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Friday, November 19, 2010

Orientalism by Edward W. Said~★★★★1/2

Author: Edward W. Said
Title: Orientalism
Release Date: October 12th, 1979; 25th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: Vintage Books
Genre: Non-fiction

Book Cover:"Twenty-five years after its first publication, Edward Said's groundbreaking critique of the West's historical, cultural, and political perceptions of the East has become a modern classic. In this wide-ranging, intellectually vigorous study, Said traces the origins of 'orientalism' to the centuries-long period during which European dominated the Middle and Near East and, from its position of power, defined 'the orient' simply as 'other than' the occident. This entrenched view continues to dominate western ideas and, because it does not allow the East to represent itself, prevents true understanding. Essential, and still eye-opening, Orientalism remains one of the most important books written about our divided world."

Taryn's Review: I am very glad to have been assigned this book because I felt like Said opened my eyes to how Western-oriented thoughts can dominate the world. In fact,  these thoughts have actually created a world that has become real in Western eyes precisely because it was created by the West.

There is no East. There is no West. We culturally constructed these ideas. Said takes a very, very in-depth look at how this creation silenced the actual "East" and its voices after the West spoke for them. One surprising thing to me was (and this may sound dumb to some, but it is what it is) that I hadn't realized the Middle East was considered part of the Orient. Said addressed this by saying most people in the United States were more familiar with the Orient being China, Japan, etc., but that in Europe, it was more widely known that the Orient included the Middle East.

There was so much information that Said packed into this book. Philology, Britain and France's roles in shaping the East, his views on Orientalism, and the Orient are just a few topics. Take your time with this one; do not expect to sit down and finish this in an afternoon. It might even be criminal to do that. Really let your mind think about what Said's saying. Ultimately, you might not agree with Said, but it's a book that will influence your thoughts in a new way.

1 comment:

  1. Said's advanced theory is misunderstood and sadly enough some Asian countries fail to see they can be guilty of the same approach when examining their own identity and looking at the West: http://liangansandi.blogspot.com/2011/03/edward-saids-legacy-rise-of-asianism.html

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