Thanks to the success of a certain book, it would be difficult to utter the words ‘literary theory’ without bringing Terry Eagleton’s name to mind. That book — for some time now a bestseller — remains the one with which Eagleton has most frequently been linked. Its publication was nothing short of an event in the history of English Studies, so much so that there is a kind of inevitability about opening this account by referring to it. Yet the success of Literary Theory in many ways served to obscure Eagleton’s achievements up to that point and has over shadowed subsequent work. First published in 1983, it was preceded by no fewer than nine other books, ranging from theological speculation on the significance of the body, to critical accounts of Shakespeare, modernism, the Brontës and Samuel Richardson, to (to my mind) the most rigorous theory of literary production to date and (already) a renunciation of that method in favour of a more eclectic, yet polemical, critical style. Since then, Eagleton has not only produced further critical accounts of literary and cultural theory, of both its history and recent developments, but has also written major works on the category of the aesthetic and the concept of tragedy, and has made telling interventions in the field of Irish Studies. This remarkable range and productivity has established him with little doubt as the foremost Marxist critic of recent times.
KeywordsLiterary Theory Irish Study Critical Account Theoretical Elaboration Epochal Difference
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