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Reading Orientalism: Said and the Unsaid (Publications on the Near East) Paperback – October 17, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0295987521 ISBN-10: 0295987529 Edition: Reprint
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Editorial Reviews


"Varisco's book is the first to undertake a comprehensive reappraisal of Orientalism in the light of all that has subsequently been written about it. Although recognizing that Said's book was in its time stimulating and pathbreaking, Varisco mounts a sustained and unrelenting assault on what he insists was Said's flawed methodology, his skewed handling of literary evidence, his lack of adequate historical knowledge, and his distorted and tendentious conclusions. This book will enrage Said's many admirers and win the applause of his many detractors. Either way, it is an important and impressively documented work, which deserves a wide audience."―Common Knowledge

"Varisco's book stakes out a most comprehensive claim: to present systematically and in detail the methodological as well as the general empirical shortcomings of the work [Said's Orientalism], while considering the entire body of prior (English language) criticism, for Said and against. Any defense of Orientalism will have to take into account this scrupulous and precise summation of Said criticism."―Kritik

"Daniel Martin Varisco's Reading Orientalism: Said and the Unsaid [is] an extensive study that should put to rest, once and for all, the ghost of the formidable Arab-American, culturally Muslim Christian, yet resolutely secular, critic. Supported by 115 pages of exhaustive notes, a 65-page bibliography, and a selective index of essential names not exceeding 12 pages, Reading Orientalism is both a tribute to the spirit that animated Said's Orientalism and a thorough critique of the book's 'manifest flaws.' ."―American Literary History

"Varisco's impressive piece of scholarship brings together much of the prior criticisms made of Said's notion of Orientalism and his approach along with the author's own insightful observations . . . . [A] first-rate assessment by Varisco of his subject."―The Review of Politics

"Varisco's book makes for exhilarating reading."―Times Literary Supplement


"There is a lot of commentary available on Edward Said and Orientalism, but nothing like this. Varisco has compiled a comprehensive, critical overview of nearly everything that has been said on the topic. The notes and bibliography alone are a significant contribution to scholarship on Said and his work, but Varisco also uses his vast wealth of sources as the basis for a devastating critique of Said's methodology and conclusions―-a critique that fairly acknowledges the beneficial consequences of Orientalism and the issues it raises."―Walter G. Andrews, University of Washington

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Product Details

  • Series: Publications on the Near East
  • Paperback: 518 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press; Reprint edition (October 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295987529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295987521
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,356,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth A. Root on March 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is probably the best book to read after reading Edward Said's Orientalism. Perhaps they should be sold as a set. Orientalism generated an enormous body of critical literature; Varnisco has read more than 600 pieces and presents them here in a carefully documented, highly readable survey. He seems to have striven to be even-handed and fair; for example he both praises and criticizes Bernard Lewis. Since he has a detailed bibliography and notes, it serves equally well as a one-volume overview and as an entrée to all the literature.

Varnisco's notes pose the one difficulty in the book: they are very definitely worth reading as one goes, but with so many, it is hard to choose: continue reading the text or flip back and forth?

Varnisco's writing is marvelous. The introductory material is a little stiff and heavy on the academese, but after that it flows. He pulls together many direct quotations from his enormous variety of sources with grace and produces a highly readable text. In addition, he is very witty, and makes loving use of his language. He often includes well-chosen puns that enrich his text by producing alternative readings, both of which are correct. Examples include the subtitle, The Said and the Unsaid and on page 272: "The volume in question in which the offending article by Lewis appears is poor evidence for Said's dis[cuss]ing of Orientalism-as-usual", or the chapter heading "Defin[ess]ing Orientalism". It is a pleasure to read an author who plays so skillfully with language.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Southall on August 21, 2013
Format: Paperback
The book seems fair and erudite, I have no complaints even if and when I may agree with the author's possession it is a valuable book to own in the debates concerning Orientalism.

It is a recommended purchase.
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2 of 16 people found the following review helpful By ROROTOKO on August 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
"Reading Orientalism" is on the ROROTOKO list of cutting-edge intellectual nonfiction. Professor Varisco's book interview ran here as cover feature on April 4, 2009.
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