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For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies by Robert Irwin

By Robert Irwin

The ebook of Edward Said's highly influential Orientalism in 1981 known as into query the whole background of the Western examine of Islamic tradition. Said's e-book condemned his scholarly culture as an establishment that awarded faulty and demeaning representations of Islamic peoples, and got here to dominate educational thinking.

But what's Orientalism, who have been the Orientalists, and the way did Western students of Islamic tradition develop into referred to as brokers of eu imperialism? during this groundbreaking heritage, Robert Irwin solutions those questions with the colourful tale of the motley group of the intellectuals and eccentrics who bridged the space among the Islamic international and the West. by way of reading such different resources as historic Greek perceptions of the Persians, a portrait of the 1st Western eu translators of Arabic, and the modern Muslim world's conception of the Western examine of Islam, Irwin affirms the worth of the Orientalists' legacy.

For Lust of understanding is a charming background, a daring argument, and an pressing redress of our conceptions in regards to the courting among the East and the West.

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Extra resources for For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies

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1510–81), and that Orientalism either begins in the sixteenth century with him or, if not quite so early as that, then no later than the mid-seventeenth century, when JacobGolius (1596–1667) and Edward Pococke (1604–91), as well as other not quite so learned or industrious figures, published their ground-breaking researches. However, I shall briefly discuss what might be mistakenly interpreted as evidence of early Orientalism in antiquity and the Middle Ages, before rushing on to the seventeenth and later centuries.

10 THE SPANISH RESPONSE Serious Christian attempts to understand Islam as opposed to mere abuse began in Spain, though naturally the clerics who sought to understand Islam better only did so in order to have more material with which to refute its errors. Even so, there were some who disapproved of any study of Islam or Arabic for whatever reason. In the ninth century Paul Alvarus denounced those Christians who were engaged in ‘building up great libraries of them [Arabic writings] at enormous cost… hardly one can write a passable Latin letter to a friend, but innumerable are those who can express themselves in Arabic and can compose poetry in that language better than the Arabs themselves’.

From the latter point of view, the rise of Orientalism begins at about the same time as the great age of European imperialism. My own view, which I shall be setting out in more detail in the course of this book, is that there was nobody one could consider to be a serious Orientalist prior to Guillaume Postel (c. 1510–81), and that Orientalism either begins in the sixteenth century with him or, if not quite so early as that, then no later than the mid-seventeenth century, when JacobGolius (1596–1667) and Edward Pococke (1604–91), as well as other not quite so learned or industrious figures, published their ground-breaking researches.

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