A review by aimiller
Literary Theory: An Introduction, by Terry Eagleton

informative reflective medium-paced


Okay so as An Historian, I don’t think I need to be convinced hugely of the major interventions here about identifying these literary theory movements as being historically grounded and appearing at specific times with specific politics—and that they are in fact deeply imbued with politics. But I do think that Eagleton does so clearly and convincingly. It was also very useful to have these movements described to me, a person who is not at all familiar with most of them except maybe post-structuralism very loosely. The psychoanalysis chapter in particular I think takes Freud seriously in a way that almost no one seems to (for better or for worse.)

The one flaw I would really highlight is that Eagleton references the Russian Formalists a LOT and I don’t think ever explains Formalism? (I really only noticed this because he DOES spend an entire chapter doing so in How to Read a Poem, and I realized that I finally understood what he was talking about.) And again, maybe that’s something that you have a better understanding of if you’re like a student of Literature and not just an idiot off the street like me. 

The conclusion of the book really was what made me stand up and applaud, even if, of course, the afterword to the edition I read explains why perhaps some of the things he called for in that conclusion didn’t play out as he had maybe wanted or hoped. But I found the book on the whole to be really valuable if not as immediately delightful as his other works that I’ve read.