‘Culture and Imperialism’ by Edward Said can be an eye opening book. It opens many doors to see things in diversified dimensions. Edward Said travelled across the vast corpus of western or colonial literature to show his point more vividly that culture also helped to continue, increase and expand colonial empire and justify their actions.
How culture and literature is not innocent of the vices of colonialism and imperialism can be traced in the book. Said referred almost all the major 18th and 19th century novels of English, French and American literature to assert his points assertively.
The students of literature can get proper guidelines to understand and explain literary text in various dimensions. For history students it is surely a mandatory text, and for the students of political science it should be a must suggested book.
As he done his PhD on Joseph Conrad so we will see the reference of Conrad and his novels like ‘Heart of Darkness’, ‘Nostromo’, ‘Lord Jim’, ‘Victory’ etc again and again.
Rudyard Kipling and his ‘Kim’ fall under severe scrutiny by the able hands of Said. Writers like Kipling wanted to justify British rule by pointing that ‘without Britain India would disappear into its own corruption and under development’.(p202) Edward Said said rather bluntly that ‘Kipling’s fiction posting the Indian as a creature clearly needing British tutelage’.(p202)
We can receive important insights on texts and how we should view them, take, consider, value or judge them. He wrote that ‘Texts by dead people were read, appreciated, and appropriated by people who imagined an ideal commonwealth. This is one reason that scholars rarely speak suspiciously or disparagingly of the Renaissance.’ (p235)
‘Culture and Imperialism’ will help us to explain the world and its crises better.
It can be a tool, a necessary weapon to dissect world affairs, cultural hegemony, the past, present and future crises.
We need to go on and again to Edward Said to understand our problems better and solutions ahead