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Edward Saïd’s Bio

All the deets on your favorite critic’s personal life.

Basic Information

NameEdward Wadie Saïd
Tagline"People who live in glass houses in Israel shouldn't throw stones."
NicknameThe Post-Colonialist; Ed Saïd (oh how I wish that rhymed); Lover of the Other; Marquis de Saïd; Professor of Terror
Home townMy hometown is not one of those Western capitals of imperialist European thought with ivory towers and men in wigs. It's the holy city of Jerusalem, where people have been writing with chisels on slabs of rock since the dawn of time, thank you very much. But—and it's a big but—when I was born, Jerusalem was still under the control of the British. As a boy, I lived "out of place" (appropriately, the title of my memoir) in Cairo (Egypt) and in Jerusalem (Palestine). Some people think that I wasn't really down with the little people because I lived with a troop of servants and had a rich dad. But believe me—all the money in the world couldn't make me feel at home. Sigh. I felt even more out of place when I picked up and went to the United States, where I attended Princeton and Harvard and developed hero worship of other rock stars of theory like Theodor Adorno and Michel Foucault. Even though I've become an academic celebrity, I can never shake that feeling of alienation and dislocation, so my writing always reflects my destiny to wander. In other words, hometown? Shmometown.

Work & Education

OccupationSticking it to white European thought and its bogus representations of Eastern culture in general and the Middle East specifically. Along the way, if you must know, I've been a professor and a lecturer of English and Comparative Literature at over a hundred universities. When I'm not lecturing or denouncing Eurocentric prejudices against Arabo–Islamic peoples, I'm hitting the piano harder than Linus from Peanuts. I play like a pro and could have taken a different career path but Palestine always calls out to me.
EducationIt isn't easy being me. Let's start with my name: "Edward Saïd." It's like half "Prince of Wales," half Arab everyman. Like I say in my autobiography, I was "a Palestinian going to school in Egypt, with an English first name, an American passport, and no certain identity, at all" (from Out of Place). I went to an élite colonial school in Egypt where you'd get the beat down if you spoke anything but English. When I got kicked out, I cursed them in Arabic but gave them the bird in English. (Just to be sure they got the message). Anyway, the joke was on them because I learned English, French, and Arabic languages, and picked up a BA and PhD from Princeton and Harvard, respectively. How's that for an alien, a Non-European Other? Snap.


Political viewsYou better get comfortable because here's where I really rock the mic. We're gonna start big and then I'll do some explaining. But first, let me just say that I know my ideas might ruffle a few feathers, but they're my ideas—not Shmoop's, not yours, not anyone's but mine. In the United States, I've been the most notorious supporter of Palestinian independence. In short, I'm a ferocious opponent of American and Israeli policies. There's even a famous pic of me at the Lebanese border hurling, er, stones at an Israeli guardhouse with my Palestinian comrades. What they called an act of violence, I call a ''symbolic gesture of joy'' because Israel finally got the heck out of Lebanon (source). I said it then, and I'll say it now: It was a pebble; there was nobody there. The guardhouse was at least half a mile away—but check out that pitching arm. Out of my way, Roger Clemens! Okay, okay. Full disclosure? I may hang out with folks who were suspected of having ties to terrorist organizations (anti-Israeli and anti-American), but I certainly have never been a party to that. Whatever you may think of me and my ideas, I want you to know that I do believe a few things for certain: Palestine is the victim in nasty clash over territory (I call them "the dispossessed") known as the Israeli-Palestine conflict, and any act violence by a Palestinians is totally understandable if you ask me. As for those, those Israelis, well, they kill Palestinians on a much grander scale—refugee camp bombings, anyone?In my humble opinion, the Palestinians need their own homeland, and they need it now. We refuse to acknowledge the state of Israel. And get this: as a spokesperson for the Palestinian cause, I worked on the new Palestinian constitution. Yeah, it was kind of a big deal.
Religious viewsMany people assume that I'm Muslim just because I gave a hoot about Palestine, but I'm not. In fact, I'm Episcopalian, thank you very much, and even married a Quaker.

Activities & Interests

LikesThrowing rocks/pebbles/handfuls of sand
Playing classical European pieces on the piano and then messing with the endings
Making fun of British accents
Indian food
Writing angry editorials
Dressing up like a Pharaoh
Rooting out colonialist evil in 19th-century English novels
The Big Apple (America can do some things right)
Flirting with Anti-American politics
DislikesMadonna's Ray of Light album
Buddhas made out of soap
Mandarin oranges
Teriyaki Burgers and anything else from Benihana Grill especially things involving the arbitrary use of pineapple and the construction of tinfoil swans
Women who put chopsticks in their hair
Nicki Minaj and her whole Orientalist Black Barbie look
Lawrence of Arabia
"Kung Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas (catchy but offensive)
InterestsThinking about my troubled childhood
Putting pushpins on a giant map of the world—one for every university I have every lectured at
Hanging out with my pro-Palestinian peeps
Pondering contradictions
Listing everything that was wrong with the Enlightenment
Throwing spitballs in Shakespeare lectures at Columbia
Playing with soldiers
Working on my catapult kit
Drawing mustaches on pictures of Israeli soldiers
Calling the US president and hanging up
Champions of All Things Palestinian
Palestinian National Council (PNC)
Piano Players for Palestine (PPP)
Honorary Member of Lebanon's Shot Put Club, a.k.a. United Stone Throwers

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