- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Penguin UK (February 27, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140289232
- ISBN-13: 978-0140289237
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,164,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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For Lust Of Knowing: The Orientalists And Their Enemies
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About the Author
Robert Irwin is a publisher and writer of fiction and non-fiction. His works of non-fiction include The Arabian Nights, Islamic Art, Night & Horses & the Desert and The Alhambra.
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So far, I found just a couple of rather strange ... aberrations? (I guess it is appropriate to use that word for a book populated by so many eccentrics). Mr. Irwin writes (pp. 19-20), "For reasons that remain mysterious, the new conquerors [i.e., Arabs] were referred to in the earliest Latin sources either as 'Hagarenes' or as 'Saracens'." I've always thought there's nothing mysterious about that: it's an old tradition of calling an ethnos by a name or place known to classical authors, or by a legendary ancestor. Hagar was mother of Ishmael, the ancestor of the Arabs, hence Hagarians. Saraceni were nomads mentioned by the late Greek authors, so here you go ...
Another example (p. 181): "It always rankled with [Edward] Palmer that he did not succeed to [William] Wright's professorship when the latter died." Something isn't right here. Palmer was murdered in 1882, Wright was succeeded by their mutual friend William Robertson Smith after Wright's death in 1889. With all Orientalists' eccentricity, it seems rather unusual for Palmer to be irritated by a fact that his friend and colleague outlived him.
Despite these minor editorial omissions, I wish could give more than five stars to this book.
As for the sad case of Said's "Orientalism," Mr. Irwin yet again "tore that book to pieces," which, naturally, will have no effect on Said's admirers. As any critique never had and never will on supporters of the "Black Athena," or on believers in the less known here in the West so called "New Chronology."
That's why "For Lust of Knowing" reminds me of "The Sumerian Problem." "For Lust of Knowing" is a vehicle for Irwin to attack Edward Said and his book "Orientalism." Irwin sets up his prosecution very carefully with a thorough study of the West's attempts to investigate the East with a focus on Arabs and Islam. On the way, he never lets his readers completely forget that he is heading toward Said. Finally, he attacks.
For those who are not orientalists themselves, this book might not be very interesting. But having lived in the Middle East much of my life, I found this book a good read. I kept telling myself I would put the book down when I became tired of it, but Irwin manages to put something very interesting or terribly amusing in every chapter, if not on every page. So I read the whole book and quite enjoyed it.
He points out Said's typical use of over generalization and lack of attention to accuracy and is careful to say that it is not Said's stand on the Arab-Israelie conflict that he has fault with, just his somewhat distorted view of Western scholarship.