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Figures of Dissent: Reviewing Fish, Spivak, Zizek and Others Paperback – November 17, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (November 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859843883
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859843888
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,389,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The review-essay is a form requiring journalistic concision, rigorous analytical thinking and sympathetic reading of another's texts. Eagleton, most famous in the U.S. for his oft-assigned Literary Theory: An Introduction and most recently the author of Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic, is also a prolific practitioner of the review-essay, publishing his thoughtful, politically charged and lucidly polemical summations most often in the London Review of Books. This book collects more than 40 such pieces, on the contemporary writers and thinkers of the subtitle, but also reaching back to Yeats, Wilde, Eliot and even Branwell Brönte, and across to more peers like Stuart Hall, Colin McCabe and Jonathan Dollimore. As Eagleton puts it when writing about political theorist Norberto Bobbio, "the political left has always had trouble with ethics, in theory as well as in practice." In Eagleton, readers on the left and the right have a passionate and subtle thinker providing a provisional path through the ethical woods.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Eagleton has confirmed his standing as second to none among cultural critics writing in the English language today.”—Guardian

“Eagleton’s ... wit, his earthy hard-headedness, and razor-sharp style often had me in stitches ... and how many theorists can make you bust a gut pondering the arcane terms of poststructuralism?”—Newsday

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Augustus Caesar, Ph.D. on December 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Terry Eagleton is perhaps the best-known academic literary critic writing in English today. Author of nearly 30 books on topics ranging from critical theory to Wittgenstein, Eagleton remains the political conscience of modern criticism and (with Fredric Jameson) the foremost Marxist theorist of our time. His deep literary and philosophical erudition and commitment to a more humane approach to looking critically at our culture have made him an important voice in academia since the mid-1960s.
In "Figures of Dissent," Eagleton turns his penetrating gaze to topics ranging from Lukacs to David Beckham, and his wit, learning, and elegant prose make this his most accessible and diverse collection of essays yet. Unlike such earlier essay collections as "Against the Grain," this book contains many of Eagleton's mainstream writings. While it includes reviews of critical theorists like Gayatri Spivak, Paul de Man, and Stuart Hall, there are also examinations of popular history, fiction, and the culture of late capitalism. Those with little interest in the abstract world of literary theory (Eagleton's academic specialty and principal interest) will find essays on other topics to entice them.
Overall, this is a fine collection from Eagleton, who remains an indispensable and passionate voice for Leftist thought in our tumultuous times.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Krul on July 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Terry Eagleton is best known as an, albeit unorthodox, Marxist writer on literary theory, so one could well expect a collection of some of his best literary reviews to be chock-full of impenetrable jargon. But looks can be deceiving: this collection, titled "Figures of Dissent", is in fact quite entertaining, even for those who have no particular training or interest in high-minded lit-crit. The title is somewhat odd, as the subjects under review have nothing in particular in common (except their works being published in English at some point), least of all some sort of status as 'dissenter'. The authors involved are on the other hand all interesting and varied, and this makes the book in fact rather a page-turner.

Most appealing about the reviews is Eagleton's unsurpassed mastery of both style and content. He pairs erudite literary insight with a sharp wit and a strongly developed sense of irony, which makes his reviews both informative as statements on literature and highly effective as polemics. Moreover, in contrast to many collections of such essays by famous theorists, the vast majority of the reviews involved can be considered to be overall 'positive', and Eagleton deftly avoids the grumpy predictability of the entrenched newspaper critic.

Admittedly, one could complain that the collection is rather unduly focused on British literature, and there are many references to literature theorists as well as writers who are not likely to ring a bell with anyone outside the Isles, but this is easily forgiven as Eagleton is the best guide to the subject one might wish for.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Lee on December 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
I spent some time this summer reading Eagleton, beginning with After Theory. This was a long time after his Literary Theory: An Introduction, which was a must-read back when I was in college. Yet, other than this one must-read, I really didn't read any of his books, which, I was surprised to find out, now total over 30 titles. Solely on the basis of Literary Theory, Eagleton didn't seem a particularly witty writer to me, so I was delighted and intrigued by his way of making light of heavy topics with humor. With this discovery on hand, if you go back to his early books, heavy-handed seriousness toward a subject was indeed rarely his way from the beginning. There are many passages in Literary Theory (or Against the Grain, and other early titles) where his deeply ironical stance toward the topics obviously of great importance to him, or at times surprisingly savage wit, makes you laugh.

Quite a few reviews in this book have hilarious one-liners or otherwise laughter-provoking comments. One of my favorite is one written for Harold Bloom and his How to Read and Why. Bloom is a "figure of dissent" in his way, who, according to Eagleton, was "once an interesting critic" when he came up with a theory of literature as an oedipal drama, and then much later, after his "critical wheel has come full circle," began distancing himself from the US academia by "preaching the unversal humanity in a New York accent." Eagleton's concluding comment, that "if there is Bloom the self-therapist, there is also Bloom the American TV evangelist, full of windy moralistic rhetoric about how to 'aprehend and recognize the possibility of the good, help it to endure, give it space in your life'," is so very correct.

Laughter aside, the book contains a lot to learn from.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SamNC on May 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Esencialmente, este libro es una colección de ensayos críticos y reseñas publicadas en varias revistas y/o medios académicos. El mismo incluye perfiles biográficos y comentarios sobre muchas de las grandes luminarias del horizonte crítico de finales del siglo XX, desde los miembros de la Escuela de Frankfurt hasta Fredrick Jameson, así como de algunas personalidades más pedestres como es el caso del futbolista británico David Beckham. El libro es, sin duda alguna, y como todos los libros del autor, riguroso al tiempo que divertido de leer. Su crítica raya a veces en lo mordaz y otras en lo apologético. Sin embargo, su prosa exquisita y su erudición hacen de la lectura un placer en cada etapa del camino.
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More About the Author

Terry Eagleton is John Edward Taylor Professor of English Literature at the University of Manchester. His numerous books include The Meaning of Life, How to Read a Poem, and After Theory.

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Figures of Dissent: Reviewing Fish, Spivak, Zizek and Others
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