them appropriately to the Sufi concept of silsila.

While Irwin (far from the first to do so) criticizes Said's Orientalism for lacking or contradicting the actual facts about Orientalist academics and their work, Dangerous Knowledge suffers in some respects from a complementary difficulty. It is decidedly more trees than forest, and by emphasizing the many and admittedly interestingly various individuals and details, it may leave the reader groping for a "big picture." The effect is somewhat paradoxical: Irwin is obviously opinionated, and clearly loyal to what he sees as the valuable elements of the Orientalist tradition, but the stress on objective, heterogeneous fact almost conveys a sense of dispassion. The prose style is accessible, and not encumbered with academicisms; anyone with an interest in the subject matter should find the book enjoyable and worthwhile.
4 vote paradoxosalpha | May 17, 2014 |
Interesting research and interesting writing but a little bit defensive against the definition or Orientalism by Edward SAID and a little bit nostalgic about 'the time of his father' Ch8 'the all too brief heyday of Orientalism' and Ch9 'an enquiry into the Nature of Certain Twentieth-century polemic' almost tell the story ( )
  Dettingmeijer | Oct 26, 2009 |
Even though it's written as a response to Edward Said's Orientalism, Robert Irwin's Dangerous Knowledge is a good introduction to the history of Orientalism through the centuries - and especially, an introduction to the fascinating characters that have populated the field from its informal inception in Medieval travel writings to the more formal establishment as a field of study in the last couple of centuries. I'm not very familiar with Arabic studies or Orientalism in general, but thoroughly enjoyed the history and personal sketches. The final chapters on Said and other critics of Orientalism were well done so that a novice (I'm definitely one!) could easily get a sense of the controversy and the ongoing discussion. All-in-all, an interesting read. ( )
1 vote drneutron | Sep 15, 2009 |
Irwin sets out to examine the effect that Edward Said's work, Orientalism, has had on studies of Islam. He routinely surveys academic studies over the centuries before ending his book on the strangest sentence which undercuts any objectivity he may claim to have. He states: "As for Islam, a religion that embodies essential truths about the nature of the universe and man's relation to God has nothing to fear from the most advanced techniques of Western textual criticism" (p. 330). Since when can scholars claim such immunity from rational discussion and scientific inquiry?

This is not to suggest the book is without value. He helpfully notes the importance of The Sectarian Milieu: Content And Composition of Islamic Salvation History by John Wansbrough, and, Quranic Studies: Sources and Methods of Scriptural Interpretation by John Wansbrough. "Noting that none of the Arabic sources for the life of Muhammed are contemporary ones, Wansbrough argued that the final text of the Qur'an was put together some two hundred years after its supposed revelation" (p. 269). In fact, most of the book was collected in a polemic against Judaism and Christianity. The Qur'an and related materials "are not straightforward historical sources and were never intended to be" (p. 269).
  gmicksmith | Jul 27, 2008 |
Absolutely brilliant and hilarious! Mr. Irwin has authored several novels, and, no doubts, his non-fiction writing has only been improved by that.

I found just a couple of rather strange ... aberrations? (I guess it is appropriate to use that word for a book populated by so many eccentrics) in this book.

Mr. Irwin writes (pp. 19–20), "For reasons that remain misterious, the new conquerors [i.e., Arabs] were referred to in the earliest Latin sources either as 'Hagarenes' or as 'Saracens'." I've always thought there's nothing misterious about that: it's an old tradition of calling an ethnos by a name or place known to classical authors, or by a legendary ancestor. Hagar was mother of Ishmael, the ancestor of the Arabs, hence Hagarians. Saraceni were nomads mentioned by the late Greek authors, so here you go ...

Another example (p. 181): "It always rankled with [Edward] Palmer that he did not succeed to [William] Wright's professorship when the latter died." Something isn't right here. Palmer was murdered in 1882, Wright was succeeded by their mutual friend William Robertson Smith after Wright's death in 1889. With all Orientalists' eccentricity, it seems rather unusual for Palmer to be irritated by a fact that his friend and colleague outlived him.

Despite these minor editorial omissions, I wish could give more than five stars to this book.

As for the sad case of Said's "Orientalism," Mr. Irwin yet again "tore that book to pieces," which, naturally, will have no effect on Said's admirers. As any critique never had and never will on supporters of the "Black Athena," or on believers in the less known here in the West so called "New Chronology." ( )
3 vote barbatus | May 29, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
no reviews | add a review

Is a reply to

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
In attacking [Said's Orientalism] I fear that I shall alienate some of my friends: on the other hand I shall certainly also infuriate old enemies and I shall take great pleasure in that. (p. 4)
Last words
Disambiguation notice
[UK title] For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and their Enemies; [US title] Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and its Discontents
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
18 wanted1 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.83)
0.5
1
1.5
2 3
2.5
3 6
3.5
4 7
4.5
5 8

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,273,152 books! | Top bar: Always visible