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On Evil by Terry Eagleton
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On Evil

by Terry Eagleton

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Showing 5 of 5
Moments of interest; generally glib and incoherent, lacking even a proper conclusion. ( )
  middlemarchhare | Nov 25, 2015 |
I'll concede to the previous author's comment on how the fascination of the introduction quickly died off from its resplendence as the pages went on. Or to be precise, the author's invocation of motley works of literature to enter into a discussion on evil ultimately confused me into understanding what was exactly the point of this book. But it should be mentioned that on its back cover, its back cover precisely inscribed with these words: "Philosophy / Literature," so please don't make the same mistake as the previous critic and buy books without knowing which genre they belong to.

But notwithstanding the equivocalness of the author's intent, the ideas on evil he broaches are sharp and insightful, many concepts which I found new to me. A notable one is his explanation of how evil has an affinity for nothingness, since a vacuity of meaning, purpose, and rationality resembles perfection, since it is independent from the laws of causality and therefore aging time. I've truncated and oversimplified his line of reasoning, but the fascination still remains.

Overall, I found this book very informative (not as humorous as people have thought to be), and after reading the novel, I've come to realize that his eliciting of several works of literature is to perhaps to show the different faces and perspectives of evil, and that its visage portrayed by Christianity is one of many viewpoints for human audience. By showcasing numerous ways to understand evil, Eagleton wants to do what Nietzsche accomplishes in many of his writing: destroying security over the little knowledge we thought we possess. ( )
  haebitchan | Jul 12, 2012 |
The author took a truly fascinating eternal question and wandered off into the weeds. The introduction was fascinating, but as soon as the discussion turned to characters in books that I hadn't read and that I don't want to read, I gave up.

It's a shame, too. The introductory material was very real-world, and I really wanted to continue to read something in the vein of how the book began. I just wasn't prepared to wade through literary pretension to get there. ( )
  Waterlylly | Oct 7, 2010 |
Reading Terry Eagleton either makes me feel incredibly clever ( “Literary Theory”, ”After Theory”) or incredibly stupid (“The Ideology Of The Aesthetic”, “Walter Benjamin, or Towards A Revolutionary Criticism”) His latest offerings have been slightly easier on the ego and “On Evil” is (for the most part) no exception. It's a whistle stop tour through Theology & Theodicy via, amongst others, Marx, Freud, Schopenhauer and Lacan. His argument ricochets through readings of “Macbeth”, “Brighton Rock”, “Pincher Martin” and “The Third Policeman” to arrive at a strangely unsatisfying conclusion.

Evil is something more than just wickedness after a workout.
Evil is purposeless, pointless, a non-rational “condition of being”. It’s aim is, accordingly anti-life, the void, nothingness. It’s like a passionless over-reaching Death-Drive. So while wickedness certainly abounds, Evil is, thankfully, very rare and “something we should not lose much sleep about”.

Unusually, this is one of Terry Eagleton’s conclusions that I could easily have arrived at independently although, obviously, not with the same rigour. Paradoxically this rigour may well be the problem - I’m not particularly patient. His meandering toward a final conclusion is never less than entertaining but I’m not entirely convinced it needed so many detours and 160 pages to get there. ( )
  P1g5purt | May 27, 2010 |
If Terry Eagleton is right that evil is literally, supremely pointless, and also reassuringly rare in a world full of human purpose, then why are we discovering it everywhere we look?

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/reviewofbooks_article/8347/ ( )
  angusk | Apr 22, 2010 |
Showing 5 of 5
If Terry Eagleton is right that evil is literally, supremely pointless, and also reassuringly rare in a world full of human purpose, then why are we discovering it everywhere we look?
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300151063, Hardcover)

In this witty, accessible study, the prominent Marxist thinker Terry Eagleton launches a surprising defense of the reality of evil, drawing on literary, theological, and psychoanalytic sources to suggest that evil, no mere medieval artifact, is a real phenomenon with palpable force in our contemporary world.

In a book that ranges from St. Augustine to alcoholism, Thomas Aquinas to Thomas Mann, Shakespeare to the Holocaust, Eagleton investigates the frightful plight of those doomed souls who apparently destroy for no reason.  In the process, he poses a set of intriguing questions.  Is evil really a kind of nothingness?  Why should it appear so glamorous and seductive?  Why does goodness seem so boring?  Is it really possible for human beings to delight in destruction for no reason at all?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:33 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In this witty, accessible study, the prominent Marxist thinker Terry Eagleton launches a surprising defence of the reality of evil, drawing on literary, theological, and psychoanalytic sources to suggest that evil, no mere medieval artefact, is a real phenomenon with palpable force in our contemporary world.… (more)

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Yale University Press

2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300151063, 0300171250

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