Orientalism

Orientalism

Book - 1979
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The author presents a critique of the Western World's historical, cultural, and political perceptions of the East and Arab people. In this study, the author traces the origins of the West's concept of "Orientalism" to the centuries-long period during which Europe dominated the Middle and Near East.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Vintage Books, a division of Random House,, 1979.
Edition: 25th anniversary edition.
Copyright Date: ©1978
ISBN: 9780394740676
Characteristics: xxx, 394 pages ;,21 cm.

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dnk
Aug 07, 2018

One of the best books I've ever read, period. Also one of the most difficult; the material is densely packed, and someone who is used to reading 100 pages per day should congratulate themselves if they can get through fifteen. But it's worth it; anyone who's ever heard the racism in stereotypes about anywhere east of Russia will find relief in this material--you haven't been imagining it, and it has a long, convoluted history (you'll want to read Dante and Aeschylus a little more carefully).

It's worth stressing that ultimately this work is more about what Western Europe and later The West thought about The Other than what The Other actually was. Take heart though: throughout the period he describes (roughly the 14th through mid 20th centuries), there were plenty of writers and thinkers who understood the prejudices as nonsense and savaged them.

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shianco
May 11, 2017

An absolutely brilliant and devastating read. Said does the truest, noblest of dirty work: he sifts through the piles and piles of literature that perpetuates imaginative stereotypes of the East, for and by the West.

s
Sandy_102
Apr 25, 2011

A very frustrating read for anyone who is not well versed in the complexities of academic jargon. One wonders if Said is making fun of the reader or if he does not wish to be understood. In the Afterword, he complains that his book has been misunderstood by many people; perhaps if he wrote in a more clear and concise manner, being misunderstood would not be an issue.

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Sandy_102
Apr 25, 2011

"My thesis is that the essential aspects of modern Orientalist theory and praxis (from which present-day Orientalism derives) can be understood, not as a sudden access of objective knowledge about the Orient, but as a set of structures inherited from the past, secularized, redisposed, and re-formed by such disciplines as philology, which in turn were naturalized, modernized, and laicized substitutes for (or versions of) Christian supernaturalism."

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