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Places of the Mind Reviews

Places of the Mind by Timothy Brennan

Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said

Timothy Brennan

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2 reviews

Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date: 18 Mar 2021
ISBN: 9781526614650

Drawing on extensive archival sources and hundreds of interviews, Timothy Brennan's Places of Mind is the first comprehensive biography of Said, one of the most controversial and celebrated intellectuals of the 20th century.

4 stars out of 5
Patrick French
25 Apr 2021

"an exceptionally fluent intellectual biography that synthesises the complex influences on his work while outlining the details of his life"

Brennan’s biography makes clear that despite his at times disparate way of writing, and a tendency to range across literature, politics, music and beyond, Said was far from being the dilettante his opponents liked to claim. His books might be faulted for not knowing about this or that German orientalist, but a lack of completeness was inevitable in such expansive work. From early on he had absorbed philosophy, literary and critical theory, structuralism, poststructuralism, and the work of thinkers such as Heidegger, Vico and Gramsci, alongside the canonical novels he read as a committed teacher at Columbia University.


3 stars out of 5
Justin Marozzi
13 Mar 2021

" a powerful book which is at times as difficult and demanding as its subject"

Brennan’s enthusiasm for his former teacher can get the better of him in a powerful book which is at times as difficult and demanding as its subject. He calls Said ‘the most influential, controversial and celebrated intellectual of the 20th century’. We can agree that here was a superstar who blazed a rich cultural and literary legacy, but even Said, a vain man with much to be vain about, would have dismissed this as high-grade hagiography.