Hardly a week goes by since Edward Said's death without my explicitly missing, among other things, his exasperated yet eloquent words of political wisdom often expressed as op-eds in the New York Times, or Al Ahram, or elsewhere. My own last memory of him is of an evening while I was still a graduate student at Columbia and was off to meet a friend for drinks downtown when I saw Edward helping Sidney Morgenbesser get down the slope on 116th Street between Broadway and Riverside Drive. The two were walking slowly, arm-in-arm —neither was well— and stopped when they saw me about to pass them. I was carrying a book and Edward asked me something like, “What are you pretending to read, Bugger?” (One of his several affectionate nicknames for me.) I showed him the copy of The Kreutzer Sonata that I had in my hand and he said, “Don't let Tolstoy corrupt you!” with a twinkle in his eye. I exchanged some pleasantries with Sidney and then they moved on. I crossed the street and remember turning around to watch the two of them shuffling down toward Riverside, and that is my last memory of both of them: an Arab and a Jew, an intellectual colossus and an academic gadfly (one could call Sidney a modern-day Socrates), helping each other get home in New York City. There is still something poignant about it, at least for me.
This past Monday night there was an event in remembrance of Edward at Columbia. Here is an account by Allie O'Keefe in the Columbia Spectator:
Students and academics gathered Monday night to reflect on the life and legacy of Columbia professor Edward Said on the 10th anniversary of his death.
Said, a professor of English and comparative literature, gained fame through his books, especially “Orientalism” and “Culture and Imperialism,” and for his advocacy for Palestinian statehood. He died of leukemia in 2003 at the age of 67.
Presenters at the event, which was sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies, the Department of English and Comparative Literature, the Heyman Center for the Humanities, and the Middle East Institute, lauded Said’s academic and political accomplishments and spoke of his intelligence, courage, and charm.
And here is an article by Vijay Prasad in The Hindu, “He said so 10 years ago“.
And this: “Paying tribute to Edward W. Said“.
And here is an excellent remembrance of Edward by my nephew Asad Raza which was published at 3QD in 2005 to commemorate his second death anniversary, “Optimism of the Will“.
I collected some articles by and about Edward on the first anniversary of his death here.
And here is the complete last interview: