Edward Said Documentary
D.D. Guttenplan writes about the documentary he made about the late Edward Said, and which lucky Londoners will have a chance to see this summer. Guttenplan writes with humor about his first encounter with Said, in which he asked him to sponsor a year of study in France.
I was interested in the overlap between philosophy and literary criticism and wanted to go and see Roland Barthes in Paris. (I also wanted to loaf in cafes, drink endless grandes cremes and generally make the most of being 19 years old and abroad.) But I was broke.
My adviser suggested my grant application would be much more successful if it was endorsed by his friend Edward Said, at the time the only tenured member of Columbia’s English department on speaking terms with French theory. All I knew about Said was that he was a Conrad scholar and the author of Beginnings, a book I was struggling to read. When I met Said in his office he quickly divined that my interest in structuralist theory was, well, rather theoretical. Far from being shocked, he seemed amused, and agreed to sponsor my research.
Guttenplan recounts briefly his later encounters with Said, reactions to the seminal Orientalism, the Oslo accords, Said’s long illness, and the decision to do the documentary.
Update: Here’s a review of the documentary. (Thanks, David.)