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Orientalism by Edward Said

Orientalism (1978)

by Edward Said

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Powerful for its method, rigor, & content. I must process it more, but it's something all Westerners need to process. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
As been said by other reviewers, a seminal but flawed work. A must-read for every student of cultural studies, colonial/post-colonial studies and even history. The flaws include overgeneralisation and lack of nuance - the author does seem to be more interested in rhetoric and scoring a (valid) ideological points. For thorough review (both criticism and praise) I'd recommend "Reading orientalism : Said and the unsaid" ( )
  Beholderess | Dec 17, 2013 |
A literary/philosophical analysis of perceptions of 'the Orient' as something different, exotic, passionate, religious, and inferior.

The Orient as it was, was thought of as such - in many ways- since the Crusades, perhaps before, and all the way up to the Ottoman Empire. But as the Europeans became colonial powers, perceptions continued to influence action.

Im curious over why the author omitted German sources, and possible perceptions of West v. East Europe - the multiethnic Habsburg Empire, and the Russian 'yellow peril'. Or of Wilhelm the Second's mad dreams.

And I am curious as to perceptions of the West by East, as well. was it always an overbearing threat?

This fiery criticism of colonial attitudes has more or less been integrated into modern post-colonial discourse. This is a seminal, if flawed work. ( )
  HadriantheBlind | Mar 30, 2013 |
Said traces the history of contact between the West and the East and the resulting construction of the Orient as an area of study for Western scholars. Westerners come to believe that they understand the East and its occupants better than they understand themselves. This privileged knowledge is used to further the interests of the West in conquering or controlling these regions. Said had been attacked for his opposition to Israel's handling of the Palestinian question.

Since the book was written in 1978 one might expect it to be outdated, but the events of the past two decades illustrate that Western powers continue to attribute the actions of Easterners (especially Muslims) to irrational cultural attributes rather than to rational self interest.

It is interesting that the older portrayal of the Muslim male as lecher surrounded by multiple wives and lithesome concubines has been partly reversed to an image of Islam as anti-sex with morality police roaming the streets in search of a flash of ankle or strand of hair for which a woman can be whipped.
  ritaer | Aug 2, 2012 |
As I said before I was first introduced to Said as a first year history student in University through this very book. It is very interesting and worth taking the time out to read it but it is a difficult book to get into. This is eased somewhat by the updated preface, introduction and afterword sections which marry into the text quite well. The book is well referenced; as one would expect of a Said work, and he sets out to challenge the theories of Orientalism expostulated by numerous Orientalists of various hues and from different countries over the centuries. Said critically analyses how the Orient has been viewed through Western eyes over the centuries and how their attitudes towards issues such as sex, religion, culture, lifestyle and customs have changed over the centuries together with assessing the impact since the USA has become a significant international player. The substantial criticism that this book generated and the accusations that were levelled at its author, both numerous and spurious since its publication, are a very good reason to acquire it also. ( )
  thegeneral | Dec 30, 2011 |
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They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented. -Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonapart
The East is a career. -Benjamin Disraeli, Tancred
For Janet and Ibrahim
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On a visit to Beirut during the terrible civil war of 1975-1976 a French journalist wrote regretfully of the gutted downtown area that, "it had once semed to belong to . . . the Orient of Chateaubriand and Nerval."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 039474067X, Paperback)

The noted critic and a Palestinian now teaching at Columbia University,examines the way in which the West observes the Arabs.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:40 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The author presents a critique of the Western World's historical, cultural, and political perceptions of the East and Arab people. In this study, the author traces the origins of the West's concept of "orientalism" to the centuries-long period during which Europe dominated the Middle and Near East.… (more)

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