How to Read Literature Quotes

Rate this book
Clear rating
How to Read Literature How to Read Literature by Terry Eagleton
1,542 ratings, 3.66 average rating, 264 reviews
Open Preview
How to Read Literature Quotes Showing 1-30 of 39
“If we are inspired only by literature that reflects our own interests, all reading becomes a form of narcissism.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“The most common mistake students of literature make is to go straight for what the poem or novel says, setting aside the way that it says it. To read like this is to set aside the ‘literariness’ of the work – the fact that it is a poem or play or novel, rather than an account of the incidence of soil erosion in Nebraska.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“We like to think of individuals as unique. Yet if this is true of everyone, then we all share the same quality, namely our uniqueness. What we have in common is the fact that we are all uncommon. Everybody is special, which means that nobody is. The truth, however, is that human beings are uncommon only up to a point. There are no qualities that are peculiar to one person alone. Regrettably, there could not be a world in which only one individual was irascible, vindictive or lethally aggressive. This is because human beings are not fundamentally all that different from each other, a truth postmodernists are reluctant to concede. We share an enormous amount in common simply by virtue of being human, and this is revealed by the vocabularies we have for discussing human character. We even share the social processes by which we come to individuate ourselves.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“We live in a world in which there is nothing that cannot be narrated, but nothing that needs to be either.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“Scratch a schoolboy and you find a savage.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“It is always reassuring to discover that great writers are as fallible as oneself. W.B. Yeats once failed to obtain an academic post in Dublin because he misspelt the word ‘professor’ on his application.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“Enjoyment is more subjective than evaluation. Whether you prefer peaches to pears is a question of taste, which is not quite true of whether you think Dostoevsky a more accomplished novelist than John Grisham. Dostoevsky is better than Grisham in the sense that Tiger Woods is a better golfer than Lady Gaga.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“The theatre can teach us some truth, but it is the truth of the illusory nature of our existence. It can alert us to the dream-like quality of our lives, their brevity, mutability and lack of solid grounds. As such, by reminding us of our mortality, it can foster in us the virtue of humility.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“It is said that an eighteenth-century bishop who read Jonathan Swift’s novel Gulliver’s Travels threw the book into the fire, indignantly declaring that he didn’t believe a word of it. He obviously thought that the story was meant to be true, but suspected that it was invented. Which, of course, is just what it is. The bishop was dismissing the fiction because he thought it was fiction.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“That one can understand The Waste Land without even trying is consoling news for all students of literature.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“The artistic is thus very close to the ethical. If only we could grasp the world from someone else’s standpoint, we would have a fuller sense of how and why they act as they do. We would thus be less inclined to reproach them from some loftily external point of view. To understand is to forgive.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“The fascinating is only a step away from the freakish.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“To be outside any situation whatsoever is known as being dead.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“Literary works are pieces of rhetoric as well as reports. They demand a peculiarly vigilant kind of reading, one which is alert to tone, mood, pace, genre, syntax, grammar, texture, rhythm, narrative structure, punctuation, ambiguity – in fact to everything that comes under the heading of ‘form’.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“إن الأعمال الأدبية قطع بلاغية وتقارير أيضا، وتتطلب نمطا من القراءة على درجة بالغة من اليقظة؛ نمطا متنبها للنبرة والحالة المزاجية والسلاسة والجنس والنحو والتراكيب والنسيج والإيقاع وبنية السرد وعلامات التنقيط والإبهام، بل لكل ما ينطوى عليه موضوع الشكل.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“Interestingly, this speech by Prospero does not contrast the unreality of the stage with the solid, flesh-and-blood existence of real men and women. On the contrary, it seizes on the flimsiness of dramatic characters as a metaphor for the fleeting, fantasy-ridden quality of actual human lives. It is we who are made of dreams, not just such figments of Shakespeare’s imagination as Ariel and Caliban. The cloud-capped towers and gorgeous palaces of this earth are mere stage scenery after all.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“Baa Baa Black Sheep’ makes Marx’s Capital look like Mary Poppins.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“I hope to show in the process that critical analysis can be fun, and in doing so help to demolish the myth that analysis is the enemy of enjoyment.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“Literary works quite often ‘know’ things that the reader does not know, or does not know yet, or perhaps will never know.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“Literary figures have no pre-history. It is said that a theatre director who was staging one of Harold Pinter's plays asked the playwright for some hints as to what his characters were up to before they came on stage. Pinter's reply was ‘Mind your own fucking business.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“Characters may lend the action a certain colouring, but it is what happens that comes first. To overlook this while watching a tragedy would be like treating a football game simply as the acts of a set of solitary individuals, or as chance for each of them to display 'personality'. The fact that some players behave as though this is precisely what football games are about should not distract us from this point.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“الخبث أكثر فتنة وإغواء مما هو جدير بالاحترام”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“One of the striking aspects of the lines is the way they make us see a tree, with its pattern of twigs, leaves and branches, as a visual image of the invisible roots of language.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“المؤكد دوما أن كبار الأدباء يقترفون الأغلاط كأى شخص آخر، فقد أخفق دبليو. بى. بيتس ذات مرة فى الحصول على وظيفة أكاديمية فى مدينة دبلن لأنه أخطأ فى هجاء كلمة professor فى استمارة الطلب.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“Middle paths in tragedy are in notably short supply.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“When the Dublin-born Beckett was asked by a Parisian journalist whether he was English, he replied, ‘On the contrary.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“Morality has precious little to do with feeling in any case. The fact that you feel a surge of nausea at the sight of someone with half their head shot away is neither here nor there as long as you try to help them.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“We do not know whether Melville's work is of universal interest because we have not reached the end of history yet, despite the best efforts of some of our political leaders.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“the artist can never quite get on terms with God, who as far as creation goes has got there first and pulled off a product hard to beat.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature
“Poetry is concerned not just with the meaning of experience, but with the experience of meaning.”
Terry Eagleton, How to Read Literature

« previous 1