Terry Eagleton

Terry Eagleton has written around fifty books, including, most famously, Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983), and around eighty LRB pieces. His subjects have included critics (Erich Auerbach, Mikhail Bakhtin, Georg Lukacs, I.A. Richards, Stanley Fish, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak), Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion and many novels. He taught for many years at Oxford, becoming the Warton Professor of English Literature in 1992, and then at Manchester and Lancaster.

Where does culture come from?

Terry Eagleton, 25 April 2024

InJude the Obscure, Jude Fawley finds himself living in Beersheba, the area of Oxford we know as Jericho, home at the time to a community of craftsmen and artisans who maintained the fabric of the university. It doesn’t take Jude long to realise that he and his fellow craftsmen are, so to speak, the material base without which the intellectual superstructure of the colleges...

Seeds of What Ought to Be: Hegel gets real

Terry Eagleton, 22 February 2024

Hegel’s dissatisfaction with the revolutions he surveys comes down in almost every instance to their otherworldliness or estrangement from reality, whether we are speaking of Jesus or Robespierre, ancient Athenian philosophers or modern Kantians. 

Be like the Silkworm: Marx’s Style

Terry Eagleton, 29 June 2023

Working​ on Capital in the British Museum, plagued by creditors and carbuncles, Karl Marx complained not only that nobody had ever written so much about money and had so little of it, but that ‘this economic crap’ was keeping him from writing his big book on Balzac. His work is studded with allusions to Homer, Sophocles, Rabelais, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Goethe and scores of...

What’s your story?

Terry Eagleton, 16 February 2023

Forty years ago​, Peter Brooks produced a pathbreaking study, Reading for the Plot, which was part of the so-called narrative turn in literary criticism. Narratology, as it became known, spread swiftly to other disciplines: law, psychology, philosophy, religion, anthropology and so on. But a problem arose when it began to seep into the general culture – or, as Brooks puts it, into...

Does marmalade exist?

Terry Eagleton, 27 January 2022

Because the social world is constructed, Bull’s sceptical stance can be transformative. You can ‘make less’ of society, in the sense of questioning its apparently inexorable laws; and if enough people do this it can make a difference, in a way that questioning the existence of marmalade doesn’t. You need to loosen things up, weaken their force, inject more uncertainty into our knowledge, so as to bring the world into line with our experience of it as ambiguous and contingent.

Is it really so wrong? Evil

Glen Newey, 23 September 2010

English has a problem with the morally bad. Terry Eagleton reports his son’s approving reaction when told that his father was writing a book on evil: ‘Wicked!’ Words like...

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In the age of Sophocles or of Shakespeare, tragic drama concerned the deaths of nobles and notables, individuals whose lives were closely entwined with the health of the state. In the 19th...

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Putting on Some English: Eagleton’s Rise

Terence Hawkes, 7 February 2002

In the United States, ‘English’ can mean ‘spin’: a deliberate turn put on a ball by striking it so that it swerves. It’s a subtle epithet, perhaps recording a canny...

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Soft Cop, Hard Cop

Seamus Deane, 19 October 1995

Terry Eagleton’s new book, not merely a series of studies in Irish culture but one of the most noteworthy contributions to it of recent times, realigns Irish writing within contemporary...

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Saint Terence

Jonathan Bate, 23 May 1991

In 1978 Terry Eagleton wrote an essay on John Bayley in the New Left Review. It is a ritual excoriation of that most tactful of ‘liberal humanist’ critics, punctuated with predictable...

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Who can blame him?

Frank Kermode, 5 April 1990

‘Something is happening to the way we think,’ said Clifford Geertz in 1980, and Stanley Fish is right to add that Geertz was partly responsible for the shift. But Fish, in a bold essay...

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R.W. Johnson, 8 February 1990

Raymond Williams’s death in January 1988 has been followed by an avalanche of obituarial tribute. To some extent, the tributes were a matter of the Left giving a last, sad cheer for one of...

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Unquiet Deaths

Patrick Parrinder, 3 September 1987

According to John Ruskin, ‘in the work of the great masters death is always either heroic, deserved, or quiet and natural.’ Not so in Marguerite Yourcenar’s world. She is...

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Pamphleteer’s Progress

Patrick Parrinder, 7 February 1985

Terry Eagleton’s books have been getting shorter recently. It is eight years since he offered to re-situate literary criticism on the ‘alternative terrain of scientific...

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From Plato to Nato

Christopher Norris, 7 July 1983

Eagleton’s book is both a primer and a postmortem. It surveys the varieties of recent and present-day literary theory, only to suggest – in its closing chapter – that they had...

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Michael Wood, 5 May 1983

‘All the unhurried day,’ Philip Larkin wrote, addressing a long-dead girl who had been drugged and raped in London, ‘Your mind lay open like a drawer of knives.’ All that...

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