Archive | December, 2011

Review in Choice

07 Dec

“Veeser, H. Aram. Edward Said: the charisma of criticism. Routledge,
2010. 260p bibl index ISBN 9780415902649, $39.95

Coauthor (with Dana Self and Linda Nochlin) of the essays in the
exhibition catalog Ken Aptekar: Painting between the Lines, 1990-2000
(2001) and editor of The New Historicism (1989) and The New Historicism
Reader (I 994), Veeser (City College of New York) has written a
beautifully crafted examination of the legacy of the renowned
Palestinian literary critic, who died in 2003. Nearly two decades in
the writing, the book is neither hagiography nor attack. In each
chapter, the author provides a discussion (often dense) of Said’s
relationship with an intellectual or political movement, followed (and
mirrored) by a vignette of Veeser’s tortured relationship with that
movement’s particular critic or exponent. Among the topics: nonlinear
thinking, Orientalism, Swiftian satire, and religious criticism. Each
facet of Said’s thought falls within Veeser’s definition of charisma,
the powerful appeal of the individual within an institution. Veeser
suggests that Said’s foray into world politics was disappointing
because of his failure to consider the individual as always socially
embedded and, thus, not fully autonomous. None of this, Veeser argues,
detracts from Said’s charisma in the classroom, where he was most
brilliant and rhetorically effective, as evidenced by his many
successful students. Summing Up: Recommended. ** Upper-division
undergraduates through faculty.—B. A. McGowan, Moraine Valley
Community College”