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Marxism and Literary Criticism by Terry…

Marxism and Literary Criticism (1976)

by Terry Eagleton

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I've been revisiting my old college textbooks lately, looking for new ways to think about books. Eagleton's "Marxism and Literary Criticism" is as good a place to start this sort of project as any. He writes clearly and comprehensibly, which, considering the subject matter, might be an achievement in itself. He gives a pretty good rundown of the theorists who've made important contributions to this field and emphasizes the complexity -- the multiple levels of interpretation -- of any sort of serious literary analysis. I can't really judge if his efforts are successful, but he seems to work pretty hard to stay away from the overly systematic analysis that he -- and a lot of other latter-day Marxists -- disdainfully refer to as "vulgar Marxism." A few criticisms: Eagleton's history of literary criticism, which, until Stalin came around anyway, might which admittedly seems more liberal than I would have assumed, smacks of academic score-settling. Also, this isn't the place to go for an explanation of really thorny theoretical issues: this brief volume does, however, point readers in the general direction of Benjamin, Brecht, and others. A relative newcomer to literary theory is likely to find something in here of value in here, though. ( )
  TheAmpersand | Oct 12, 2013 |
I don't know what Eagleton has done to rattle kettle666's bars - this is no raving polemic but a dispassionate review of a common literary theory and its major theorists. A good summary for undergraduate study.
3 vote Zambaco | Oct 30, 2009 |
Here is a prime example of a deeply nasty book - written by a deluded ideologist, who has teetered from one extremist view, that of a roman catholic, to another, marxism. Religion bites into people and leaves tragic teethmarks that can last forever. Eagleton is an incurable evangelist, and authors are pushed through his Spanish Inquisitional boot and distorted to his own ends. Why do so many academics find narrow viewpoints so attractive? Why do they so readily apply ideology to dictate their religious, cultural and political attitudes, which they then spread like an evil virus to young people in their charge? Eagleton is an excellent illustration of a conformist to all these 'qualities'. He is a talebanic extremist, and it doesn't matter a damn that he's a left wing example. Left and right are mirror images anyway; think Stalin and Hitler, or Mao and Bin Laden. Fanatics all of them, and unfortunately they tend to have huge drives, and they influence us more than they should. The fascist ultimately shakes hands with his mirror image, and when Hitler embraces Stalin you have the perfect marriage. Eagleton attempts to punch way above his weight, but at least he's only doing bad things at a local academic level. I'm glad neither of my sons got exposed to the guy. I feel sorry for students who get taken in. He is like George Galloway, pure distorted propagandist. Of course, he is no Pol Pot, Castro, or Mugabe. And fortunately Eagleton is also a rotten writer, so his preaching constipated prose doesn't get outside academe very much. Read his one novel, which I confess I couldn't complete, and have forgotten everything within it including its title, but which illustrates perfectly why he has never written a second. Terry, you're the perfect illustration of 'those who can't, teach'. Except, in your case, the last word should be 'preach'.
  kettle666 | Jan 31, 2008 |
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If Karl Marx and Frederick Engels are better known for their political and economic rather than literary writings, this is not in the least because they regarded literature as insignificant.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0520032438, Paperback)

Marxist literary criticism is becoming increasingly important in Europe as a whole, and interest in the subject is rapidly growing in this country. In this book, Dr. Eagleton analyses the major issues that the subject presents, discussing the writing of Marx and Engles themselves and the work of such critics as Plekhanov, Trotsky, Lenin, Lukacs, Goldmann, Caudwell, Benjamin and Crecht. They are seen from four viewpoints central to Marxist thought: the realation of literature to history, the problem of 'form' and 'content' in literature, the questions of literature and political commitment, and the importance of production and technology in art. Dr. Eagleton's exploration of these critical stances throws useful light on the connection between the Marxist approach and structuralism.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:14 -0400)

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