The World of Edward Said

Esmat Elhalaby in the Boston Review:

On February 2, 1977, Palestinian poet Rashid Hussein died in his New York apartment. Hussein had been born forty-one years earlier in Musmus, a town not far from Nazareth. Politics for Hussein, Edward Said remembered, “lost its impersonality and its cruel demagogic spirit.” Hussein, Said wrote of his dear friend, “simply asked that you remember the search for real answers, and never give it up, never be seduced by mere arrangements.” Sharply critical of his own society and its rulers—he had a map of the Middle East on his wall with “thought forbidden here” scrawled across it in Arabic—Hussein was also a partisan of the Third World. “I am from Asia,” he pronounced in an early poem, “The land of fire / Forging furnace of freedom-fighters.”

Another of Hussein’s friends, Pakistani political scientist Eqbal Ahmad, wrote that he lived in “New York City as though it were a Palestinian town.” Born in 1936, Hussein was nearly the same age as Said. Had the dislocations of his life not burdened his soul so heavily—he died alone in his apartment, a lit cigarette setting fire to the mattress as he slept—Hussein may very well have lived alongside Said in Manhattan for a few decades more.

More here.