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.
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“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