Few works are more deserving of the 'Modern Classic' label that Penguin has given this book. Perhaps it is only after nearly twenty year since its first publication that we are able to appreciate the prophetic and uniquely influential nature of Said's insights into the roots of the 'West's' antagonism towards the 'Orient'. For what is, in effect, little more than a book of literary criticism, the ramifications for all areas of scholarly research and investigation are remarkable. On a personal level it is a book that has profoundly affected both my political and academic outlook and forced a re-evaluation of my attitudes (and not just towards the Middle-East) and, more significantly, the underlying deceits or conspiracies of history on which they are founded. I urge every person in a position of power to study this canonical work. That it is hard reading does not detract from but adds to the power of the work; at every moment Said's intimidating (but inspiringly humanistic and humane) scholarship is in evidence and one can only marvel at his analytical dexterity. Those who see the book as repetative and hypocritically reductive have failed to grasp the true substance which is in the criticism and not primarily in the conclusions which are, for the most part, self-evident, as Said himself declares from the outset.
There will, I am sure, continue be numerous wilful misreadings of 'Orientalism' and that it continues to provoke such controversy is a testament to its brilliance. Ignore them and read it.