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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JARGON FREE HUMANISM
I don't understand the rather vicious comments below. I think that when Said claims that he's an exile, he doesn't simply means it in the political sense but a state of mind or a state of being. It means to be skeptical, cultured, and intellectually rigorous. I think some of the essays shows what it means to be a humanist in the best sense of the word. I too see...
Published on April 10, 2001 by Futoshi J. Tomori

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6 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If you like Said, you'll love it, if not what do you expect?
I find that I disagree with Said just slightly more than I agree with him. The book, a collection of Essays/magazine articles has some valuable insights, but as anyone who has read Said knows, he takes more than a few pages to say what could be condensed to a paragraph or two sentences.
Of course, my other criticism is that so much of his work is laden with his...
Published on November 20, 2001 by Rex Dillon


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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JARGON FREE HUMANISM, April 10, 2001
I don't understand the rather vicious comments below. I think that when Said claims that he's an exile, he doesn't simply means it in the political sense but a state of mind or a state of being. It means to be skeptical, cultured, and intellectually rigorous. I think some of the essays shows what it means to be a humanist in the best sense of the word. I too see myself as an exile despite a totally different set of experiences and circumstances. With this book, Said offers us a complex personality as well as an thoughtful and sensitive way of looking at the world and living in it. It might just be a manifesto of sorts for exiles just like myself.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exile, emigre, expat !, February 19, 2001
By A Customer
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The UN estimates that one third of mankind today does not live in the cities where they were born. No one can give voice to these feelings of dislocation more than Edward Said, one of the most perceptive living cultural historians whose range of erudition is astonishing. In these essays published over the past thirty years, he discusses a remarkably diverse set of questions dealing with the literature of estrangement (Conrad), the confrontation between colonized and colonial and of course, many literary and cultural questions relating to the arab middle east. But, as the title essay shows, a theme runs through the whole book, how does one deal with living elsewhere when you cannot go back home because home does not exist anymore or even perhaps because it never existed. The psychological burden of such an estrangement is born with great fortitude, even welcomed as a necessary component of living in the world today. It generates resistance to the powers that be at the same time that it engenders engagement with the world. The essays are stimulating because Said gives voice to the discontent we all feel when confronted with the culture of conformism around us, whether it is the manufactured consensus produced by politics and media, or the corruption of our political language or the emphasis on entertainment in every aspect of life. He ends by discussing Huntington's Clash of Civilizations; Said shows emphatically that the nature of civilization is changeable and permeable instead of monolithic, as Huntington would have us believe. Said believes that his view, based as it is on deep scholarship is the only hope we have for peaceful and just future. Huntington's view is combative and is based on an "Us versus Them" approach, when in fact the more carefully you look the more of Us you see in Them and vice versa. Of all the essays this should be required reading for decision makers.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The words of a truly original mind, February 17, 2001
By A Customer
This was my introduction to Edward Said and I found his writing a wonderful discovery even if I'm later to the game then most on this author. Perhaps academics have read Maurice Merleau-Ponty but he was new to me so when the first chapter started out I was a little put off. So I decided to scan the "Contents" and spied "Conrad and Nietzsche". Now I'd read comparisons before but never with as much originality as this essay by Mr. Said. I was hooked, and started picking and choosing my way through the familiar; T.E.Lawrence, Georgr Orwell, V.S. Naipaul, Hemingway. Some of the titles make you smile: "Through Gringo Eyes: With Conrad in Latin America", "How Not to Get Gored, On Ernest Hemingway." Familiar names but the author stands in a truly unique place as he takes on the topics. The insights make you stop to think. These essays should be read one by one and each savored before going on to the next. A great author doesn't merely repeat what you already know,causing you just to nod in agreement. Maybe you'll even modify some of your beliefs. At any rate you'll stop and think. Then start taking on some of the unfamiliar topics. For me this meant Tahia Carioca, Ahdaf Soueif, Eric Hobsbawn. And what a great way to end with "On Lost Causes", "Between Worlds", and "The Clash of Definitions." Then turn around and start reading the essays again and see how much you missed the first time and how much more your thinking is challenged all over again.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Criticism at its Best, February 4, 2002
By 
Abdel R Takriti (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This collection of essays is a new triumph for Said whose exceptional energy and courage should be an example for all of us. Ever since he was diagnosed with cancer, he has been engaged in a Proustian race against time producing such compelling works as "Culture and Imperialism", "Out of Place", and "The End of the Peace Process".
"Reflections on Exile" includes some of the finest essays written in the second half of the twentieth century. No critic could afford to ignore such important pieces as "Opponents, audiences, constituencies, and community" and "Traveling theory reconsidered". Not for Said is jargon or ill considered perspective; his thought is always sober and penetrating.
His greaest contribution was that he forced the academy to consider the narrative of the marginalised, the "voiceless", paving the way for an understanding of the world as inhabited by equal humans-- not superior "westerners" and inferior "easterners". But his contribution is not limited to deconstructing the Manicheanism of the post-colonial world; Said is the most insightful critic of his generation. He has an unmatched ability to capture the most delicate nuances in both the aesthetic and political realms. Whether he is comparing Nietzsche and Conrad or reflecting upon the Question of Palestine, Said proves his indispensibility by avoiding the pits of hazy thought that others regularly fall into.
Professor Said is simply the finest essayist alive; even on a purely literary basis, the merit of his writting is undeniable. He is passionate, coherent, and eloquent.
This collection of essays should be of interest to anybody concerned with literary theory, music, cultural criticism, politics and theory of nationalism. It provides a good overview of Said's breathtaking range of thought, and also includes first rate criticism on many thinkers,novelists, and musicians including: Conrad, Vico, Adorno, Lukacs, Orwell, Naipaul, Merleau-Ponty, Nietzsche, Gould, Hemingway, Mahfouz, Hobsbawm, Blackmur, Gramsci and Foucault.
Said is an engaged intellectual hero. Like Sartre, Russell, and Chomsky, his presence has been essential as a thinker who chooses to be in exile, who avoids the centres of dominance and keeps a distance (but is never detached) from society in order to be able to speak truth to power. His work provides a base for us to work on building human narratives free of hegemony. After Said, we cannot afford but to have a "contrapuntal" reading of the world, celebrating the values of enlightenment, hybridity, and freedom.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wildly diverse collection, but still brilliant, September 27, 2001
The lies about Edward Said are more frequently encountered than his actual words, at least as far as most of the media are concerned, which is another reason to actually read his books, as opposed to reading people's opinions about them. He is supposed to be a Marxist (because he occasionally writes about Marx as somebody whose thinking has had a concrete effect upon the world, which, let's face it, it has had); he is supposed to be an apologist for terrorism (never mind that, as Forrest Gump would say, terrorism is as terrorism does - that, for example, the Contras were, from the Sandinistan point of view, terrorists, but because they were trained and funded by the CIA they are instead "freedom fighters"). He is supposed, by some reviewers, to believe that "all texts are meaningless" and that what writers intend has nothing to do with anything. A quick glance at his actual works will dispel all these illusions, unless you are so emotionally committed to a certain point of view that your rational brain is on permanent holiday in the Adirondacks, or wherever.
On top of all this, the fact that he's a tenured professor in Columbia is supposed to mitigate against his qualifications for explaining and interpreting the complexities of Arabic culture to the rest of us. Oh, he's a martini-sipping Bach-lover, what does he know about oppression. Nobody supposes that the fact that, say, Harold Bloom, is also a tenured professor, should detract from Bloom's qualities as an expert on European and American culture.
His most famous work has probably been his meticulous unpicking of the attitudes of European and American colonists towards "the Orient" - a phrase that can only appear within inverted commas after reading his brilliant "Orientalism". But this collection, representing 30 years of reviews and speeches, reveals the (to me) startling range of Said's interests. There are meticulous and beautifully forensic essays on TE Lawrence and Samuel Huntington (the latter particularly timely, as Huntington has been widely cited in the aftermath of September 11th, and Said shows us just how partisan and polemical Huntington's supposedly objective analysis is.) There's also a tender tribute to Johnny Weissmuller's portrayal of "Tarzan", and a spirited eulogy to a celebrated belly-dancer, as well as a wonderful introduction to "Moby-Dick" that, to me, represents the best Melville criticism I've ever seen.
Said is one of the few intellectuals in America who has never ceased to be aware of the potentially disastrous separation of culture from politics. His career has been both a crusade against misinformation and lies, and a noble tribute to the power of culture to help us think again about reality. This book is an excellent introduction to his work.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A satisfying intellectual journey, March 27, 2002
By A Customer
This book takes you onto a spectacular and highly satisfying intellectual journey. Many essayists set up their tent with the first couple of paragraphs and then spend the rest of the time just rearranging the furniture inside. With Said, one never knows what point he might make next, what brilliant new connection will be created before our eyes. You can tell by reading this collection how Said won his reputation as a fantastic lecturer and educator. I guess this is why Columbia University stuck by him when he was being vilified by his enemies for championing the Palestinian cause and demanding the end of Israeli occupation. Buy it, read it, enjoy!
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What the New York Times said, March 7, 2001
By A Customer
Martha Nussbaum, writing in the New York Times of February 18, wrote: "the collection, much more than the sum of its parts, is the portrait of an exemplary intellectual life, in which rigor and clarity join with courage and commitment, and both with a rare kind of unswerving joy at the complex face of reality...this is surely a major work, among the most provocative and cogent accounts of culture and the humanities that America has produced in years."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That Rare thing, the American Intellectual, July 18, 2007
This review is from: Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (Convergences: Inventories of the Present) (Paperback)
It is easy to get off on the wrong foot with Said if you are distracted by ideology and feel yourself threatened. What one has to do is look beyond the politics for long enough to see Said for what he is, namely, an intellectual who has devoted his life to learning. This is terribly rare these days. Sontag held the spot light for years as America's premier intellectual. Gore Vidal still has a role to play, Edmund Wilson and Lionel Trilling both deserve mention, as do others, but in the end we are talking about a handful of people who can seriously be compared to the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre. American academics may be intellectual but they are rarely if ever intellectuals. I am not certain why, but Said, an expert on music among other things, succeeded in creating this role for himself. These essays provide a great introduction into the breadth of his thought. Like all intellectuals, he has his moments of stupidity and can be blindingly prejudiced, but then again so could Edmund Wilson and Sartre himself. What becomes apparent with intellectuals is that all of life gets submitted to intellectual scrutiny. There is none of this, "That's not my field" stuff. Everything, including Philly steak sandwiches, gets analyzed. The erudition is impressive, but then finally it is love that stands out, not learning. Said is a lover of life, and that, ladies and gentlemen, can't be taught.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, July 15, 2014
By 
Esther M. Alarcon (Philadelphia, PA, US) - See all my reviews
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Very important book for my research
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5.0 out of 5 stars Erudite and eclectic..., October 26, 2009
This review is from: Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (Convergences: Inventories of the Present) (Paperback)
Edward Said was a Christian Palestinian who was born in Jerusalem, educated in Cairo, and became a Professor of English at Columbia University, as well as the most articulate spokesperson for the Palestinian cause. I've read his most famous work, "Orientalism," as well as an easier, philosophical companion, "Covering Islam." "Orientalism," the word, has now becomes incorporated in the English language, and one of the definitions Webster's now recognizes, largely due to this work, is: "a viewpoint, as held by someone in the West, in which Asia or specifically, the Arabic Middle East is seen variously as exotic, mysterious, irrational, etc.: term used to impute a patronizing attitude." Professor Said died in 2003, and this book is a form of "summing up" of his life, and his viewpoints, and covers a wildly eclectic range of subjects and interests. Consider that an essay on the greatest and most famous singer in the Arab world in the 20th Century, Umm Kalthoum, is followed by an essay entitled "Introduction to Moby-Dick."

There are 46 essays in total, and their diversity ensures that some will induce serious eye-glazing in the reader, and for me those usual involved the ones on literary criticism. For example, there is an essay comparing Conrad and Nietzsche that only true literary specialists could appreciate, maybe all 10 of them. (Said was an expert on Conrad.) Likewise the essay entitled "Sense and Sensibility" which starts with the literary criticism of E.D. Hirsch. On the other hand, numerous essays resonated. A "Standing Civil War" is on the English fabulist T. E. Lawrence, a prime conduit for Orientalist thought, and of whom Said says: "...Lawrence becomes narrator and actor slowly being destroyed by a sense of consuming deceit." Said has a solid essay on George Orwell, and given Said's outlook as expressed in "Orientalism," he savages V. S. Naipaul. Consider: "To say that Naipaul resembles a scavenger, then, is to say that he now prefers to render the ruins and derelictions of postcolonial history without tenderness... he prefers to indict the guerrillas for their pretensions rather than indict the imperialism that drove them to insurrection..." Or, "Naipaul wouldn't make a trip to Israel, for example, which is not to say that he wouldn't find rabbinical laws governing daily behavior any less repressive than Khomeini's. No, his audience knows Israel is OK, "Islam" not." There is also a solid essay on the "Grey Eminence," Walter Lippmann. One of the most moving essays is the one which gives its title to this collection, and are the thoughts of the author about his life as an exile from his place of birth, to "have been exiled by exiles" as he puts it.

For me the most fascinating essay is "The Quest for Gillo Pontecorvo," and it is an interview with the famous Italian director whose film, "The Battle of Algiers" was proclaimed by Said as one of the two greatest political movies ever made. And simply learning how the movie was made, in Algiers, so soon after the bitter war of liberation, was illuminating, and worth the price of the book alone. Since Said is a Palestinian it was only natural that he press Pontecorvo on directing another movie, this time on the Palestinian issue. Pontecorvo declined, stating reasons that were not very convincing.
The last essay in the collection is entitled "The Clash of Definitions," which is a serious and worthwhile critique of Huntington's "A Clash of Civilizations." Said makes the now familiar point concerning the transformation of American Indians from "savages" to "victims" in less than a generation, but reinforces it with references to Hertog's "The Mirror of Herodotus," which painstakingly shows how Herodotus constructed an image of a barbarian "Other," in his case, of the Scythians. One of Said's central conclusions is that: "...a great deal of what used to be thought of as settled fact, or tradition, is revealed to be a fabrication for mass consumption in the here and now."

Overall, a very worthwhile collection of essays, and an enduring 5-star legacy to his memory.
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Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (Convergences: Inventories of the Present)
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