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Add This - Orientalism

Written by Edward W. SaidAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Edward W. Said

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • On Sale: October 12, 1979
  • Price: $16.95
  • ISBN: 978-0-394-74067-6 (0-394-74067-X)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

Updated with a new Afterword in 1994. In this acclaimed and now-classic work, Said examines the way in which the West has discovered, invented, and sought to control the East. Orientalism is a subtle and far-reaching critique of the attitudes that the West has traditionally assumed toward "the Orient," a phrase used to designate not only a vast portion of the earth but a people, a landscape, even a spirit.

Starting with the eighteenth century, Said describes how politicians, archaeologists, writers, and painters all shared the discovery, and conquest, of the mysterious East. From the French in Egypt to the British in India to America in Vietnam, the book traces the story of an obsession. The objects of Said's study range from the most famous authors and politicians, such as Flaubert and Disraeli, to the more obscure and relatively less know linguists and archaeologists. All, however, were caught in the connection between colonialism and our own systems of thought. Said argues that Orientalism tells us more about the Occident than it does about the East. At bottom, his book is a fascinating study of how imagination and scholarship interrelate, of how power and politics play crucial roles in the production of culture and knowledge.

"Intellectual history on [a] a high order." —John Leonard, The New York Times

"Orientalism . . . remains one of the sturdiest intellectual monuments of our time. . . . Said's exegeses of the writers who, professing objectivity and sympathy, could not suppress their condescension and dislike or hide their political agendas compel us to examine our own carelessly stereotypical thinking about Arabs and Islam and, by extension, to ask whether any representation of another culture is necessarily compromised." —Janet Malcolm, The New Yorker

"The theme is the way in which intellectual traditions are created and transmitted. . . . Orientalism is the example Mr. Said uses, and by it he means something precise. The scholar who studies the Orient (and specifically the Muslim Orient), the imaginative writer who takes it as his subject, and the institutions which have been concerned with teaching it, settling it, ruling it, all have a certain representation or idea of the Orient defined as being other than the Occident, mysterious, unchanging and ultimately inferior." —Albert Hourani, The New York Review of Books

"A stimulating, elegant yet pugnacious essay which is going to puncture a lot of complacencies. Professor Said is a Palestinian Arab who...uses this privileged vantage point to observe the West observing the Arabs, and he does not like what he finds." —Patrick Seale, The Observer

"An important book. . . . It is bound to usher in a new epoch in the world's attitude to Oriental studies and Oriental scholarship. Never has there been as sustained and as persuasive a case against Orientalism as Said's." —Nissim Rejwans, Jerusalem Post


The Scope of Orientalism
1. Knowing the Oriental
2. Imaginative Geography and Its Representations: Orientalizing the Oriental
3. Projects
4. Crisis

Orientalist Structures and Restructures
1. Redrawn Frontiers, Redefined Issues, Secularized Religion
2. Silvestre de Sacy and Ernest Renan: Rational Anthropology and Philological Laboratory
3. Oriental Residence and Scholarship: The Requirements of Lexicography and Imagination
4. Pilgrims and Pilgrimages, British and French

Orientalism Now
1. Latent and Manifest Orientalism
2. Style, Expertise, Vision: Orientalism's Worldliness
3. Modern Anglo-French Orientalism in Fullest Flower
4. The Latest Phase