Beginnings: Intention and Method

Paperback | April 3, 1985

byEdward W. Said

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A "beginning," especially as embodied in much modern thought, is its own method, Edward Said argues in this classic treatise on the role of the intellectual and the goal of criticism. Distinguishing between "origin," which is divine, mythical, and privileged, and "beginning," which is secular and humanly produced, Said traces the ramifications and diverse understandings of the concept of beginning through history. A beginning is a first step in the intentional production of meaning and the production of difference from preexisting traditions. It authorizes subsequent texts-it both enables them and limits what is acceptable.

Drawing on the insights of Vico, Valery, Nietzsche, Saussure, Lévi-Strauss, Husserl, and Foucault, Said recognizes the novel as the major attempt in Western literary culture to give beginnings an authorizing function in experience, art, and knowledge. Scholarship should see itself as a beginning-as a uniting of theory and practice. Said's insistence on a criticism that is humane and socially responsible is what makes Beginnings a book about much more than writing: it is about imagination and action as well as the constraints on freedom and invention that come from human intention and the method of its fulfillment.

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A "beginning," especially as embodied in much modern thought, is its own method, Edward Said argues in this classic treatise on the role of the intellectual and the goal of criticism. Distinguishing between "origin," which is divine, mythical, and privileged, and "beginning," which is secular and humanly produced, Said traces the rami...

Edward W. Said was one of the world's most celebrated, outspoken, and influential public intellectuals until his death in 2003. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Humanism and Democratic Criticism (Columbia, 2004), Freud and the Non-European (2003), Power, Politics, and Culture (2001), Culture and Imperialism (1993)...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:414 pages, 8.75 × 1 × 0.68 inPublished:April 3, 1985Publisher:Columbia University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:023105937X

ISBN - 13:9780231059374

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It is the sense of total independence and, at times, of prophetic vision which makes [Beginnings]... exhilarating.