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Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (Penguin History) [Paperback]

Edward W. Said
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 Feb 1995 Penguin History
Providing an overview of western attitudes towards the East, this book sets out to challenge established western views of the Orient and of the Arab and Islamic world.

Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (23 Feb 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140238670
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140238679
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 288,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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

About the Author

EDWARD W. SAID is University Professor at Columbia University. He was born in Jerusalem in 1935 and educated in Egypt and the United States. His other books include THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE, CULTURE AND IMPERIALISM, OUT OF PLACE: A MEMOIR. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
On June 13, 1910, Arthur James Balfour lectured the House of Commons on "the problems with which we have to deal in Egypt." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instant classic 18 Aug 2010
By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are hesitating between 'Orientalism' and 'Culture and Empire', 'Orientalism' is probably the book to get. It was Sad's first and original contribution, and it is about culture, his field, more than about history, in which he was not a specialist.

Sad argues that Orientalism paved the ground for, and was later sustained by, colonialism in that it created fixed categories by which the Orient became known to Europeans. These stereotyped views emphasizing, say, fatalism, superstition, or a lack of a conception of liberty, predisposed Europeans to rule over the peoples they classified as Oriental. Sad's point is that Orientalism owed more to textual analysis than to actual conditions in the East, enabling Europeans to project their own fantasies, wishes, and prejudices onto Orientals. History and archaeology, for example, interpreting the Orient through its classical cultures (ancient Egypt, Sanskrit, Sufi poetry, etc..), supported perceptions of Orientals as impervious to progress and at the same time of civilisations in decline and therefore in need of regeneration through European power. While some of Sad's references are obscure, especially of some twentieth-century Orientalists, many draw from mainstream literature (Dante, Flaubert, Lane) or immediately graspable travel, historical, and political works. Most are entertaining and thought-provoking, sometimes hilarious, and Sad's exegesis is consistently witty and incisive.

Sad's is no doubt a partial view, and it has been criticized as well as emulated. But the author himself makes no total claim on his sources, many of which he professes to admire. This is a book about culture, not history: it brings to light a certain undercurrent in a body of work and literature, it does not aim to explain colonialism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Orientalism 12 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Said has some very important points, men he could definately have shortened the amount of pages. The argument is strong, but is repeated over and over again, so it is sufficient to only read parts of the book. The historical insights are very interesting and gives the reader a good background for understanding some of the complex sociogeographic ascpects.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seminal, engaging, fluid 10 Mar 2013
The Orient. Exotic, mysterious, ancient, savage. These descriptions of the orient are extant in our popular culture. According to Edward Said, they do not necessarily describe the orient as it really is. Instead, these descriptions are the products of a socially-constructed Western project, Orientalism, that described, catalogued, studied and representated the orient in the Western mind. Perhaps, most intriguingly, Orientalism served the colonial and power interests of the Western powers. Yet, the protagonists in the project, mostly Western academics, have been unreflective about the role that they play in the West's subjugation and domination of the Orient.

But what is the Orient? How can heterogenous, dynamic societies such as India, China and the societies of the Middle East be reduced to essentialist categories? Said's book focuses on the near and Middle East and how this region of the world - with its diverse people and religion - have been represented since the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt. And the picture is not pretty. On page after page, Said demonstrates - with sublime rhetorical flourish - how academic study of the Near East was wedded to the political and social structures of nineteenth century Europe.

Said clearly respects the deep scholarship of Lane, Burton and Gustav Flaubert. Yet, he shows that these men - and they are mostly men - created an Orient to serve the colonial ambitions of their societies. Fast forward one hundred years. The Near East is still being studied and packaged for consumption by this same baronly class. Only this time, the words Islam, Arab, terror, and fatalism are used synomymously.

Said deeply critiques the orientalist project. He calls for self-reflection in the academy about the role that it plays in the service of power.
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75 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An utterly outstanding book that demands reading 14 Jan 2005
By A Customer
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Brilliant book and an equally excellent seller
Published 28 days ago by Tashfeen Matiullah
5.0 out of 5 stars love it
i like this book it was so nice and make understood how western tranform this region into a bloody mess. thanks to Edward Said
Published 7 months ago by MAMANE SANI IBRAHIMA
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent food for thougts
Expected nothing less from Edward Said. Well written, well considered and well presented. It is excellent reading, but demands serious readers.
Published 8 months ago by L. Razzaq
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Needed this for a dissertation. Arrived on time, excellent quality. Different picture on the cover to the one advertised, but not a problem. Very happy!
Published 8 months ago by Harriet
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the founding texts of postcolonialist theory
First published in 1978, Said's text is a sustained and sometimes controversial expression of the way in which the `Orient' has been put to work as a cultural term not so much... Read more
Published on 5 Feb 2012 by Roman Clodia
4.0 out of 5 stars Without doubt an important read but.... several reviewers point out there are gaps, one being feminism one which Reine Lewis attempts to address, as does Spivak and others!!!!! Read more
Published on 16 Nov 2011 by Bobby Moon
5.0 out of 5 stars Orientalism
This is an absolute must in any colonial and postcolonial literature student's library, as well as anyone who's remotely interested in cultural, psychological and literary studies. Read more
Published on 9 Sep 2011 by Crushed~Pink~Silk
1.0 out of 5 stars Ordered Book Not Received
The ordered book "Orientalism" by Edward W Said was shipped on March 07 (from World of Books LTD) but has not yet arrived. Today' s date is May 7. I live in Israel. Read more
Published on 7 May 2011 by Reuven Berman Kadim
4.0 out of 5 stars "bridging the chasm"
Edward Said provides a concise justification for writing this large and complex book - and equally suggests a convincing reason for reading it - in his Afterword: "Orientalism is a... Read more
Published on 30 Jan 2011 by snailman 21
1.0 out of 5 stars Patient zero for the collapse of rigour in Middle East Studies
Firstly, one needs to say this about Said - he a great wordsmith. He has a fantastic command of the english language and whatever you may think of him - and i am clearly not a fan... Read more
Published on 1 Jun 2010 by Danny of Arabia
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