Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 70% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now
Customer Review

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instant classic, 18 Aug. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Orientalism (Paperback)
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. (Indeed, this is probably why 'Orientalism' is less problematic than 'Culture and Empire': Sad's work as history faces issues of chronology - Orientalism in art, for example, was in terminal decline when Britain and France began to grab the Middle East in earnest - and it is weaker at connecting representation to agency.) Finally, nor is 'Orientalism' about the evils of colonisation as such, or even the truthfulness of Orientalist writing. It is a decoding of a 200+ year-long academic and artistic tradition, no more or less. Sad's interest is in studying Orientalism as cultural phenomenon, not an Orient which he argues is, as a category, mythical anyway. But it is best to quote the author: 'One scarcely knows what to make of these caricatural permutations of a book that to its author and in its arguments is explicitly anti-essentialist, radically sceptical about all categorical designations such as Orient and Occident, and painstakingly careful about not "defending" or even discussing the Orient and Islam.' This book is a must for anyone interested in the meaning of cultural difference, and it is an exhilarating, sometimes electrifying read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]


Review Details