chapter  11
13 Pages

On Late Style: Edward Said’s Humanism


Since Edward Said’s untimely death in September 2003, his interventions appear all the more poignant particularly in terms of Palestine toward which so much of his energy was directed. Although Said was unquestionably Palestine’s best known spokesperson in the West, he had an uncanny ability not to succumb to nationalistic rhetoric or fervour. Rather, he maintained a critical independence. That he was able to do so, is not surprising given his commitment to a humane secular politics which underpinned his entire project. During his last few years, with Said aware that he had a debilitating disease; his work was underpinned by an urgency and power that can be witnessed in Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth (1967). This also was written at a time when Fanon knew that his life was drawing to a close. Edward Said’s late style is one that emerged in what can be described as a ‘space of death’.2 It is a style that is ‘informal, freely ruminative, personal, and tirelessly reexamining his thinking as it encountered the new circumstances of the post-9/11 world’.3