Sunday, 14 August 2016


Edward Said's Prose Style

     Style is a fundamental aspect of prose. It is the literary element that describes the ways that the author uses words, sentence structure, figurative language, and sentence arrangement which work together to establish mood, images, and meaning in the text. Style describes how the author describes events, objects, and ideas. An author's style is what sets his or her writing apart and makes it unique. Edward Said is a distinguished prose writer of 21st century. Most of his writings are about discourses of imperialism, Islam, Palestinian colonization by Israel and music. Said's style of writing can be studied in thematic analysis of his essays and books. Paradoxical nature of identity, celebration of of exile, repetition of ideas, writer as theorist, interrogative introduction, imperialistic allusions, musicality of text and coining new terms are the salient features of Said's prose style.  
1. The Paradoxical Position
     As critic, political commentator, literary and cultural theorist or New York citizen, Edward Said demonstrates the often paradoxical nature of identity in an increasingly migratory and globalized world. In him, we find a person located in a tangle of cultural and theoretical contradictions: contradictions between his political voice and professional position; contradictions between the different ways in which he has been read; contradictions in the way he is located in the academy. The intimate connection between Said's identity and his cultural theory, and the paradoxes these reveal, show us something about the constructedness and complexity of cultural identity itself. 
2. Celebration of Exile
     Said deliberately celebrates exile in his prose. Whatever he writes, we see an intangible effect of nostalgia and thrust for rootlessness, because of all the trauma and pain of homelessness he has suffered. This places the exile in a singular position with regard to history and society, but also in a much more anxious and ambivalent position with regard to culture: "Exile ... is 'a mind of winter' in which the pathos of summer and autumn as much as the potential of spring are nearby but unobtainable. Perhaps this is another way of saying that a life of exile moves according to a different calendar, and is less seasonal and settled than life at home. Exile is life led outside habitual order. It is nomadic, decentered, contrapuntal; but no sooner does one get accustomed to it than its unsettling force erupts anew."
3. Repetition of Ideas
     Another important feature of Edward Said's writing is repetition of ideas. Repetition imposes certain constraints upon the interpretation of the text; it historicizes the text as something which originates in the world, which insists upon its own being. Said's work constantly rehearses the features of his own peculiar academic and cultural location, or the 'text' of his own life -- exile, politicization, the living of two lives, the insistent questions of identity, and the passionate defense of Palestine. All his essays in one or other way talk about same thing even he keeps stressing on one thing in one essay. For example his essays like "Islam as News" and "Orientalism" talk in a language of "binary opposition" to undermine the western culture and imperialism and its operation in the entire globe. 
4. Writer As Theorist
     Out of the issue of Palestine grows one of the most important themes in Said's theory -- the role of the intellectual. From the position of a professional literary theorist established in the elite academic environment of Columbia University, Said has been required to adopt the role of a spokesperson, called out to talk about political issues for which he had no special qualification. This confirmed his belief in the value of amateurism, but much more than that it gave him a vision of the importance of exile in empowering the intellectual to be detached from partisan politics in order to 'speak truth to power'. The sense of 'non-belonging' has confirmed his own sense that the public intellectual needs to speak from the margin. It is his unique characteristic of being a prose writer whom invents new positions and roles for a writer than just being a critic. 
5. Interrogative Introduction
     The style of Said seems to be discursive, conversational and even repetitive, but his writings are quite thought provoking. The most striking feature of his essays is that he begins his essay with a questions like statement to set a course of discussion in the mind of reader. In Representations of the Intellectual, while discussing the role of an intellectual, Said poses an important questioning the beginning: how far should an intellectual go in getting involved? Is is possible to join a party or faction and retain a semblance of independence? This question asking style has positioned Said's writings at a unique height of literary canon. 
6. Imperialistic Allusions From Literature
     In Said's writing while talking about relation between imperialism, colonization and culture we come across references of different Victorian novels like Robinson Crusoe, Great Expectations, Heart of Darkness and Mansfield Park to understand the underlined imperialist ideologies. Said believes that novel has been important in formation of imperialistic attitudes, references, and experiences, In Said's writing, novels are not the ones which caused imperialism, but that the novel is the cultural artifact of bourgeois society. He argues that the narratives of emancipation and enlightenment mobilized the people to rise against the yoke of imperialism. In short, illusions of previous time's fiction is a very striking feature of Said's writing. 
7. Musicality of Text
     Said was a music lover and a musician himself. Said was fascinated by the connection between memory and music, by how remembrances of things played, as he once put it, are enacted. Music for Said was inspiring. When he played Schubert's Fantasie in a film about him directed by Salem Brahimi, his face quivered with every note that his hands transported on the keyboard. Indeed, Said would always make connections and references to Palestine, even in his more esoteric essays about literature, theory, or music. Fantasie might also have served as a kind of premonition for Said that it would be his swansong, his passion for music always made him feel nostalgic about his past and homeland. Even in his text structure we see a very smooth pattern making his writing bit musical. 
8. Coining New Terms
     Said coined some useful terms like Orientalism and contrapuntal. In his book "Orientalism", Said defines orientalism as the acceptance in the West of "the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient, its people, customs, mind,  destiny and so on". Borrowed from music, where it refers to the relationship between themes, the term "contrapuntal reading" is used by Edward Said in "Culture and Imperialism" to describe the relationship between narratives set in metropolitan centres, or at least in the countryside, of the dominant colonial nations such as England and France, and the colonies upon which the great powers depended for their wealth. 
     Edward Said's prose style is inspiring, generative and eloquent. For writers striving to create structures of clarity and meaning, Said has few competitors. He is different from all other prose writers in sense of content and text. The concepts which he deals with are not discussed by any other prose writer. Underneath the self-posturing verbiage there is an acute analytic mind at work. Said is not only a critic but a socialist and a reformer as well. By dealing with sensitive issues like colonization, imperialism and trying to counter Islamophobia presented by the West, he mostly focuses on themes. In short, the most prominent features of Said's prose style are his use of imperialistic illusions and coining of new terms.  


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  2. This is a very useful and analytical description of Said style . in fact, It is a good framework which stands as a starting point to understand Said's works , Thanks alot