Spanning over three decades, these collated essays by the literary
critic Edward Said - longtime Professor of English at Columbia
University - offer valuable commentary on a broad expanse of
subjects encompassing both academic and discursive topics, linked
by the thread of one man's intellectual evolution. Based in New
York, Said attributes much of his development as a critic to the
particular character of the city he inhabits; a place
simultaneously 'restless, turbulent, unceasingly energetic and
absorptive'. As the gateway to a new life for thousands of
immigrants at Ellis Island, New York seems the ideal home for one
in exile. In the book's intriguing title essay Said meditates with
authority on what it is exactly to be displaced from one's homeland
and looks at how the effects of this experience, something at once
'strangely compelling' yet 'terrible to experience', permeate
literature. Bemused by the way such an event has often been
transformed on the page 'into a potent, even enriching motif of
modern culture', he muses on the contrary nature of exile itself in
a thought-provoking, stimulating article that in its poise and
elegance defines the whole volume. Unabashedly scholarly and
erudite, some essays hold specifically academic interest while
others - on figures like the controversial T E Lawrence, Hemingway
or George Orwell - possess broader, more colourful appeal; there's
even the unexpected pleasure of a piece on Johnny Weissmuller's
Tarzan films nestling comfortably alongside its more studious
companions. With reflective reappraisals of major writers and
artists, incisive debate about issues that directly relate to the
humanities as a whole and a courage in tackling subjects that many
might prefer to shirk, the fruits of a long and distinguished
career are here in ample evidence. (Kirkus UK)
This collection brings together Edward Said's essays on literary
and cultural topics from over three decades. As the title essay
shows, Said's own exile and the fate of the Palestinians have given
form to the questions he has pursued. These essays give an insight
into the formation of the critic and the development of an
intellectual vocation. They cover a diverse range of topics, from
the heroics of Tarzan to the machismo of Ernest Hemingway. Said
offers different angles on writers and artists such as George
Orwell, Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad, and Raymond Williams. Many
of the central debates in the humanities over the last 30 years are
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