Kirkus Reviews QR Code
REPRESENTATIONS OF THE INTELLECTUAL by Edward W. Said

REPRESENTATIONS OF THE INTELLECTUAL

The 1993 Reith Lectures

By Edward W. Said

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1994
ISBN: 0679761276
Publisher: Pantheon

In six essays delivered as lectures for the BBC, Said (The Politics of Dispossession, p. 537, etc.) makes the case that intellectuals should maintain a vigilant skepticism toward all received wisdoms. Said conceives of the ideal intellectual as "exile and marginal, as amateur, and as the author of a language that tries to speak the truth to power." Some may find an exquisite irony in the spectacle of Said, a member of the Palestinian National Council, cautioning thinkers against allowing their ideas and reputations to be co-opted by patriotism, nationalism, and various forms of group-think. But Said sees the irony as well, and he struggles honestly in these essays to describe a role for the intellectual in which the moral authority of the prophetic outsider is not purchased by forfeiting all political and social engagement.