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Winged Words

Tariq Ali: On Muhammad, 17 June 2021

by Maxime Rodinson, translated by Anne Carter.
NYRB, 373 pp., £14.99, March 2021, 978 1 68137 492 5
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... biography of the Prophet of Islam was written by a left-wing French Jewish intellectual in 1961. Maxime Rodinson’s Life of Muhammad was a formative influence on my generation. It seemed to be the first real attempt to come to terms with a culture that could not be understood through sacred texts or works of exegesis alone. ...

Death to America Day

Roger Hardy, 15 September 1988

Europe and the Mystique of Islam 
by Maxime Rodinson, translated by Roger Veinus.
Tauris, 163 pp., £19.50, April 1988, 1 85043 104 3
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The Political Language of Islam 
by Bernard Lewis.
Chicago, 168 pp., £11.95, July 1988, 0 226 47692 8
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Islam and Revolution in the Middle East 
by Henry Munson.
Yale, 180 pp., £15.95, June 1988, 0 300 04127 6
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... Egypt in 1798. Is the history of Islam and the West, then, merely a record of battles and bigotry? Maxime Rodinson’s Europe and the Mystique of Islam makes clear that the relationship has been much subtler. By chronicling, succinctly and elegantly, the West’s changing images of Islam, Rodinson – one of the leading ...

One day I’ll tell you what I think

Adam Shatz: Sartre in Cairo, 22 November 2018

No Exit: Arab Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre and Decolonisation 
by Yoav Di-Capua.
Chicago, 355 pp., £26, March 2018, 978 0 226 50350 9
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The Stillborn: Notebooks of a Woman from the Student-Movement Generation in Egypt 
by Arwa Salih, translated by Samah Selim.
Seagull, 163 pp., £20, April 2018, 978 0 85742 483 9
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... to a delivery of Czech arms. Only a handful of writers – notably the Arabist Jacques Berque, and Maxime Rodinson, a Marxist Jewish scholar of Islam who had lost much of his family in the camps – were even aware of the Palestinian catastrophe. Most people found it hard to distinguish Arab opposition to Israel from anti-Jewish hostility. The often ...

Khomeini’s Rule

Nikki Keddie, 7 March 1985

The Reign of the Ayatollahs: Iran and the Islamic Revolution 
by Shaul Bakhash.
Tauris, 282 pp., £13.95, January 1985, 1 85043 003 9
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The State and Revolution in Iran: 1962-1982 
by Hossein Bashiriyeh.
Croom Helm, 203 pp., £16.95, April 1983, 0 7099 3214 6
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... religious traditions, Islam is in many respects the one most open to modernity. Certainly, as Maxime Rodinson has demonstrated, Islam has long been favourable to economic activity. Those who saw in Khomeini a Gandhian who wanted to take Iran back to the spinning-wheel were always mistaken. However, it is important to remember that almost any broad ...


Adam Shatz, 6 May 2021

Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said 
by Timothy Brennan.
Bloomsbury, 437 pp., £20, March 2021, 978 1 5266 1465 0
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... While he praised the work of Orientalist scholars, including Louis Massignon, Jacques Berque and Maxime Rodinson, he also sometimes implied that the entire tradition of Orientalist scholarship was a corrupted form of power-knowledge. But then what distinguished an eminent figure like Berque from Lewis or from a vulgar propagandist such as Daniel ...

Balfour, Weizmann and the Creation of Israel

Charles Glass: Palestine, 7 June 2001

One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate 
by Tom Segev, translated by Haim Watzman.
Little, Brown, 612 pp., £25, January 2001, 0 316 64859 0
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Ploughing Sand: British Rule in Palestine 1917-48 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Murray, 290 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 7195 6322 4
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... or what in a later context would be called ‘ethnic cleansing’. In 1973, the French Marxist Maxime Rodinson’s book Israel: A Colonial Settler State? required a question-mark in its title that Segev and Shepherd would probably remove. In what he referred to as ‘an obvious diagnosis’, Rodinson took Israeli ...

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