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Culture And Imperialism [Paperback]

Edward W Said
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Jan 1994
Following his profoundly influential study, Orientalism, Edward Said now examines western culture. From Jane Austen to Salman Rushdie, from Yeats to media coverage of the Gulf War, Culture and Imperialism is a broad, fierce and wonderfully readable account of the roots of imperialism in European culture.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (6 Jan 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099967502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099967507
  • Product Dimensions: 3.3 x 12.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Edward Said was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He was the author of more than twenty books, including Orientalism, Culture and Imperialism and On Late Style and his essays and reviews appeared in newspapers and periodicals throughout the world. Edward Said died in September 2003.

(Photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe)

Product Description


"Culture and Imperialism has an eloquent, urgent topicality rare in books by literary critics" (Camille Paglia)

"Readers accustomed to the precision and elegance of Edward Said's analytical prowess will not be disappointed by Culture and Imperialism. Those discovering Said for the first time will be profoundly impressed" (Toni Morrison)

"Edward Said helps us to understand who we are and what we must do if we are to aspire to be moral agents, not servants of power" (Noam Chomsky)

About the Author

Edward Said was born in Jerusalem in 1935. In 1951 he attended a private preparatory high school in Massachusetts, America and he went on to study at Princeton University for his BA and at Yale for his MA and PhD. He became University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia Unversity. Said was bestowed with numerous honorary doctorates from universities around the world and twice received Columbia's Trilling Award and the Wellek Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association. He is best known for describing and critiquing 'Orientalism' and his book on the subject was published in 1978. He died in 2003.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
103 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Impressive and Urgently Topical. 14 Feb 2004
This is a truly masterful and enigmatic work that is immensely readable despite its well-earned reputation. Consequently this is a book that will and should be of interest to everyone, from the specialist to the casual reader who has never encountered theory before.
So why then Culture and Imperialism?
Western societies seem to have entered a phase of collective amnesia whereby colonialism, if it is remembered at all, is envisioned as ending somewhere along the length of the Suez Canal.
Said's thoughtful analysis challenges the modern myth of the end of Empire and of the slow decline of an age of economic and cultural imperialism which came to an end sometime after 1948 with the final dropping of the Union Jack in the final colonially occupied territory.
In many ways economic and cultural imperialism is as pervasive and violent today as it ever was, if not a little more so. Indeed, Said's brilliance in this book is to fundamentally disrupt and deconstruct the modern Western amnesia. Far from being back then and over there Said helps us to trace the links, connections, and complicities between writers as diverse as Jane Austen, J. S. Mill and W. B. Yeats.
For anyone with an interest in postcolonialism Culture and Imperialism is an essential grounding. Not only does the text follow on from Said's brilliant and ground-breaking Ur text of postcolonial studies Orientalism, but it suggests the possibility and methodology of subjecting imperialism to a systemic analysis.
Said has always been controversial, and rightly so. Unlike the quite frankly shoddy and poorly argued vitriol of some of his detractors (and reviewers) Said's work is always superbly well argued and controlled. Whether you support Said's point of view or not you cannot but fail to be impressed by his depth of insight and by the humanism of his intelligence.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars review of Culture and Imperialism 25 July 2009
Contrapuntal and contrapuntally are words that Edward Said uses to describe both the relationship between culture and imperialism, and the way that relationship may be apprehended. In essence: there are two thematic principals in culture, one dominant, and one subordinate (less visible), but crucially these two themes operate in an interdependent and highly dynamic manner. Specifically, Said is interested in examining the "interacting experience that links imperializers with the imperialized." (pg.194). In Culture and Imperialism, his crowning achievement published in 1993, Said examines this interacting experience through the prism of literature, his area of especial expertise.

Said begins his huge and difficult task by discussing, in general terms, the way that in the West (the dominant imperializers since the sixteenth century) cultural representations of the non-European world are crude, reductionist and often racist. Said believes this tendency is not accidental but systematic and part of an imperial impulse that needs to dominate. Voices of the non-European world in Western culture are not expected to be heard, and are deliberately, if not always consciously, suppressed. In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, for example, the world of the Caribbean plantation is only peripherally referred to, though its existence and economic exploitation are essential to the well-being of the novel's main characters. When referred to, the plantation is subordinate and dominated--no non-European voices are heard. This illustrates one of Said's key arguments: "the experience of the stronger party overlaps and, strangely, depends on the weaker.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greater of the Said studies 11 May 2009
The name of Edward Said will forever be associated mostly with his famous masterpiece, "Orientalism" (Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (Penguin Modern Classics)) in which he studied many historical and literary texts of the 18th and 19th century to criticize the imperialist background of the field of 'Oriental studies', as it was known at the time. Despite its fame however, "Orientalism" is a difficult read for most people, lacking a clear structure and containing long excursions on generally obscure travel books from the 1820s and so on.

For the readers intrigued by the idea of "Orientalism" but who seek a more structured, accessible and explicitly political version of the same, "Culture and Imperialism" is the ideal book. It is perhaps for these reasons better than "Orientalism" at achieving its purpose, since Said's writing style is also generally better and more polemically strong in this book, and the literary studies are less obscure and more clearly linked to the topic. Though much of it still consists of 'lit crit', there is in this book a direct analysis of the imperialist contents and their historical background of such famous works as "Mansfield Park", Joseph Conrad, the "Aida" of Verdi and the oeuvre of Camus. Said brings all his erudition and subtlety of judgement to bear on these and similar products of culture, and the result is an engrossing, stimulating and effective polemic, while generally lacking in an actual outright polemical tone.

Also of interest is that a significant part of the book is concerned with the counter-imperialist products of culture, from the poetry of Yeats to the evocative works of Fanon and Achebe.
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