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The Event of Literature Hardcover – May 29, 2012

4 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"In wry, thrifty prose, [Eagleton] surveys a range of theoretical positions in order to ponder a larger question about 'whether there really are such things as common natures in the world.' . . . A fascinating and often compelling expansion of Eagleton's oeuvre."—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

"The Event of Literature provides an engaging overview of the key questions regarding the nature of literature and of the various answers provided by literary theory."—Liana Giorgi, New York Journal of Books (Liana Giorgi New York Journal of Books)

Book Description

An influential literary critic explores anew the discipline to which he has devoted his career, reconsidering previous stances while offering fresh takes on much-studied books and literary theories. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (May 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300178816
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300178814
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,082,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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By Jose on September 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very good
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was bamboozled into purchasing this book by a favorable Library Journal review, which said (I paraphrase) that Terry Eagleton in The Event of Literature makes difficult concepts in literary theory easy to understand. It's not that he doesn't try, but the material is too refractory: for me he failed more often than he succeeded. So I offer faint praise to admit that I probably got more out of Eagleton than I would have by going directly to the legion of critics he quotes ad nauseum (Stanley Fish, Jacques Derrida, Peter Lamarque, John Searle, and many others). Why he DOESN'T quote his great Oxbridge predecessor C.S. Lewis, a REAL literary critic, is quite beyond me, unless it is considered somehow shameful for a Marxist like Eagleton to do so. The one point all these more recent hacks seems to agree on -- that literature is what we as readers DECIDE TO TREAT AND READ AS LITERATURE -- was made FAR MORE CLEARLY and compellingly in Lewis' wonderful An Experiment In Criticism (1960). Read THAT if you never buy this or any other work of literary criticism.

As my title indicates, Eagleton frequently argues with the critics he quotes, pointing out their absurdities, omissions, contradictions, etc., which is certainly a valuable work. That includes the YOUNGER Terry Eagleton: while he still thinks literature has no "essence," he has come to believe that literary writing has some or all of these five characteristics -- it is fictional; it has moral content; it uses figurative language; it is not practical; and it is highly valued as writing.

Also insightful (to me) was his contention that what an author means as fiction may be read as true, and vice versa. It warmed my heart on page 110 to read that Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes can be read (primarily IS READ now) as FICTION. I ALWAYS thought it was! I NEVER believed actual people could live in conditions that degrading, sordid and abusive.
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