In reading Edward Said, particularly works such as Out of Place and Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, one is left wondering about the peculiar position that Said, the “exile,” holds in relation to writing. In this essay, I examine this relation by following and exploring the figure of exile that permeates Said's many writings. The heart of Said's peculiarity, as I see it, stems from a seemingly simple question: can we say that Said is writing in exile? What is that “in” that is posited before the word exile? How can the experience of exile, that never-ending experience of being shut out, follow an “in”?
By following the figure of exile, rather than delimit it from the outset, the essay aims to complicate our understanding of the manner in which different lines of thought (from Foucault to Palestinian politics) appear in Said's work. I argue that questions and complexes of freedom and limits, which are seen here though an ethos of exilic walking, are central to any such understanding.