East and West
Chapter 8: Power and the Radical Arab Intellectual: Three Case Studies
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POWER AND THE RADICAL ARAB INTELLECTUAL: THREE CASE STUDIES
This chapter attempts to analyze the complexities of the relationship between the radical, Arab intellectual and political power in modern times through the examination of three cases—those of Taha Hussain, Al-Jawahiry, and Edward Said. Spanning the course of the whole of the twentieth-century, the careers of these three key, radical Arab intellectuals offer illustrative and illuminating examples of the relationship between political power and intellectuals in the Arab world generally. Although there are important differences between the three key figures—with Taha Hussain being the major example of the pioneering Arab intellectual of the early decades of the twentieth-century, the period of the Arab intellectual awakening, Al-Jawahiry, the exemplary political poet and intellectual and key leader in a mass political movement, and Edward Said, the exemplary Arab radical intellectual in exile who achieved international prestige and prominence—they share particularly illuminating similarities in the way they dealt or had to deal with political authority. While they largely reflect the changing historical conditions of early, middle, and late twentieth-century Arab socio-political and cultural conditions, the careers of these three figures also express, most deeply and extensively, themes that are common to generations of Arab intellectuals. In addition to the issue of coming to terms with the powers that be, these themes also include harmonizing ← 109 | 110 → local culture with western, and international, culture, the homeland and the attachment to place, and the issue of exile and...
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