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For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and their Enemies Hardcover – 26 Jan 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; First Edition edition (26 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713994150
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713994155
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 3.7 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,057,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Robet Irwin's non-fiction includes The Arabian Nights: A Companion, Islamic Art, Night & Horses & the Desert: An Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature and The Alhambra. He is also the author of many novels. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Fellow of the London Institute of Pataphysics.

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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Gerard Noonan on 8 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
Irwin seeks to refute the thesis, propounded most vehemently by Edward Said, that orientalism, the study of Islamic society from historical, sociological, cultural and other points of view, was/is the handmaiden of Western imperialism in the Middle East. Far from being imperialistically-minded, Irwin argues that orientalist scholars were/are motivated merely by a lust for knowing. Given the influence of religion in Europe (and indeed the world over) until quite recently, it is unsurprising to discover that curiosity regarding the Middle East was originally motivated by a desire to add background detail to the Bible stories: where exactly was Mount Sinai?; how did people live during biblical times? etc. With the rise of secularism, orientalist studies continued to justify themselves as straightforward scholarship. Irwin denies that there was a sinister relationship between orientalists and European imperialism. Academic pedants with little interest in contemporary matters, the majority of Orientalists had little connection with imperialism. Strikingly, those who did interest themselves in colonialism tended to oppose it in solidarity with Arab peoples: As Irwin writes, `There has been a marked tendency for Orientalists to be anti-imperialists, as their enthusiasm for Arab or Persian or Turkish culture often went hand in hand with a dislike of seeing those people defeated and dominated by the Italians, Russians, British or French' (p. 204). Such anti-imperialists included Leone Caetani, Edward Granville Browne, Louis Massignon, Jacques Berque, Vincent Monteil, and Claude Cahen, to name just a few.Read more ›
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Sophocles on 8 Dec. 2008
Format: Paperback
The absurd one-star review of this brilliant book should not be allowed to stand as Amazon's only review. Superbly reviewed by the Guardian and the Telegraph, by the Spectator and the Independent, and by dozens of others across the world, this is a fair and balanced, rich and passionate defence of those from the Western tradition who have sought to understand the Orient. It demolishes Said's discredited thesis and provides a masterly analysis of the subject. It is a worthy companion to Ibn Warraq's Defending the West.
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By Andrew Mottram on 11 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Delivery time a little late, despite additional cost, but the book was brand new and will take pride of place on my bookshelf. An excellent intellectual history of studies into the 'Orient', very readable, fascinating and erudite. Only just started it, but looking forward to reading the rest!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lightcavalryman on 25 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
Superb distillation of arguments in favour of a profound western fascination for the orient, utterly absorbing, penetrating, entering deeply into its subject, an intellectual feast.
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