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... told me – I think it was in 1973 – took me completely by surprise. ‘Have you noticed,’ she said, ‘how X and Y politicians are beginning to talk about “the Lebanese cause” [al-qaddiyah al Libnanyah]? This is sheer nonsense. There is a Palestinian cause, there is an Arab cause, but there is no Lebanese cause. I love Lebanon, but our meaning is what ...
Aisha 
by Ahdaf Soueif.
Cape, 159 pp., £7.50, July 1983, 0 224 02097 8
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... In this small-scale and intimate first collection of stories by Ahdaf Soueif there is a remarkably productive, somewhat depressing tension between the anecdotal surface of modern, Westernised Egyptian life and the troubling, often violent but always persisting traditional forms beneath. In one story, cajoled and pleaded to by her family and importunate suitors, Marianne is nevertheless seduced by an engineer whose Eau Sauvage, silk robe and Zamalek flat are to her the height of an irresistible worldliness: after she becomes his mistress it is discovered, however, that he runs a vice ring ...
... of Arab Discontent’, and contains the following passage: No sooner had the Arab/Muslim world said farewell to the wrath and passion of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s crusade than another contender rose in Baghdad. The new claimant was made of material different from the turbaned saviour from Qum: Saddam Hussein was not a writer of treatises on Islamic ...

On Writing a Memoir

Edward Said: Living by the Clock, 29 April 1999

... without will. Yet the overriding sensation I had was of never being quite right. As I have said before in these pages, it took me about fifty years to become accustomed to, or more exactly to feel less uncomfortable with, ‘Edward’, a foolishly English name yoked to the unmistakably Arabic family name ‘...

On board the ‘Fiona’

Edward Said, 19 December 1991

In Search of Conrad 
by Gavin Young.
Hutchinson, 304 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 09 173524 6
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... Conrad enthusiasts subdivide into two categories. Both are convinced that so peculiar and haunting are his life and work, so utterly without precedents or successful emulators, that only an all-out, full-scale, total exertion – no gracefully written or tasteful essays here – can even begin to get hold of his astonishing oeuvre. Category one believes that the exertion should be to nail down all the known details of Conrad’s travels and readings, thereby tying the fiction to real places and personages, and, whenever possible, actual books and ideas, that help explain the mysterious novels and stories ...

Who is worse?

Edward Said, 20 October 1994

... of the Palestinians recognised no Palestinian rights, but merely an organisation said to represent that people as ‘a suitable negotiating partner’. In other words, Rabin recognised the Palestinian leadership only in order then to wrest concessions from it. The Palestinian people’s losses, suffering and future were handed over to Israel ...

In Memory of Tahia

Edward Said: Tahia Carioca, 28 October 1999

... about my lacklustre performance with the great woman. ‘You should have winked at her,’ Aida said dismissively, as if such a thing were even imaginable. Tahia Carioca was the most stunning and long-lived of the Arab world’s Eastern dancers (belly-dancers, as they are called today). Her career lasted sixty years, from her first days as a dancer at ...

Alexander the Brilliant

Edward Said, 18 February 1988

Corruptions of Empire: Life Studies and the Reagan Era 
by Alexander Cockburn.
Verso, 479 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 86091 176 4
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... legacies left Johnson by Kennedy’. ‘A writer who can be so universally admiring,’ I.F. Stone said about White, ‘need never lunch alone.’ But Cockburn is equally – and occasionally even more – uncompromising in his attacks upon the well-intentioned liberal, who is quick to fault human rights practices in countries like Nicaragua and the Soviet ...

America and Libya

Edward Said, 8 May 1986

... who cluster around the disturbingly vague and incompetent Great Communicator. For them, Stockman said, ‘reality-time’ was the seven o’clock evening news on television. How did we look and sound? they ask themselves, as if public policy were some sort of show designed to entertain and please ‘the American people’ once a day, five nights a week. On ...

Diary

Edward Said: Reflections on the Hebron Massacre, 7 April 1994

... made a connection between Baruch Goldstein, political Judaism and Zionism itself. All of them, he said correctly, are aspects of each other: they can’t be broken up into smaller, separate units called ‘single deranged extremist’ or ‘mainstream Zionism’. Much of what Zionism has been long telling its supporters is that Zionism and Judaism are one and ...

Paulin’s People

Edward Said, 9 April 1992

Minotaur: Poetry and the Nation State 
by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 298 pp., £15.99, January 1992, 0 571 16308 4
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... as well as ‘a self-abasing admiration for rigid order’. Like Hugh MacDiarmid, Paulin said, Hopkins had a ‘risky, over-the-top extremism’ to his imagination, and while in Ireland in 1887-8 gave vent in his verse to ‘revolutionary intoxication, an expressionist whap of pure energy’ inspired by his perception that he belonged to ‘a ...

The Academy of Lagado

Edward Said: The US Administration’s misguided war, 17 April 2003

... complicated society, its internal dynamics and contradictions. Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle said exactly that in 1996, when they were acting as consultants to Benjamin Netanyahu’s election campaign. That the Iraqis would be willing to accept more punishment from America, in addition to Saddam’s tyranny, on the off chance that they would be ...

Is Israel more secure now?

Edward Said: Israel’s Dead End, 3 January 2002

... and Sciences in Cambridge. These discussions were all to do with Israeli security: nothing was said about Palestinian security, nothing at all, and the struggle of his people to achieve an independent state was left to one side. Indeed, Israeli security to the exclusion of anything else has become the recognised international priority which allows General ...

My Guru

Edward Said: Elegy for Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, 13 December 2001

... that he was a graduate student), and then, as he was leaving, turned and asked me what I had said my name was. When I told him again he came all the way back into the office and asked me where I was from. I said something like I’m from Egypt now, but formerly I was from Palestine. His face lit up: I’m from ...

Crazy America

Edward Said, 19 March 1981

... and symbols of freedom, their captors into subhuman beasts. To this end the New York Times said editorially on 22 January, ‘Let there be rage and revulsion in those first hours of release,’ and then, having reflected for a while, came up with the following questions on 28 January: ‘What should have been done? Mining harbours, or landing ...

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