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Out Of Place: A Memoir
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2001
Said is the voice of the displaced Arab. Most Arabs based in the West are there because they know that there is a better life for them, but this sits uncomfortably with the contradiction that the world order that provides these opportunities is the same one in which the Arab continues to be a second class citizen. The Arab's sense of sadness and sense of continual injustice has never truly been given the level of media exposure it merits.
This book touches on themes of displacement, dissolusionment, crises of identity, and ultimately unexpected sources of freedom and resolvings with an honesty associated more with the poet than the academic. Qualities of honesty and emotion that surface in Said's academic texts can be embraced more fully in the less structured genre of autobiography, this one written under the shadow of a terminal illness. Rather than analysing his career we are treated to an insight into his formative years.
There are perhaps two main themes: the first is education under an anachronistic British system and an alienating American one. In a British school in Cairo, resistance to the power took the form of talking Arabic: a people resisting merely by using their mother-tongue.
The second is the enduring influence of his parents upon him. His overbearing father's almost total control over his time, direction and sexuality in his early life. The mixed blessing of his mother's love, having an almost spiritual quality in the way it nourishes him and yet leaving him with crippling guilt as he attempts to develop adult relationships with women.
To relate to this book is to acknowledge one's pain, and to become more aware of the life long project of coming to terms with one's self. Though I write from the perspective of a half-english, half-arab adult of English culture, I feel that this has something to say to every citizen of the world that is willing to grapple with questions of his identity.
A must read, beyond the intellectual world.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 1999
Fantastic memoir!If you ve ever read any of Said's other work and appreciated his adept handling of many difficult issues,then 'Out of Place' sheds light on the personal background and beginnings. A ransacking journey through his early life and the incidents and contradictions of colonial-era Cairo and all the other settings of his life; a catalogue of the experiences that would ultimately produce such immense contributions to the largely white-dominated intellectual landscape through important works such as 'Culture and Imperialism' and 'Orientalism'. Definately one to read if even if you are a not a card carrying sympathizer of the Palestinian cause and/or a fan of his thoughts on Orientalism , which may even make for a bigger reason to do so.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2009
Edward Said is one of the most influential and important academics of the 20th century and his work continues to be used by students all over the world. His background as a Palestinian growing up in Egypt strongly influenced his work and in this memoir he explores some of the reasons why.

I would recommend this product to any person who is interested in the Middle East and the conflict there, but also any history student, especially those who are looking at relations between the 'East' and the 'West'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 7 September 2008
A great read,Edward Said has exposed warts and all for the reader creating a truly honest and frank story of his very interesting life. This book helps to paint a background for this very important modern philosopher way of thinking and writings. The way he weaves his narrative between the events in his personal life and the political events of the time is to me the most interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 December 2009
Mr Said gives us a revealing picture of his early life - and in doing so gives us an insight into the Arab experience lived through European and US colonialism. His name, of course, is a strong example of an early 20th century disjointed group of people who don't really know if their reference group is an Arab or a European one. At the same time, he manages to disclose the mental, social and emotional uncertainties universally experienced by children and adolescents of all cultures. He lays bare the Fruedian reality behind family relationships of all cultures. He evokes the middle east, its daily life and transformations at that time and gives a vivid picture of a borgeois lifestyle of the businessman's family. The turmoil of an Israel supplanted in the heart of Muslim aspirations are subtly depicted. A good read. A little judicious editing might make the whole thing flow faster but I am not sure I would want anything faster than his somewhat meandering narrative.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 1999
Edward Said's book describes in great detail the "in between" stages of life, i.e. as in the supposedly less interesting moments, totally overrunning what would classically be emphasised upon, i.e. the "highlights". So we get endless passages describing his new watch, where as a marriage and subsequent divorce get only a fleeting remark. For an excruciatingly detailed account of a childhood, this book although surprisingly very easy to read, is painful to experience because of the author's incredible capacity to convey how it felt like more than how it was like. Therefore we go with him through the difficult stages of adolescence with the backdrop of the death of a nation, i.e. Palestine and the birth of another, feeling a constant sense of anxiety perfectly conveyed to us by a witness, victim and survivor of 20th Century Arab History.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2014
beautifully written
can highly recommend
such a great man and such a brave life.
i really loved this book and can recommend it
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on 27 December 2014
good book, in very good condition, reasonable delivery time. Thanks.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2000
Edward Said can do no wrong, I couldn't put the book down. Both informative and touching a real gem!
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on 10 February 2015
The best book I have ever read.
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