Catalogue

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Power, politics, and culture : interviews with Edward W. Said /
edited and with an introduction by Gauri Viswanathan.
edition
1st Vintage Books ed.
imprint
New York : Vintage Books, 2001.
description
xxi, 485 p. ; 21 cm.
ISBN
1400030668 (pbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
added author
imprint
New York : Vintage Books, 2001.
isbn
1400030668 (pbk.)
general note
"Originally published : New York: Pantheon Books, 2001"
Includes index.
catalogue key
5998951
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Preface This collection of interviews covers the years 1976 to 2000, as well as a wide variety of subjects. Except for the first one, which appeared in the Cornell University journal Diacritics and was a written exchange between the editors and myself, all of these pieces occurred, so to speak, in a face-to-face situation. Necessarily then, they reflect the immediacy of such encounters, the back-and-forth, the informal question-and-answer language, the circling around, making, and remaking of a point or argument, the challenge and counter-challenge of interviewer(s) and interviewee. They have been edited first of all by the journals, newspapers, and magazines that conducted the interviews in the first place and where they originally appeared, second by Professor Gauri Viswanathan and Shelley Wanger, third by me. As such then, they are a composite of direct discourse and later clarification. No effort at all has been made by anyone involved to make these interviews seem more "writerly." They are therefore principally the records of various occasions, in many different times and places, publications, interviewers (the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, India), and many different situations, moods, and concerns. Interviews play a role that essays and books do not. Most often in my case, they have arisen as responses to what I have written in my books and articles and, as such, reflect the interests of whoever is conducting the interview. I must say, though, that they have become the steady feature of the life of the publishing teacher and public critic. Wherever I go to lecture or publish a book, I am very grateful that kind and intellectually generous individuals give me the opportunity to answer their questions, on the spot and without preparation. In many ways, interviews are sustained acts of discovery, not only for the person being interviewed but for even the well-prepared interviewer. Thus, it is refreshingly often the case that someone with a long list of carefully written out questions discards the list and proceeds simultaneously and directly to talk to mefrom out of our discussion rather than off a pageand then more discovery often does occur, with results that are usually unpredictable. Every situation therefore reflects a specific set of circumstances, and since I have been involved in the public domain as a political activist as well as an intellectual and scholar, all sorts of challenges arise, which I have tried to meet. In any case, it is my hope that despite their informality and relatively wide-ranging nature, these interviews will also answer to the reader's interests and concernsat another time, in another place. e.w.s. New York, March 20, 2001 INTRODUCTION by Gauri Viswanathan Few authors today are as prolific as Edward W. Said. The author of almost two dozen books, Said has written on a broad array of topics ranging from literary criticism to Middle East politics to opera, film, and travel. His views, marked by an engaging communicative energy, have reached a wide audience through his publications, articles and books, whether the subject is Joseph Conrad, Richard Wagner, or Palestine and the peace process. He is also the subject of several full-length works and anthologies of critical essays; indeed, there are at least a half dozen publications every year on his work, and books offering critical perspectives on Edward Said have become a growth industry in themselves. So much has been written by and about him that one can be pardoned for asking what new insights a book of interviews can be expected to provide that are not already present in Said's writings or in works about him. The answer is simple: The interviews Said gave over the past three decades boldly announce that neither his own books and essays nor those written about him have the last word. The first thing to note is not
First Chapter
Preface

This collection of interviews covers the years 1976 to 2000, as well as a wide variety of subjects. Except for the first one, which appeared in the Cornell University journal Diacritics and was a written exchange between the editors and myself, all of these pieces occurred, so to speak, in a face-to-face situation. Necessarily then, they reflect the immediacy of such encounters, the back-and-forth, the informal question-and-answer language, the circling around, making, and remaking of a point or argument, the challenge and counter-challenge of interviewer(s) and interviewee. They have been edited first of all by the journals, newspapers, and magazines that conducted the interviews in the first place and where they originally appeared, second by Professor Gauri Viswanathan and Shelley Wanger, third by me. As such then, they are a composite of direct discourse and later clarification. No effort at all has been made by anyone involved to make these interviews seem more “writerly.” They are therefore principally the records of various occasions, in many different times and places, publications, interviewers (the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, India), and many different situations, moods, and concerns.

Interviews play a role that essays and books do not. Most often in my case, they have arisen as responses to what I have written in my books and articles and, as such, reflect the interests of whoever is conducting the interview. I must say, though, that they have become the steady feature of the life of the publishing teacher and public critic. Wherever I go to lecture or publish a book, I am very grateful that kind and intellectually generous individuals give me the opportunity to answer their questions, on the spot and without preparation. In many ways, interviews are sustained acts of discovery, not only for the person being interviewed but for even the well-prepared interviewer. Thus, it is refreshingly often the case that someone with a long list of carefully written out questions discards the list and proceeds simultaneously and directly to talk to me—from out of our discussion rather than off a page—and then more discovery often does occur, with results that are usually unpredictable. Every situation therefore reflects a specific set of circumstances, and since I have been involved in the public domain as a political activist as well as an intellectual and scholar, all sorts of challenges arise, which I have tried to meet. In any case, it is my hope that despite their informality and relatively wide-ranging nature, these interviews will also answer to the reader’s interests and concerns—at another time, in another place.

e.w.s.
New York,
March 20, 2001


INTRODUCTION
by Gauri Viswanathan

Few authors today are as prolific as Edward W. Said. The author of almost two dozen books, Said has written on a broad array of topics ranging from literary criticism to Middle East politics to opera, film, and travel. His views, marked by an engaging communicative energy, have reached a wide audience through his publications, articles and books, whether the subject is Joseph Conrad, Richard Wagner, or Palestine and the peace process. He is also the subject of several full-length works and anthologies of critical essays; indeed, there are at least a half dozen publications every year on his work, and books offering critical perspectives on Edward Said have become a growth industry in themselves. So much has been written by and about him that one can be
pardoned for asking what new insights a book of interviews can be expected to provide that are not already present in Said’s writings or in works about him.

The answer is simple: The interviews Said gave over the past three decades boldly announce that neither his own books and essays nor those written about him have the last word. The first thing to note is not only the number of interview
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A fascinating, oblique entry into the mind of one whose own writings . . . are a brilliant questioning chronicle of contemporary culture and values." --Nadine Gordimer "Edward Said [is] arguably the most consequential literary, cultural, and geopolitical critic of our time." Richard Poirier "These fascinating and revealing interviews reinforce Edward Said's standing as one of our foremost public intellectuals. His is a democratic and cosmopolitan humanism . . . [that] enlarge[s] our understanding of the world and of ourselves." Eric Foner
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Summaries
Main Description
Edward Said has long been considered one of the world's most compelling public intellectuals, taking on a remarkable array of topics with his many publications. But no single book has encompassed the vast scope of his stimulating erudition quite likePower, Politics, and Culture, a collection of interviews from the last three decades. In these twenty-eight interviews, Said addresses everything from Palestine to Pavarotti, from his nomadic upbringing under colonial rule to his politically active and often controversial adulthood, and reflects on Austen, Beckett, Conrad, Naipaul, Mahfouz, and Rushdie, as well as on fellow critics Bloom, Derrida, and Foucault. The passion Said feels for literature, music, history, and politics is powerfully conveyed in this indispensable complement to his prolific life's work. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Main Description
Edward Said has long been considered one of the world's most compelling public intellectuals, taking on a remarkable array of topics with his many publications. But no single book has encompassed the vast scope of his stimulating erudition quite like Power, Politics, and Culture, a collection of interviews from the last three decades. In these twenty-eight interviews, Said addresses everything from Palestine to Pavarotti, from his nomadic upbringing under colonial rule to his politically active and often controversial adulthood, and reflects on Austen, Beckett, Conrad, Naipaul, Mahfouz, and Rushdie, as well as on fellow critics Bloom, Derrida, and Foucault. The passion Said feels for literature, music, history, and politics is powerfully conveyed in this indispensable complement to his prolific life's work. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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