Edward Said

Edward Said, who taught English and comparative literature at Columbia, was the author most famously of Orientalism. His other books include The Question of Palestine, Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine the Way We See the Rest of the World, Culture and Imperialism and Out of Place: A Memoir. He was also an accomplished pianist, and founded the West-Eastern Divan orchestra with the conductor Daniel Barenboim in 1999. He wrote forty pieces for the LRB on subjects including late style, the belly-dancer Tahia Carioca, meeting Sartre, and the Oslo Accords, ‘an instrument of Palestinian surrender, a Palestinian Versailles’. Said’s friend and former neighbour Michael Wood wrote about him in the paper after his death in 2003.

Thoughts on Late Style

Edward Said, 5 August 2004

Both in art and in our general ideas about the passage of human life there is assumed to be a general abiding timeliness. We assume that the essential health of a human life has a great deal to do with its correspondence to its time – the fitting together of the two – and is therefore defined by its appropriateness or timeliness. Comedy, for instance, seeks its material in...

“Anyone who believes that the road map offers anything resembling a settlement, or that it tackles the basic issues, is wrong. Like so much of the prevailing peace discourse, it places the need for restraint and renunciation and sacrifice squarely on Palestinian shoulders, thus denying the density and sheer gravity of Palestinian history. To read the road map is to confront an unsituated document, oblivious of its time and place.”

“This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology. What winning, or for that matter losing, such a war will ultimately entail is unthinkable. But pity the Iraqi civilians who must still suffer a great deal more before they are finally ‘liberated’.”

“After years of degeneration following the white man’s departure, the empires that ruled Africa and Asia don’t seem quite so bad. A crucial tactic of this revisionism is to read present-day American imperial power as enlightened and even altruistic, and to project that enlightenment back into the past.”

I can’t imagine that there are many Arabs or Iraqis who would not like to see Saddam Hussein removed, but all the indications are that US/Israeli military action would make things much worse on the ground.

Going Against: Is There a Late Style?

Frank Kermode, 5 October 2006

The odd thing is that most of the contributors to these books doubt whether it is possible to offer a clear and distinct idea of the subject under discussion. Indeed, Karen Painter, one of the...

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In Being and Nothingness Sartre has an admirable passage about the stubborn human tendency to ‘fill’, the fact that a good part of human life, in politics as elsewhere, is devoted to...

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What nations are for

Tom Nairn, 8 September 1994

The politics of dispossession is nationalism – an over-generalisation which at once calls for precise qualification. It is quite true that not all nationalists are dispossessed: possessors...

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In the Wilderness

W.J.T. Mitchell, 8 April 1993

The Foundation of Empire is Art and Science. Remove them or Degrade them and the Empire is no more. Empire follows Art and not vice versa as Englishmen suppose. William Blake,...

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Off the edge

Frank Kermode, 7 November 1991

The Wellek Library Lectures at the University of California, Irvine, are meant to be about Critical Theory, and up to now they have, for good or ill, been faithful (in their fashion) to that...

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Richard Wollheim, 19 March 1987

Professor Bernard Lewis enjoys a worldwide reputation as a scholar of Near-Eastern history, and in his most recent work, Semites and Anti-Semites, he has chosen to concentrate his formidable...

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Textual Harassment

Claude Rawson, 5 April 1984

In a recent review in this paper, Edward Said used the word ‘narrative’ about thirty times. This might have seemed a lot even in the present state of litcritspeak, and even in an...

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Malise Ruthven, 18 February 1982

Edward Said is the first Palestinian to have stormed the East Coast literary establishment. His achievement has partly been the result of what his more paranoid opponents must regard as his...

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Making peace

Dan Gillon, 3 April 1980

The Palestinian problem has been the subject of world-wide debate for more than a decade. Yet the issue is not well understood. The debate, for all its volume and intensity, has rarely managed to...

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