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Said, Lukács, and Gramsci: Beginnings, Geography, and Insurrection

From: College Literature
Volume 40, Number 4, Fall 2013
pp. 74-104 | 10.1353/lit.2013.0038



This essay argues that Edward Said’s work was deeply shaped by Georg Lukács’s theory of reification and totality, as set out in History and Class Consciousness, and also molded by a reinflection of Lukács’s thinking through the work of Antonio Gramsci. The interweaving of the influences of Lukács and Gramsci was fundamental in enabling Said’s radicalized geographical criticism. The essay shows that though Said frequently disavowed “totalizing” thought, Lukácsian theory actually underpins the ways Said opens his major books, from Beginnings to Culture and Imperialism. The influence of Gramsci, appearing from the later 1970s onward, permits Said to spatialize the insights he had already incorporated from Lukács in a productive interplay.

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