Yet again, the mysticism of the East is at question. But this time, for a relief it is answered by a man of the East himself and not by a westerner. ‘Orientalism‘ by Edward Said, a Palestinian American literary critic, theologist and activist is foremost a scholarly book that attempts to rid the West (Occident) of their view of the East (Orient) as barbaric.
The first dispute arises over the question of what is the East. The East consists of a myriad of cultures and regions that are studied as a cohesive region unit for the Westerners’ benefit. Said focuses his attention on the interplay of the Orient and the Occident. Said says that the West has misunderstood the East, leading to a gap between the real and the believed. This has created a false and racial image for the same, also believing them to be unaware of their own culture. To keep up this
image, the West have managed to create a false history for them. Hence, Orientalism was written to show the Euro-American control over the East and to demystify the false notions associated to the latter. The book examines three areas – scope of Orientalism, Oriental structures and Orientalism now. Hence, here the reference to Orients is simply
the Western construct of the same. Said denounces the Arabs who have internalized this notion of the Orient as the westerners main purpose for the false imagery of the east was to justify their colonial rule. Said tries to establish an Orient of culture, values, rich heritage and traditions.
Said’s work asserts credibility as he is man of both worlds, Occident and Orient. The book may tend to become quite long drawn and intellectual as it focuses mainly on the academic part of the subject. His work offers insights about colonialism from the perspective of one who has been colonized. It forms the basis of many Indian intellectuals’ challenges to cultural colonialism. He provides a comparative and historical literary review of European, mainly British and French scholars and writers. The relation of power between the colonizer and the colonized is examined in the texts.
This book is purely academic but maybe boring for a casual reader. But it certainly offers great insight in the greatly mysterious East and demystifies the same. For this same reason, the book is great read as it helps us understand and get an idea of the true Orient.
Overall Rating: 8/10
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