New York Times Book Review
Reflections on Exile and Other Essaysby Edward W. Said
With their powerful blend of political and aesthetic concerns, Edward W. Said's writings have transformed the field of literary studies. This long-awaited collection of literary and cultural essays, the first since Harvard University Press published The World, the Text, and the Critic in 1983, reconfirms what no one can doubt--that Said is the most impressive, consequential, and elegant critic of our time--and offers further evidence of how much the fully engaged critical mind can contribute to the reservoir of value, thought, and action essential to our lives and our culture.
As in the title essay, the widely admired "Reflections on Exile," the fact of his own exile and the fate of the Palestinians have given both form and the force of intimacy to the questions Said has pursued. Taken together, these essays--from the famous to those that will surprise even Said's most assiduous followers--afford rare insight into the formation of a critic and the development of an intellectual vocation. Said's topics are many and diverse, from the movie heroics of Tarzan to the machismo of Ernest Hemingway to the shades of difference that divide Alexandria and Cairo. He offers major reconsiderations of writers and artists such as George Orwell, Giambattista Vico, Georg Lukacs, R. P. Blackmur, E. M. Cioran, Naguib Mahfouz, Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, Walter Lippman, Samuel Huntington, Antonio Gramsci, and Raymond Williams. Invigorating, edifying, acutely attentive to the vying pressures of personal and historical experience, his book is a source of immeasurable intellectual delight.
New York Times Book Review
For more than a third of a century, Columbia University professor Said has written insightfully about literature, culture, and the Middle East. This volume gathers nearly 50 essays, most on literary subjects, although Said also addresses philosophy and history, the arts and current events.
As these essays make clear, Said is engaged on a quest to connect what people want with the way they must live, even if that means discovering that the two ways are sometimes irreconcilable. His is a passionate strategy...[The essays are] little lamps that light up the great tangled forest of literature and philosophy.
The collection, much more than the sum of its parts, is the portrait of an exemplary intellectual life, in which rigor and clarity join with courage and commitment, and both with a rare kind of unswerving joy at the complex face of reality...This is surely a major work, among the most provocative and cogent accounts of culture and the humanities that America has produced in recent years. Said's essays have a remarkable unity of position, given their temporal range. They contain no major swervings, no apologiesonly a gradual maturing of his best insights, as they are applied to changing circumstances in politics and the academy...If there is a change in Said's thinking, it is perhaps a subtle shift toward greater hopefulness.
Martha C. Nussbaum
Said's work has been transformative...[Reflections on Exile is] indispensable for all college and university libraries.
Edward Said may be the world's most famous English professor, and its most famous Palestinian after Yasir Arafat...Said turned 65 last year, having survived a life-threatening disease of the blood diagnosed nearly a decade ago. It is not surprising, therefore, that his recent publications have taken a retrospective turn...His latest book, Reflections on Exilea monumental collection of essays spanning his 35 year career at Columbia Universityis another result of his effort to impose thematic unity on his wide-ranging intellectual life.
These essays...form a remarkably cohesive whole and attest to the rigor and passionate seriousness of a lifetime of scholarship.
Henry St. Maurice
The collection will serve as an ideal primer in the evolution of a critical position that established [Said's] international reputationand gained him some fierce opponentsas a leading intellectual voice in the humanities
One of the many pleasures of this volume lies in Said's command of the personal essay
This collection contains a variety of essays that equally display his aesthetic refinement, his comparative perspective, his interdisciplinary spirit, and his ideological conviction.
Said's agile mind and learned voice are irreplaceable: no one combined his background and activism as a Palestinian with his magisterial criticism of literature, music, culture, and politics throughout a world increasingly divided into fundamentalist camps
He was fully engaged with every part of the world, a goal of every educated person, and one that I wish for everyone's summer reading.
Henry St. Maurice
Meet the Author
Edward W. Said was University Professor at Columbia University.
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