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Reading Orientalism

Said and the Unsaid

Daniel Martin Varisco

Publication Year: 2012

Drawing on the extensive discussion of the late Edward Said's work, this new study addresses the ambitious intellectual history of the debates that Orientalism has sparked in several disciplines, including its reception among Arab and European scholars.

Published by: University of Washington Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-x

“No man is an island, entire of itself,” remarked John Donne in a phrase that has been haunting introductory English literature texts ever since. Neither is a book. This book evolved out of a nagging iconoclastic impulse . . .

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To the Reader

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pp. xi-xvi

You have before you two books about one book.
The one book is Edward Said’s Orientalism, a copy of which should preferably be read before and after you tackle my critical engagement with this powerful text and the ongoing debate over it. More than . . .

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pp. 3-28

Goliath, for the critic Edward Said, was Orientalism, the first target of his successive critiques of Western discourse about the Orient, Islam, and Palestinians. By most accounts the . . .

1. Orienting "Orientalism"

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I. “One That Cannot Now Be Rewritten”

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pp. 31-39

Any European or American representation of Islam and the geographic space that claims it is often called a kind of “Orientalism.” Centuries of contact on all levels between Christian Europe . . .

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II. Defin[ess]ing Orientalism

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pp. 40-62

If the Orient was “almost a European invention,” it was at the same time a politicized representation that served the vested interests of imperial ambition and served up the colonized as the they who cannot . . .

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III. Verbalizing an Orient

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pp. 63-78

East is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet.” I remember this white-man-ly burdened ditty as coming from my grandmother at a time when my knowledge of east and west centered on . . .

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IV. The Growth (Benign, Cancerous, or Otherwise) of Orientalism

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pp. 79-92

Having like Adam named the verbal beasts around us, we can now trace the notion of Orientalism as a fixed vernacular term in European languages. A word is necessary about the ism-mania . . .

2. The Said and the Unsaid in Said's "Magnum Opus Orientale"

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I. Dissing Orientalism: All That Said Has Done

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pp. 95-140

The debate over Orientalism has not been allowed to die.1 The simple fact that the text now exists in some three dozen languages suggests that it needs to be continually reviewed as it is . . .

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II. Drawing the Fault Lines

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pp. 141-177

Can the subaltern speak? Said is so busy speaking for the Oriental in Orientalism that this question is essentially elided. Whether or not real Orientals can speak or even represent themselves, Said does not allow . . .

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III. Self-Critique More Than Mere Image

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pp. 178-200

Indeed, my real argument,” claims Said, “is that Orientalism . . . has less to do with the Orient than it does with ‘our’ world.”534 This intriguing suggestion, now so commonplace that it hardly requires . . .

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IV. A Novel Argument out of Blurred Genres

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pp. 201-233

Ithink that Said’s question is important enough that it needs a response, as the caustic rejoinder of Jeffrey Myers indicates. The novel is clearly the literary form Said knows best and loves dearest. That reading . . .

3. The Seductive Charms of and Against "Orientalism"

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I. Presenting and Representing Orientalism

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pp. 237-250

The intellectual maelstrom that has kept the debate about Orientalism swirling across disciplines is a persistent metaproblem of much postjust- about-everything discourse: how can or should reality be . . .

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II. The Essential[ism] Problem

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pp. 251-266

In the ever more postmodern intellectual milieu, the essential unpardonable sin—what Bedouin sheikhs would brand an unredeemable 'ayb aswad (black sin)—has been essentialism. The . . .

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III. What Is Said (but True?) About Said

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pp. 267-289

Orientalism, the text, reminds me of a staged boxing match, with some undeniably clean points, but with a foul share of low blows.163 Said’s fresh rhetoric, designed from the start to bloody the nose of . . .

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IV. Beyond the Binary

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pp. 290-305

In sum, the essential argument of Orientalism is that a pervasive and endemic Western discourse of Orientalism has constructed “the Orient,” a representation that Said insists not only is perversely false . . .


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pp. 307-422


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pp. 423-488


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pp. 489-501

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780295802626
E-ISBN-10: 0295802626
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295987521
Print-ISBN-10: 0295987529

Publication Year: 2012