Narrating a Forgotten World : Exile, Leukemia, and Narrative Desire in Edward Said’s Out of Place


Lee, yoo-hyeok

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This paper examines the question of why some people desperately attempt to undertake a project of representing their life in the form of a written narrative. Almost everyone appears to have this narrative desire, the desire for story, which gets strongly prompted especially when they realize that their days on earth are numbered. The acute awareness of their mortality stimulates their desire for narrative, that is, the desire for immortality. Edward Said undertakes to narrate his early life in the region called Palestine and its surrounding area. This narrative desire gets motivated by his realization of a deadly disease, leukemia. Interestingly, Said’s memoir Out of Place is more about his experience of exile from the early years of his life than about his painful experience of the treatment of leukemia. Said’s exile and leukemia interact in the process of producing his memoir. I thus explore and elaborate on this topic in my paper. Furthermore, Said extends his personal, familial experience of exile to the collective history of the same experience by Palestinian people. In relation to this point, I consider how Said’s memoir can serve as an alternative historiography which counters against the hegemonic discourse of Palestine and Palestinian people constructed by Zionists. Memoir as an alternative historiography, I argue, can effectively become part of and contribute to an extensive historiography of Palestine and Palestinian people. Memoir as a project of rewriting the past can also serve as a cultural politics of remembering.


 Works Cited


  • Lee, yoo-hyeok 이유혁. Dongguk University


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