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This is the classic (originally published in 1978) work analyzing the origins and pervasiveness of Western attidtudes toward and beliefs (mostly misfounded) about the "Orient", principally the Middle East. Said himself, a professor at Columbia, was raised in Lebanon, a Protestant Arab, so from a minority of a minority. He draws on histories, traveloges, memoirs, fictions, government reports, religious documents, philosophical works, every possible source - virtually all Western. He says: "My contention is that Orientalism is fundamentally a political doctrine willed over the Orient becazuse the Orient was weaker than the West, whcih elided the Orient's difference with its weakness." He finds the origins in colonialism and imperialism and makes a compelling argument. My principal complaints are that he does not provide much by way of an alternative interpretation and does not even spend more than a couple of pages referencing alternative sources, particularly indiginous sources by Arab writers- one is left with the feeling that there aren't any.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 31, 2009
Edward W. Said
I am enjoyed and Loved reading this book and I learned quite a bit. I understand the idea that the subject/topic Orientalism is a European created concept designed to promote the notion of European superiority and the supposed backwardness of Arabs. Much akin to the ideas Europeans used to push out Native Americans and enslave African Americans. The two experiences are different yet there is some common ground.
The first 120 pages were fairly simply to understand and grasp. At first I did not have trouble understanding the book but after page 123 I began to have some difficulty. Some of Dr. Said's vocabulary and terminologies are very advanced almost like the late William F. Buckley. However Dr. Said and Mr. Buckley would definitely disagree. The two of them would make a great debate.
The book is divided into three chapters. The first chapter lays the base or the foundation for the misconception of Orientalism, which I got. Chapter or Part Two discusses individual practioners or founders of Orientalism which I found more difficult to understand. Not having a full grasp of Middle-East history or European Colonialism made it harder for me to follow, however I plan to re-read this chapter or perhaps read other of Dr. Said's works.
Chapter Three deals with the consequences or outcomes of Orientalist thought and practice on modern relations with Arab countries. This I completely understand and had a good grasp of what Dr. Said was talking about. I look forward to reading more of Dr. Edward W. Said's books.
Posted November 12, 2008
Orientalism is one of the greatest literary pieces of modern times. The book is perfect, there are absolutely no problems in terms of contradiction in thought or in concepts. The book is extremely complex and demands multiple readings. This is a haunting book and truly transcendent. There has never been a study or research or a book that treats the issue of Orientalism on this scale. But perhaps the most important thing that one needs to understand is that Said's book is a reflection of his own experiences and the experiences of individuals and groups of Easterners in Western eyes. No matter how fierce the attacks are against Said and no matter how severe the criticism is against Said, he proved to be on target with this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 29, 2007
Said uses exquisite Scholarship and indisputable evidence from two centuries worth of European writing, and makes an unquestionable case about how western so called ¿Objective¿ and ¿Scientific¿ study of the East has been distorted and is far from describing reality. Said claims that the texts written about the Orient depict the Orient in a way that is not true.Said demonstrates using an in-depth case study how an entire field of study can be constructed out of self reinforcing fiction that tends to gather it¿s own inertia and develop it¿s own seemingly inconsistent world.. Orientalism also analyzes the complex relationship between knowledge and power, demonstrating the fallacy of taking knowledge for granted without analyzing and understanding the power structure that bought this knowledge into being.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 4, 2007
Edward Said is one of the most widely known and controversial intellectuals in the world today. Through his books Orientalism, The question of Palestine and Covering Islam Edward Said has down more than anyone else to demonstrate that like almost any other ethnic group people from the Middle East have always been misrepresented. This essay attempts to briefly examine Said¿s masterpiece Orientalism. Since the publication of this book the ideas of Orientalism have radically changed the study of the Middle East and have influenced many disciplines in literature, theory and criticism, and subsequently altered our view of knowledge, power and history. In his book Said asks why when we think about the Middle East do we have a preconceived notion of the people who live there, what they look like and what they do. What makes us not see that these are people with economic, social, political and personal interest like others in the world, arising from their material and historical circumstances?Said argues that there are many factors that have led to the way people think about the Middle East today, these factors have their roots in history. Said claims that the texts written about the Orient depict the Orient in a way that is not true. This Said states is because the Orientalist, poet or scholar, places himself outside the Orient and therefore creates a ¿Western¿ conception of the Orient in which the Oriental himself has absolutely no role in producing knowledge (Said 20).Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 28, 2003
Few books in the modern world have acquired the stature of Edward Said's 'Orientalism'. It has become the de facto authority on the Western perspective of the Middle Eastern and Oriental worlds. Using impeccable scholarship and irrefutable evidence from two centuries' worth of European writing about the East, Edward Said lays down an indisputable case about how Western so-called 'objective' and 'scientific' study of the East has been corrupted and is far from describing reality. 'Orientalism''s main achievement, however, spreads far beyond the arena of 'Oriental Studies' or 'Near Eastern Studies' as they are now called. This book demonstrates using an in-depth case study how an entire field of study can be constructed out of self-reinforcing fiction that tends to gather its own inertia and develop its own seemingly self-consistent world. 'Orientalism' therefore is a strong warning not only to Orientalists but to all unsuspecting researchers in any subject (even science) who might, deliberately or not, end up constructing their own mythical world. 'Orientalism' also analyses the intricate relationships between knowledge and power, demonstrating the fallacy of taking knowledge for granted without analyzing and understanding the power structure that brought this 'knowledge' into being. This is a highly recommended book. It's only weakness is that it can somewhat difficult reading, thanks to its author's genius and total mastery of the English language. I often had to underline difficult words and look them up in a dictionary, and read over some paragraphs again and again in order to grasp the complex ideas, so once I was done with the book my GRE score improved 100 points. Seriously, though, 'Orientalism' is a very perceptive and methodical study of an important topic today: the relationship between East and West.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 24, 2002
This book demonstrates how the 'Orient' became a reflective tool to articulate the existence and justify the behavior of the 'Occidental' colonial powers. The texts he examines attain an authority that obfuscates the reality they seek to describe; hence European cultural perspectives become subjects in a discourse, and the countries in the East become objects, or 'other.' The 'Orient' is seen as eternal and unchanging. Mr. Said deconstructs this notion effectively, even though he ignores other regions subjected to the same textual injustices---such as the Carribean. Colonialism there reached barbaric proportions, a result of a textual 'Africanism.' He also ignores gender, the discourse of the subaltern, and eventually reaches conclusions that are incomplete. In spite of these shortcomings, Orientalism remains a crucial book, particularly cogent in the wake of the events since September 11.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 13, 2001
Wow!I can't believe that I am the first to review this book. It is so important. Even though I am Jewish and have strong connections to Israel, this book was very helpful in explaining the 'other side.' Of course this book is not strictly about the crisis in Israel, but the central thesis of this book - that the West (mostly in a literary and intellectual sense) has historically misunderstood the East - is applicable to the situation in Israel and elsewhere. Please read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 29, 2008
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Posted April 29, 2009
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