Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Edward W. Said Speaks to Enthusiastic Berkeley Audience

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Edward W. Said Speaks to Enthusiastic Berkeley Audience

Article excerpt

EDWARD W. SAID SPEAKS TO ENTHUSIASTIC BERKELEY AUDIENCE

Edward W. Said, acclaimed Palestinian-American scholar, author, and professor of comparative literature at Columbia University, appeared at King Middle School in Berkeley, California on Nov 4. Speaking before a standing-room-only audience, Said discussed and read portions from his new book, Out of Place, a Memoir, published in October 1999 by Knopf. As Berkeley is one of the most politically active communities in the country, many audience members were surprised that Said spoke mostly about the "peculiarities" of his childhood, rather than the Israeli-Palestinian problem and final status negotiations.

Said explained he had two reasons for writing the book. The first reason was his battle with a rare form of leukemia in 1993 when chemotherapy treatment prevented him from traveling or pursuing his other interests during that time. The second reason was to memorialize the irrecoverable "lost worlds," as he referred to the three countries where he spent his childhood, all of which have profoundly changed since his early years. At the time of his birth in Jerusalem on Nov. 1, 1935, Palestine was governed by Great Britain under a U.N. mandate. His neighborhood in West Jerusalem, Talbiyeh, was a predominantly Christian Arab enclave, while today it is an exclusively Jewish neighborhood.

Egypt, where he attended the Gezira Preparatory School in Cairo, was ruled by King Farouk until the officers' revolution of July 1952, which ousted King Farouk and the British and which brought Cot. Gamal Abd al-Nasser to power after the brief presidency of Gen. Mohammed Naguib. Said's family spent their summers in Dhour alShweir, a mountain village in pre-civil war Lebanon, where they lived austerely, without a car, telephone, radio, or many other amenities they enjoyed in Cairo. To the amusement of the audience, he said the summers spent in Lebanon created his "lifelong hatred of nature. …

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