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  • Date :
  • 9/29/2004

Edward Sa’id

(November 1, 1935 – September 24, 2003)

Edward Wadie Said was a well-known literary theorist and critic. He was also an outspoken Palestinian activist.

Said was born in Jerusalem into the Anglican faith, but spent his childhood in Cairo, Egypt except for several long stays in Palestine. After preparing at Victoria College in Cairo, Said received his B.A. from Princeton University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. He was professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University for many years. He also taught at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and Yale universities. He spoke English and French fluently. He spoke excellent colloquial Arabic and very good standard Arabic.

Said is best known for describing and rejecting what he saw as a constellation of false assumptions underlying Western attitudes toward the East, which he termed Orientalism.

In his book Orientalism (1978), Said decried the "subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture". He argued that a long tradition of false and romanticized images of Asia and the Middle East in Western culture had served as an implicit justification for Europe's and America's colonial and imperial ambitions.

As a Palestinian activist, Said defended the rights of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories. For many years, Said was a member of the Palestinian National Council, but he broke with Yasser Arafat because he believed that the Oslo Accords signed in 1993 sold short the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in pre-1967 Israel. He also opposed the Oslo formula of creating a Palestinian entity out of Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, arguing instead for the creation of one state, in which Arabs and Jews would have equal rights (often known as the binational solution).

His relationship with the Palestinian Authority was so bad that PA leaders once called for the banning of his books.

In July 2000, he created a minor controversy in a stone-throwing incident on the Lebanon–Israeli border.

Said's books on the Israeli occupation of Palestine include The Question of Palestine (1979) and The Politics of Dispossession (1994).

Said was also a prolific journalist and his writing regularly appeared in the Nation, the London Guardian, the London Review of Books, Le Monde diplomatique, Counterpunch, Al Ahram, and the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat.

Edward Said died at the age of 67 in New York after a long battle with leukemia.


After the Last Sky (1986)

Beginnings (1975)

Blaming the Victims (1988)

Covering Islam (1981)

Criticism in Society

Culture and Imperialism

Edward Said: A Critical Reader

Jewish Religion, Jewish History (Introduction)

Joseph Conrad and the Fiction of Autobiography (1966)

Literature and Society (1980)

Musical Elaborations (1991)

Nationalism, Colonialism, and Literature

Orientalism (1978)

Orientalisme (1980)

Out of Place (1999) (a memoir)

Parallels and Paradoxes (with Daniel Barenboim)

The Pen and the Sword (1994)

The Politics of Dispossession (1994)

The Question of Palestine (1979)

Reflections on Exile (2000)

Representations of the Intellectual (1994)

The World, the Text and the Critic (1983)

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