A chronological annotated sampling of key works from one of the most articulate, insightful, and controversial minds of our time.
Said (The End of the Peace Process, p. 365, etc.) is best known for his writings on Palestine. This collection, compiled by Bayoumi and Rubin (two of his students), includes selected excerpts from both his well-known and his more obscure texts. For scholars it is a reminder of the breadth and diversity of Said’s works, while for the uninitiated it will stand as a timely introduction to the thorny questions underlying politics and conflict in the modern Middle East. Of critical importance to students of history, literature, anthropology, and politics (to name but a few), Said’s passionate and studied investigation of subjects ranging from Joseph Conrad, Yeats, and Jane Austen to Zionism, the Middle East peace process, and decolonization are united in theme by their common consideration of the nature of life in exile. The author’s constant return to his own experience as a Palestinian exile speaks to one of his greatest contributions to the field of cultural studies: the idea that all knowledge is produced by real people informed by their surroundings. It is to this end that the format of the collection is particularly effective, for it provides a sense of the author’s personal and political context through the ordered assemblage of works chronicling his development as a writer, and aided in no small part by Bayoumi and Rubin’s commentary on the climate in which each piece was written and the manner in which each was received.
Even for those who have studied Said for years, this will provide a welcome reminder of his unique talent for distillation and clarity—and of his courage in the quest for truth, empathy, and justice.