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Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said

Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said

Author Timothy Brennan
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date March 23, 2021
Section New Hardcover - Biography / Literary Crit & Biography
Type New
Format Hardcover
ISBN 9780374146535

The first comprehensive biography of the most influential, controversial, and celebrated Palestinian intellectual of the twentieth century

As one of Edward Said’s graduate students and close friends until his death in 2003, Timothy Brennan had unprecedented access to his thesis adviser’s ideas and legacy. In this authoritative work, Said, the pioneer of postcolonial studies, a tireless champion for his native Palestine, and an erudite literary critic, emerges as a self-doubting, tender, eloquent advocate of literature’s dramatic effects on politics and civic life.

Charting the intertwined routes of Said’s intellectual development, Places of Mind reveals him as a study in opposites: a cajoler and strategist, a New York intellectual with a foot in Beirut, an orchestra impresario in Weimar and Ramallah, a raconteur on national television, a Palestinian negotiator at the State Department, and an actor in films in which he played himself. Brennan traces the Arab influences on Said’s thinking along with his tutelage under Lebanese statesmen, off-beat modernist auteurs, and New York literati, as Said grew into a scholar whose influential writings changed the face of university life forever. With both intimidating brilliance and disarming charm, Said melded these resources into a groundbreaking and influential countertradition of radical humanism, set against the backdrop of techno-scientific dominance and religious war. With unparalleled clarity, Said gave the humanities a new authority in the age of Reaganism, one that continues today.

Drawing on the testimonies of family, friends, students, and antagonists alike, and aided by FBI files, unpublished writings, and Said’s personal letters, Places of Mind synthesizes Said’s intellectual breadth and influence into an unprecedented, intimate, and compelling portrait of one of the great minds of the twentieth century.

Timothy Brennan is the author of several books, including At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now; Borrowed Light: Vico, Hegel, and the Colonies; and Salman Rushdie and the Third World: Myths of the Nation. His writing has appeared in The NationThe Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books, and other outlets. The Samuel Russell Chair in the Humanities at the University of Minnesota, he has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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