Introduction to Orientalism TEXT.pdf - E 205 \u2022 EDWARD SAID \u2022 INTRODUCTION TO ORIENTALISM \u2022 1 OF 24 Orientalism(1977 Edward Said Introduction I On

Introduction to Orientalism TEXT.pdf - E 205 u2022 EDWARD...

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E 205 • EDWARD SAID • INTRODUCTION TO ORIENTALISM • 1 OF 24 Orientalism (1977) Edward Said Introduction I On a visit to Beirut during the terrible civil war of 1975-1976 a French journalist wrote regretfully of the gutted downtown area that “ it had once seemed to belong to ... the Orient of Chateaubriand and Nerval .” 1 He was right about the place, of course, especially so far as a European was concerned. The Orient was almost a European invention , and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences . Now it was disappearing; in a sense it had happened, its time was over. Perhaps it seemed irrelevant that Orientals themselves had something at stake in the process, that even in the time of Chateaubriand and Nerval Orientals had lived there, and that now it was they who were suffering ; the main thing for the European visitor was a European representation of the Orient and its contemporary fate , both of which had a privileged communal significance for the journalist and his French readers. Americans will not feel quite the same about the Orient , which for them is much more likely to be associated very differently with the Far East (China and Japan, mainly). Unlike the Americans, the French and the British – less so the Germans, Russians, Spanish, Portuguese, Italians, and Swiss – have had a long tradition of what I shall be calling Orientalism , a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is based on the Orient’s special place in European Western experience . The Orient is not only adjacent to Europe ; it is also the place of Europe’s greatest and richest and oldest colonies , the source of its civilizations and languages , its cultural contestant , and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the other . In addition, the Orient has helped to define Europe (or the West) as its contrasting image, idea, personality, experience . Yet none of this Orient is merely imaginative . The Orient is an integral part of European material civilization and culture . Orientalism expresses and represents that part culturally and even ideologically as a mode of discourse with supporting institutions, vocabulary, scholarship, imagery, doctrines, even colonial bureaucracies and colonial styles . In contrast, the American understanding of the Orient will seem considerably less dense, although our recent Japanese, Korean, and Indochinese adventures ought now to be creating a more sober, more realistic “Oriental” awareness . Moreover, the vastly expanded American political and economic role in the Near East (the Middle East) makes great claims on our understanding of that Orient. It will be clear to the reader (and will become clearer still throughout the many pages that follow) that by Orientalism I mean several things, all of them, in my opinion, interdependent . The most readily accepted designation for Orientalism is an academic one , and indeed the label still serves in a number of Both belonged to the French Romanticism: • François René Chateaubriand (1768
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