EDWARD SAID AS A CRITIC



Dr. Hareshwar Roy


INTRODUCTION: Edward Said is a great revolutionary modern critic. In an era of globalisation, he espoused the cause of Orientalism. He countered the structuralist and post structuralist theory of literary criticism. In fact, he is a great authority on the orient. In Orientalism he proves that the west has lashed a nasty propaganda against the orient. In order to impose its superiority it has painted an unworthy picture of the oriental nations. Edward Said exposes the hypocrisy of the western countries by his opinion.

ORIENTALISM: Orientalism is a discourse of the West about the East. It is a Western style for dominating, restructuring and having the authority over the orient. The notion of Orientalism is based on travel book and guidebook. Such texts express imaginative, baseless and unreal picture of a particular place or country. They do not deal with the originality of the author and the reality about the place or country. According to Said, whatever the Westerners knew about the orient in the 18th century came from such biased books. Thus Orientalism stands for a tradition and not for reality. Said is of the view that in want of speaking such an orient was silent. In want of unity this orient was divided into segments. By taking advantages of it the West powered over the orient with determination. In his opinion the picture of the orient is a figment of the imagination.



METAMORPHOSIS: According to Said, during the 19th and 20th centuries orientalists became more serious. It is because the reaches of imaginative and actual geography had shrunk. The Oriental - European relationship was determined by an unstoppable European expansion in search of markets, resources and colonies. Orientalism had accomplished itself metamorphosis from a scholarly discourse to an imperial institution. Thus preposterous transition took place. Though in the 19th century some European students showed sympathy with the orient, yet, orientalism overrode the orient. The Orientalists don't highlight the underlying unity and homogeneity of the orient. They put emphasis on its fragmented and racist affect. This clearly indicates the cultural and ideological hegemony of the West. The orient has been alienated from history and has been presented as an agglomeration of diverse races and civilizations.

ORIENTALIST ATTITUDE: After the Second World War the entire orient had gained its political independence from the Western empires. The die-hard orientalists failed to take notice of the changing international political scenario. They failed to reconcile to the reality. The hackneyed orientalism was scoffed at. In fact, the orientalists do not welcome the rise of the orient. They can't eye the march of the orient on the road of progress, prosperity and peace. They think that the Western races are superior and more enlightened. Talking about the attitude of the orientalist Edward Said remarks, 'The West is the spectator, the judge and jury, of every facet of oriental behaviour'.



CONCLUSION: Now days the eastern leaders are at liberty to design the fortune of their countries. They have shaken off the undue and dehumanizing influence of the West. This attitudinal change in the orient has sent shock waves to the orientalists. But in spite of that they are trying to overpower the orient once again. What worries Edward Said is, "a growing more and more dangerous rift." It is an irony that the orientalists have not yet learnt any lessons from the disastrous consequences of their myopic attitude towards the orient.

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