Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 8

Terry Eagleton

Terence Francis Eagleton FBA[1] (born 1943) is a British literary theorist, critic,
Terry Eagleton
and public intellectual.[5][6][7][8] He is currently Distinguished Professor of English
Literature at Lancaster University.

Eagleton has published over forty books, but remains best known for Literary
Theory: An Introduction (1983), which has sold over 750,000 copies.[9] The work
elucidated the emerging literary theory of the period. He has also been a prominent
critic of postmodernism, publishing works such as The Illusions of Postmodernism

Formerly the Thomas Warton Professor of English Literature at the University of

Oxford (1992–2001) and John Edward Taylor Professor of Cultural Theory at the
University of Manchester (2001–2008), Eagleton has held visiting appointments at
universities around the world including Cornell, Duke, Iowa, Melbourne, Trinity
College in Dublin, and Yale.[10]

Eagleton delivered Yale University's 2008 Terry Lectures and the University of
Edinburgh's 2010 Gifford Lecture entitled The God Debate.[11] He gave the 2010
Richard Price Memorial Lecture at Newington Green Unitarian Church, speaking on Eagleton holding one of his books
"The New Atheism and the War on Terror".[12] In 2009, he published a book which after a talk at the Mechanics'
accompanied his lectures on religion, entitled Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Institute, Manchester, in 2008
Reflections on the God Debate. Born Terence Francis
22 February 1943[1]
Salford, England[1]
Alma mater Trinity College,
Early life
Education and academia
Jesus College,
Literary Theory and After Theory
Dawkins, Hitchens and the New Atheism Notable work Literary Theory: An
Terry and Gifford Lectures Introduction (1983)
Football The Ideology of the
Criticism of Martin and Kingsley Amis Aesthetic (1990)
Critical reactions The Illusions of
Family Postmodernism
Publications (1996)

References Era Contemporary

Further reading philosophy
External links Region Western philosophy
School Continental
Early life
Institutions Wadham College,
Eagleton was born on 22 February 1943[1] to Francis Paul Eagleton and his wife, Linacre College,
Rosaleen (née Riley).[13] He grew up in a working-class Irish Catholic family in Oxford
Salford, with roots in County Galway. His mother's side of the family had strong St Catherine's
Irish republican sympathies. He served as an altar boy at a local Carmelite convent College, Oxford
where he was responsible for escorting novice nuns taking their vows, a role referred
University of
to in the title of his memoirThe Gatekeeper.[14]
Lancaster University
Education and academia
Academic Raymond Williams
He was educated at De La Salle College, a Roman Catholic grammar school in advisors
Pendleton, Salford.[3] In 1961 he went to read English at Trinity College,
Notable Good/Bad
Cambridge, whence he graduated with first-class honours.[4] He later described his ideas utopianism[2]
undergraduate experience as a "waste of time".[3] In 1964, he moved to Jesus
College, Cambridge, where as a junior research fellow and doctoral student, he
became the youngest fellow at the college since the 18th century.[10] He was
supervised by Raymond Williams.[4] It was during this period that his leftist convictions began to take hold, and he edited a radical
Catholic leftist periodical calledSlant.[4]

In 1969 he moved to theUniversity of Oxford where he became a fellow and tutor ofWadham College (1969–1989), Linacre College
(1989–1993) and St Catherine's College, becoming Thomas Warton Professor of English in 1992. At Wadham, Eagleton ran a well-
known seminar on Marxist literary theory which, in the 1980s, metamorphosed into the radical pressure group Oxford English
Limited and its journal News from Nowhere: Journal of the Oxford English Faculty Opposition, to which he contributed several
pieces. In 2001 Eagleton left Oxford to occupy theJohn Edward Taylor chair of Cultural Theory at the University of Manchester.

He began his literary studies with the 19th and 20th centuries, then conformed to the stringent academic Marxism of the 1970s. He
then published an attack on his mentor Williams's relation to the Marxist tradition in the pages of th
e New Left Review, in the mode of
the French critic Louis Althusser. In the 1960s, he became involved with the left-wing Catholic group Slant, authoring a number of
theological articles (including A Marxist Interpretation of Benediction), as well as a book Towards a New Left Theology. A major
turning point was his Criticism & Ideology (1976) in which Eagleton discusses various theorists and critics from F. R. Leavis and (his
tutor) Raymond Williams to Pierre Macherey. This earliest response to Theory is critical and substantive with Eagleton supplying a
dense web of categories for "a materialist criticism" which situates the author as well as the text in the general mode of production,
the literary mode of production and particular ideologies. In chapter 4 he gives a thorough overview of one theme in the English
context – "organicist concepts of society" or "community" – as worked by petty-bourgeois Victorian writers, from George Eliot to
D. H.Lawrence, and how this determines textual form in each instance.

Literary Theory and After Theory

In Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983, revised 1996), Eagleton surveys the history of theoretical approaches to literature, from its
beginnings with Matthew Arnold, through formalism, psychoanalysis, and structuralism, to post-structuralism. In the process, he
demonstrates what is the thesis of the book: that theory is necessarily political. Theory is always presented as if it is unstained by
point of view and is neutral, but in fact it is impossible to avoid having a political perspective. Peter Barry has said of the book that it
"greatly contributed to the 'consolidation' of literary theory and helped to establish it firmly on the undergraduate curriculum".[15]
Eagleton's approach to literary criticism is one firmly rooted in the Marxist tradition, though he has also incorporated techniques and
ideas from more recent modes of thought as structuralism, Lacanian analysis and deconstruction. As his memoir The Gatekeeper
recounts, Eagleton's Marxism has never been solely an academic pursuit. He was active in the International Socialists (along with
Christopher Hitchens) and then the Workers' Socialist League whilst in Oxford. He has been a regular contributor to the London
Review of Books.[16]
After Theory (2003) was written two decades later, after the end of the great period of High Theory – the cultural theory of Foucault,
the postmodernists, Derrida, et al. Looking back, Eagleton evaluates its achievements and failures, and proposes new directions
needing to be pursued. He considers that among the great achievements of Theory were the expansion of objects of study (to include
gender, sexuality, popular culture, post-colonialism, etc.), and the wide-ranging self-reflective criticism of traditional assumptions.
But in Eagleton's estimation there were also many serious mistakes, for instance: the assault on the normative and the insistence on
the relativity of truth leaves us powerless to criticize oppression; the rejection of objectivity and (excessively) of all forms of
essentialism bespeak an unrecognized idealism, or at least a blindness to our human materiality, ultimately born of an unconscious
fear of death; and cultural studies has wrongly avoided consideration of ethics, which for Eagleton is inextricably tied to a proper
politics. It is virtue and politics and how they may be realized, among other things, that Eagleton offers as new avenues needing to be
explored by cultural studies. And that is the link to his previous work, Literary Theory, which proposed that all theory is ultimately
political. After Theory fleshes out this political aspect, tied to ethics, growing out of the fact that humans exist in neediness and
dependency on others, their freedom bounded by the common fact of death.

Dawkins, Hitchens and the New Atheism

Eagleton has become a vocal critic of what has been called the New Atheism. In October 2006, he published a review of Richard
Dawkins's The God Delusion in the London Review of Books. Eagleton begins by questioning Dawkins's methodology and
understanding: "Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the
Book of British Birds, and you
have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology". Eagleton further writes, "Nor does [Dawkins]
understand that because God is transcendent of us (which is another way of saying that he did not have to bring us about), he is free
of any neurotic need for us and wants simply to be allowed to love us."[17] He concludes by suggesting Dawkins has not been
attacking organised faith so much as a sort of rhetorical straw man: "Apart from the occasional perfunctory gesture to 'sophisticated'
religious believers, Dawkins tends to see religion and fundamentalist religion as one and the same. This is not only grotesquely false;
it is also a device to outflank any more reflective kind of faith by implying that it belongs to the coterie and not to the mass. The huge
numbers of believers who hold something like the theology I outlined above can thus be conveniently lumped with rednecks who
murder abortionists and malign homosexuals."[18]

Terry and Gifford Lectures

In April 2008 Eagleton delivered Yale University's Terry Lectures, with the title Faith and Fundamentalism: Is belief in Richard
Dawkins necessary for salvation?, constituting a continuation of the critique he had begun in The London Review of Books.
Introducing his first lecture with an admission of ignorance of both theology and science, Eagleton goes on to affirm: "All I can claim
in this respect, alas, is that I think I may know just about enough theology to be able to spot when someone like Richard Dawkins or
Christopher Hitchens – a couplet I shall henceforth reduce for convenience to the solitary signifier Ditchkins – is talking out of the
back of his neck."[19][20] An expanded version of these lectures was published in 2009 as Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections
on the God Debate.[21]

Eagleton sees football as a new opium of the people distracting ordinary people from more serious, important social concerns.
Eagleton is pessimistic as to whether this distraction can be ended:

For the most part football these days is the opium of the people, not to speak of their crack cocaine. Its icon is the
impeccably Tory, slavishly conformist Beckham. The Reds are no longer the Bolsheviks. Nobody serious about
political change can shirk the fact that the game has to be abolished. And any political outfit that tried it on would
have about as much chance of power as the chief executive ofBP has in taking over fromOprah Winfrey.[22]

Criticism of Martin and Kingsley Amis

In late 2007, a critique of Martin Amis included in the introduction to a 2007 edition
of Eagleton's book Ideology was widely reprinted in the British press. In it, Eagleton
took issue with Amis' widely quoted writings on "Islamism", directing particular
attention to one specific passage from an interview withGinny Dougary published in
the Times on 9 September 2006.

What can we do to raise the price of them doing this? There's a

definite urge – don't you have it? – to say, 'The Muslim community
will have to suffer until it gets its house in order.' What sort of
Eagleton in 2012
suffering? Not letting them travel. Deportation – further down the
road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like
they're from the Middle East or from Pakistan ... Discriminatory
stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough
with their children ... It's a huge dereliction on their part.

Eagleton criticised Amis and expressed surprise as to its source, stating: "[these are] not the ramblings of a British National Party
thug ... but the reflections of Martin Amis, leading luminary of the English metropolitan literary world." He drew a connection
between Amis and his father (the novelist Kingsley Amis). Eagleton went on to write that Martin Amis had learned more from his
father – whom Eagleton described as a reactionary "racist, anti-Semitic boor, a drink-sodden, self-hating reviler of women, gays and
liberals" – than merely "how to turn a shapely phrase." Eagleton added there was "something rather stomach-churning at the sight of
those such as Amis and his political allies, champions of a civilisation that for centuries has wreaked untold carnage throughout the
world, shrieking for illegal measures when they find themselves for the first time on the sticky end of the same treatment."

The essay became a cause célèbre in British literary circles. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a commentator for The Independent, wrote an
article[25] about the affair, to which Amis responded via open letter, calling Eagleton "an ideological relict ... unable to get out of bed
in the morning without the dual guidance of God and Karl Marx."[26] Amis said the views Eagleton attributed to him as his
considered opinion was in fact his spoken description of a tempting urge, in relation to the need to "raise the price" of terrorist
actions. Eagleton's personal comments on Kingsley Amis prompted a further response from Kingsley's widow, the novelist Elizabeth
Jane Howard. Howard wrote to the Daily Telegraph, noting that for a supposed "anti-semitic homophobe", it was peculiar that the
only guests at the Howard-Amis nuptials were either Jewish or gay.[27] As Howard explained, "Kingsley was never a racist, nor an
anti-Semitic boor. Our four great friends who witnessed our wedding were three Jews and one homosexual." In a later interview,
Howard added: "I have never even heard of this man Eagleton. But he seems to be a rather lethal combination of a Roman Catholic
and a Marxist ... He strikes me as like a spitting cobra: if you get within his range he'll unleash some poison."[28] Colin Howard,
Howard's homosexual brother, called Eagleton "a little squirt", adding that Sir Kingsley, far from being homophobic, had extended an
affectionate friendship to him and helped him come to terms with his sexuality.[27]

Eagleton defended his comments about Martin and Kingsley Amis in The Guardian, claiming the main bone of contention – the
substance of Amis' remarks and views – had been lost amid the media furore.

Critical reactions
William Deresiewicz wrote of After Theory, Eagleton's book, as follows... :

[I]s it that hard to explain what Eagleton's up to? The prolificness, the self-plagiarism, the snappy, highly consumable
prose and, of course, the sales figures: Eagleton wishes for capitalism's demise, but as long as it's here, he plans to do
as well as he can out of it. Someone who owns three homes shouldn't be preaching self-sacrifice, and someone whose
careerism at Oxbridge was legendary shouldn't be telling interviewers of his longstanding regret at having turned
down a job at the Open University.[29]
The novelist and criticDavid Lodge, writing in the May 2004New York Review of Books on Theory and After Theory, concluded:

Some of Theory's achievements are genuine and permanent additions to knowledge, or intellectual self-knowledge.
Eagleton is quite right to assert that we can never go back to a state of pre-Theory innocence about the transparency
of language or the ideological neutrality of interpretation ... But like all fashions it was bound to have a limited life of
novelty and vitality, and we are now living through its decadence without any clear indication of what will supersede
it. Theory has, in short, become boringly predictable to many people who were once enthusiastic about it, and that
After Theory is most interesting when its focus is furthest from its nominal subject is perhaps evidence that Terry
Eagleton is now bored by it too.[30]

Eagleton was married to the American academic Willa Murphy, with whom he has three children. They have since divorced.
Eagleton has two other sons by his first marriage, which ended in 1976 after ten years.

The New Left Church [as Terence Eagleton] (1966)
Shakespeare and Society: Critical Studies in Shakespearean Drama(1967)
Exiles and Émigrés: Studies in Modern Literature(1970)
The Body as Language: Outline of a New Left Theology(1970)
Myths of Power: A Marxist Study of the Brontës(1975)
Criticism & Ideology (1976)
Marxism and Literary Criticism(1976)
Walter Benjamin, or Towards a Revolutionary Criticism(1981)
The Rape of Clarissa: Writing, Sexuality, and Class Struggle in Samuel Richardson(1982)
Literary Theory: An Introduction(1983)
The Function of Criticism(1984)
Saints and Scholars (1987; a novel)
Raymond Williams: Critical Perspectives(1989; editor)
Saint Oscar (1989; a play about Oscar Wilde)
The Significance of Theory(1989)
The Ideology of the Aesthetic(1990)
Nationalism, Colonialism, and Literature(1990)
Ideology: An Introduction(1991/2007)
Wittgenstein: The Terry Eagleton Script, TheDerek Jarman Film (1993)
Literary Theory (1996)
The Illusions of Postmodernism(1996)
Heathcliff and the Great Hunger(1996)
Marx (1997)
Crazy John and the Bishop and Other Essays on Irish Culture(1998)
The Idea of Culture (2000)
The Truth about the Irish (2001)
The Gatekeeper: A Memoir(2002)
Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic (2002)
After Theory (2003)
Figures of Dissent: Reviewing Fish, Spivak, Zizek and Others(2003)
The English Novel: An Introduction(2005)
Holy Terror (2005)
The Meaning of Life (2007)
How to Read a Poem (2007)
Trouble with Strangers: A Study of Ethics(2008)
Literary Theory, Anniversary Edition (2008)
Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate(2009)
The Task of the Critic: Terry Eagleton in Dialoguewith Matthew Beaumont (2009)
On Evil (2010)
Why Marx Was Right (2011)
The Event of Literature(2012)
Across the Pond: An Englishman's View of America (2013)
How to Read Literature(2013)
Culture and the Death of God(2014)
Hope without Optimism(2015)
Culture (2016)
Materialism (2017)
Radical Sacrifice (2018)
Humour (2019)

1. Prof Terry Eagleton profile, Debrett’s People of Today, FBA Profile (http://www.debretts.com/people/biographies/brow
se/e/25737/Terry+EAGLETON.aspx) Archived (https://web.archive.org/web/20130724030211/http://www .debretts.co
m/people/biographies/browse/e/25737/T erry+EAGLETON.aspx) 24 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine
2. Terry Eagleton (1991). Ideology: An Introduction. p. 131.
3. James Smith (2013). Terry Eagleton (https://books.google.com/books?id=kYD1ZfZ4uAcC&pg=PT13)
. Wiley.
ISBN 978-0-7456-5795-0.
4. James Smith (2013). Terry Eagleton (https://books.google.com/books?id=kYD1ZfZ4uAcC&pg=PT13)
. John Wiley &
Sons. ISBN 978-0-7456-5795-0.
5. Vallely, Paul (13 October 2007)."Terry Eagleton: Class warrior"(https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profile
s/terry-eagleton-class-warrior-396770.html). The Independent. "...the man who succeeded F R Leavis as Britain's
most influential academic critic."
6. John Sitter, Chairman of the English Department at the University of Notre Dameand Editor of The Cambridge
Companion to Eighteenth Century Poetry, has describes Eagleton as "someone widely regarded as the most
influential contemporary literary critic and theorist in the English-speaking world"
"Archived copy" (https://web.archiv
d-visitor-in-english-department/). Archived from the original (http://al.nd.edu/about-arts-and-letters/news/terry-eagleto
n-returns-to-nd-as-distinguished-visitor-in-english-department)on 31 August 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
7. "Eagleton himself has also replaced Leavis as the best known and most influential academic critic in Britain." Duke
Maskell, as cited by Nicholas Wroe [1] (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/feb/02/academicexperts.higheredu
8. "Terry Eagleton is arguably the most influential contemporary British literary critic and theorist." James Smith.Cited
in the Introduction to Terry Eagleton: A Critical Introduction (Key Contemporary Thinkers)Polity Press, 2008.
9. "A theoretical blow for democracy"(http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/a-theoretical-blow-for-democracy/1
60508.article). 31 May 2001. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
10. University, Lancaster. "Terry Eagleton - English & Creative Writing - Lancaster University - Lancaster University"(htt
p://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/english/profiles/Terry-Eagleton/). Retrieved 29 June 2016.
11. "Professor Terry Eagleton" (https://web.archive.org/web/20110721213732/http://www .hss.ed.ac.uk/giffordexemp/Prof
essorTerryEagleton.htm). College of Humanities & Social Science. University of Edinburgh. Archived from the
original (http://www.hss.ed.ac.uk/giffordexemp/ProfessorTerryEagleton.htm) on 21 July 2011.
12. "Terry Eagleton to speak at Newington Green" (http://www.hackneycitizen.co.uk/2010/08/29/terry-eagleton-to-speak-
at-newington-green). Hackney Citizen. 29 August 2010. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
13. "EAGLETON, Prof. Terence Francis" at Who's Who 2012, A & C Black, 2012; online edn, Oxford University Press,
December 2011; online edn November 2011; accessed 23 September 2012 (http://www.ukwhoswho.com/view/articl
14. Andrews, Kernan (18 December 2008)."Terry Eagleton – taking on the capitalists and atheists in Galway" (http://ww
w.advertiser.ie/galway/article/6353). Galway Advertiser.
15. Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory
. Manchester University Press, 2009,
p. 273.
16. LRB archive (https://www.lrb.co.uk/contributors/terry-eagleton). But only six contributions from 2014 to 2017
17. Eagleton, Terry (19 October 2006)."Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching"(http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/eagl01_.html).
London Review of Books. 28 (20). Retrieved 26 November 2006.
18. Eagleton, Terry (19 October 2006)."Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching"(http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n20/terry-eagleton/lung
ing-flailing-mispunching). London Review of Books. 28 (20). Retrieved 1 September 2013.
19. Terry Eagleton (lecturer) (1 April 2008).Christianity Fair and Foul(https://web.archive.org/web/20090806031121/htt
p://www.yale.edu/terrylecture/eagleton.html)(Podcast). Yale University. Event occurs at 6:23. Archived fromthe
original (http://www.yale.edu/terrylecture/eagleton.html) (rm) on 6 August 2009. Retrieved 4 August 2009.
20. Eagleton, Terry (April 2008). "Faith and Fundamentalism: Is Belief in Richard Dawkins Necessary for Salvation?" (htt
ps://web.archive.org/web/20090806031121/http://www .yale.edu/terrylecture/eagleton.html). Dwight H. Terry
Lectureship. Yale University. Archived from the original (http://www.yale.edu/terrylecture/eagleton.html) on 6 August
21. Eagleton, Terry (2009). Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate
. New Haven/London: Yale
University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-15179-4.
22. Eagleton, Terry (15 June 2010). "Football: a dear friend to capitalism - T
erry Eagleton" (https://www.theguardian.com/
commentisfree/2010/jun/15/football-socialism-crack-cocaine-people) . Retrieved 29 June 2016.
23. "The voice of experience"(http://www.ginnydougary.co.uk/the-voice-of-experience/). Retrieved 10 November 2018.
24. Eagleton, Terry (10 October 2007)."Rebuking obnoxious views is not just a personality kink"(https://www.theguardia
n.com/commentisfree/2007/oct/10/comment.religion). The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
25. Alibhai-Brown, Yasmin (8 October 2007)."It's time for civilised and honest engagement"(https://www.independent.c
394480.html). The Independent. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
26. Brown, Jonathan (12 October 2007)."Amis launches scathing response to accusations of Islamophobia"(https://ww
0.html). The Independent. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
27. Cockcroft, Lucy (10 October 2007)."Family defends 'racist' Sir Kingsley Amis"(https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uk
news/1565696/Family-defends-racist-Sir-Kingsley-Amis.html) . The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
28. Levy, Geoffrey (11 October 2007)."Spicier than a novel, the literary feud raging between the Amis dynasty and the
Marxist critic" (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-486941/Spicier-novel-literary-feud-raging-Amis-dynasty-Marxis
t-critic.html). Mail Online.
29. Deresiewicz, William (29 January 2004)."The Business of Theory"(https://www.thenation.com/article/business-theor
y/). The Nation. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
30. Lodge, David (27 May 2004)."Goodbye to All That" (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2004/may/27/goodby
e-to-all-that/) (fee required). The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 1 July 2008.

Further reading
James Smith, "Terry Eagleton", Polity, 2008.

External links
Why Marx Was Right – In his book "Why Marx was Right", Eagleton makes the case forMarx's resurrection,
challenging objections and explaining why his thought remains as relevant as ever .
"High Priest of Lit Crit", The Guardian, 2 February 2002 – profile on the publication of Eagleton's memoir
, The
Some articles by Eagleton, London Review of Bookswebsite
Article on socialism at redpepper.org.uk
"The roots of terror" at redpepper.org.uk
Shakespeare and the class struggleextract from Eagleton's 1979 playBrecht and Company.
Terry Eagleton at British Council: Literature
Tim Adams, "The Armchair Revolutionary" (interview), The Observer, 16 December 2007
Dawkins/Eagleton knolby Klaus Rohde (Permanent dead link)
Jonathan Derbyshire, "The Task of the Critic: Terry Eagleton in Dialogue", New Statesman, 11 March 2010
Terry Eagleton, "In Praise of Marx" (article), The Chronicle Review, 10 April 2011
"An Interview with Terry Eagleton (Oxonian Review)", with Alex Barker andAlex Niven
Terry Eagleton and Marxist Literary Criticismby Ian Birchall (1982)

Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=T


This page was last edited on 9 May 2019, at 20:44(UTC).

Text is available under theCreative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License ; additional terms may apply. By using this
site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of theWikimedia
Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.