C L A S S I C S. ORIENTALISM. Edward W. Said was University Professor at Columbia University, where he has taught English and Comparative Literature. He. For generations now, Edward W. Said’s Orientalism has defined our understanding of colonialism and empire, and this Penguin Modern. Edward W. Said, in his groundbreaking book, Orientalism, defined it as the acceptance in the West of “the basic distinction between East and West as the starting.

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Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Orientalism by Edward W. Orientalism by Edward W. Jean-Leon Gerome Orisntalismus Artist. With a new preface by the author.

Orientalism by Edward W. Said

He traces this view through t With a new preface by the author. In his new preface, Said examines the effect of continuing Western imperialism after recent events in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq. Paperback25th Anniversary Editionpages. Published October 12th by Vintage first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Orientalism – Edward W. Said – Google Books

To ask other readers questions about Orientalismplease sign up. Has anyone read any critique of this? To me – Said’s talk of Orientalism is based on some definition of an Occident.

He does to the Occident what he claims the Occident did to the Orient. This might be a way of revenge, but there is one major academic flaw.

Anyone here who has done some readings about that? Madeleine he takes on a lot of these critiques in his afterward and cites those who were accusing him of a reverse “occidentalizing” tendency- and responds …more he takes on a lot of these critiques in his afterward and cites those who were accusing him of a reverse “occidentalizing” tendency- and responds directly that he was seeking to not discuss power relations in the same homogenizing binary but rather to create a narrative conglomerating texts to create a “multicultural critique of power using knowledge to advance itself” less.

Has anyone of you read this book? I am sorry that the author did not live long enough to that Europeans were not terribly askewed in their notion of orient. Time somewhat proved them correct. Bos this book is written with extra effort and proves so, no need to take the help from time. See all 8 questions about Orientalism…. Lists with This Book. Apr 11, Erica rated it really liked it. The following is a true story: Me, in a San Franscisco bar reading Orientalism.

The blonde girl next to me reading over my shoulder: You know what book you should read? The Tao of Poo. It’s, like, the perfect way to teach Americans about Eastern Religion. View all 29 comments. Jan 07, J. Keely rated it liked it Shelves: There’s a curious double-standard between what we expect from White guy authors compared to authors of any other background.

When an author is a Native American, for example, we tend to expect their books to deliver to us the ‘Native American experience’. If the author is a woman, we tend to expect that her book will show us the ‘female perspective’–to the degree that female authors who write stories about men are forced to take on a masculine or nondescript name, like J.

So we get We There’s a curious double-standard between what we expect from White guy authors compared to authors of any other background. So we get Western-educated authors like AchebeHosseiniand Momaday who write thoroughly traditional novels in the Western style and then place a thin veneer of their own ethnic background onto those stories, and are praised for it in academia, because their work meets expectation: As a White male author, on the other hand, the expectation is that you won’t stick to your own cultural identity, but will instead attempt to explore the breadth and depth of human experience through characters of many backgrounds–and why not?


White guys have been doing it for centuries, and we love them for it. In fact, the problem here is not that White guys are encouraged to take on other roles, its that non-White, non-male folks are discouraged from doing so.

As Said points out: So here I am: White guy, trying to explore humanity, writing a bit of fiction about Colonialism, about the English rule in Egypt and India, featuring characters of different backgrounds–but it’s daunting. I don’t want to do it thoughtlessly, and though I take a great deal of inspiration from Haggard, Kipling, Conrad, and Burton, I don’t want to incidentally adopt their shortcomings along with the interesting bits.

So I thought I might combat their prejudices by taking in the most notable and talked-about book on interactions and stereotypes between The West and The East. However, Orientalism was not what I expected; but then again, it wasn’t what Said expected, either. The whole of the book is Said looking closely at a dozen authors, mostly French and English, some academics, some fiction writers, and giving examples of a number of quotes for each where they talk about ‘The East’ in ways that demonstrate a certain bias.

That’s pretty much it, all four-hundred pages. Why spend that long on such a specific topic?

Because this book was meant for a small academic publication, and that’s what specialized academics do. Now, if you’ve read any of the other reviews of this oientalismus on GR, you’d get the impression that Said is an enraged polemicist who spends the whole book denigrating ‘The West’ and praising ‘The East’.

What is Orientalism?

Indeed, once I realized the scope of this work and that it wasn’t likely to help with my specific writing concernI almost abandoned it, but I wanted to get to the ‘angry Said’ part where he defames Western civilization, just to see how bad it got. Said’s tone throughout the book is exceedingly dry and cautious–too much so, for my taste, I’ve been known to enjoy a good diatribe–so any prejudicial anger a reader might find in this book is only what they brought in with them.

The notion that Said is anti-Western or Pro-Islam is such a bizarrely inexplicable misreading that the only reason a reader could come away from the book with that belief is if they brought in a huge set of prejudices and then ignored everything Said actually wrote.

There is no more unity between all Islamic nations than there is between all Christian nations. Trying to place a line between Greece and Turkey and claiming these are separate cultures is artificial. This is not in and of itself something to be lamented; the specific form of the satellite relationship, however, is.

But then, the fact that there are prejudiced readers is hardly surprising: I get comments from people who don’t realize that Islam is an Abrahamic religion–sharing the same holy books, prophets, and god as Christianity and Judaism–people who aren’t aware that a ‘fatwa’ just means any public statement by a scholar. You read about American military consultants in the Middle East who don’t know the difference between Shia and Sunni.

Very few these days would connect this quote: I remember seeing a supposedly humorous map where the Middle East was replaced by an impact crater, with the words ‘Problem Solved’ beneath it, completely ignoring the fact that the reason there is constant conflict there is because powerful First World countries have gone in, supplied both sides with cheap guns, made Opium the only profitable crop for farmers to grow, and set up regimes whose sole purpose is to funnel money and natural resources out of those countries and into multinational banks–any region is going to be politically unstable under those conditions.

Of course, the way Arabs are commonly typified as backward is the same way people typify ant outgroup: I was constantly struck by the fact that the separation Said depicts between the ideas of East and West were not specific to that cultural conflict, but were the same generic type of power separation laid out by Marx: They operate off of the same self-serving justifications for their rule: Extending the narrow focus of his argument and showing that this is how power works everywhere, at all times, would have made his work stronger, overall.


As I read, it seemed that what Said was saying was clearly true, but not in a revelatory way.

I kept waiting for Said to take it to the next level, to elevate these basic, naked observations to some profound and insightful conclusion.

Of course European, Christian powers would mythologize and simplify Islam, of course they would make a phantom enemy of it, while at the same time trading, allying, and sharing sources of inspiration with it–that is no more than differing cultures have always done, as Said points out. What great insight into this system is meant to shock me? Am I simply too much the postmodern, atheistic American to see what he says as anything but basic and inescapable?

Of course we are all Quixote and Pangloss: But, even if we are all human, and all power structures operate in the same ways, there should still be some specifics which set this incidence apart. I was waiting for Said to do some serious unpacking. And yet, just as he seems to be reaching a kind of specificity, he breaks off: This is an academic work with a very narrow scope. It is meant to give a view of a very specific trend in Orientalist criticism amongst a group of authors, and not to force on the reader any specific conclusion about what this trend means, or how it operates on a minute level, except to point out that it does in fact exist, and that it represents familiar power dynamics.

That is the purpose and the effect of this book, and it invites the reader to use it to extend these examples into specific arguments and observations of their own, to use the general roadmap provided as a guide for their own work.

Since Said is not specific, we cannot know just how accurate his analysis is unless we can compare it to our own readings of the same works, so it can only be a companion to our studies and not a work which, on its own, develops a unique view which we can use, as scholars, going forward. View all 27 comments. Apr 17, Trevor rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is a fascinatingly interesting book. It is also a book that is virtually required reading if you are going to say anything at all about post-colonialism.

Whether you agree or disagree with the central theme of the book is almost beside the point. This work is seminal and landmark — so it can be avoided only at your own cost.

I think, if I only wanted to get an idea of what the book This is a fascinatingly interesting book. Look, it is all beautifully written and utterly fascinating too — but like I said, life is short and this is the sort of book that covers more ground that you might feel you really need covered.

Said is tracing the history of an idea and in that idea the exotic East was the Middle Orientallismus long before it was the Far East. That is what makes this book essential reading. If there is one thing that is increasingly being used to define our understanding of the world today — in the way that the Cold War defined our world for large parts of the 20th Ogientalismus — it is the relationship between the West and Islam.

That we are pluralistic, they are clones. The main lesson of this book is to beware as soon as anyone starts using the word WE.