Bill's Reviews > Literary Theory: An Introduction

Literary Theory by Terry Eagleton
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's review
May 17, 2007

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bookshelves: philosophy, literary-theory
Recommended for: critical theory dilletantes
Read in January, 1993

If you only read one book about literary theory...well, who would blame you? Still, the educated layperson who wants to bump their understanding of contemporary literary criticism up to a respectable cocktail party level probably can't do much better than Eagleton's slim, thoroughly accessible introduction to the subject. Literary Theory traces the history of literature as an academic discipline from English Romanticism, through Saussure and semiotics, all the way to the fashionable heavy-hitters of postmodernism. Neither an acolyte nor a debunker, Eagleton gives each theory a clear explanation and a fair shake in crisp, jargon-free prose. He is up front about his own ideological slants (feminist, Marxist), and although the last of these can at times make him sound quaintly Cold War, at no point does he drop into didacticism. This is a book that truly lives up to its subtitle.
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