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The Gatekeeper: A Memoir [Paperback]

Terry Eagleton
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Jan 2003
This memoir blends autobiography with moral, political and cultural reflections. Thoughts about god, evil, suffering, death and tragedy are interwoven with comic or moving scenes from Eagleton's life: his bizarre experiences as a young altar server in a convent of enclosed nuns; his precarious career in 1960s Cambridge as one of the few working-class students among a set of public school boys; and his abortive experience of life in a seminary. Eagleton was brought up in Salford in a working-class Catholic family and is now Thomas Warton Professor of English at the University of Oxford. His book discloses the more personal, spiritual side of a well-known cultural thinker; mixing the serious with the hilarious, life with ideas, the personal with the political.


Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (30 Jan 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141005920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141005928
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 513,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Acclaimed literary scholar and cultural theorist Terry Eagleton is Professor of Cultural Theory at the National University of Ireland, Galway, Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of English Literature at Notre Dame.

Terry Eagleton is the author of many books including The Idea of Culture (2000), Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic (2002), the bestselling text Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983, 1996, 2008), Trouble with Strangers: A Study of Ethics (2009), and the forthcoming On Evil (2010).

Product Description

Amazon Review

Claiming to come from a family of performers rather than achievers, Terry Eagleton’s outstanding debut memoir, The Gatekeeper, sees him succeed on both scores as he preaches with characteristic, gleeful irreverence from the back pew. Opening with a 10-year-old Eagleton as altar server at a convent chapel in Salford, holding the door for parents leaving their novice daughters forever to God, the narrative closes with delicate resonance on the news of his father’s death while awaiting an interview at Cambridge University. Crammed in between is a glut of typically arch observations on an eclectic variety of subjects by a man once described by Prince Charles as "that dreadful Terry Eagleton". Grandson of Irish-Catholic immigrants to Salford, both his ethnic origin and religious background inform much of his early life, though he comes into his own, inevitably, when he joins the braying classes at Cambridge. The brattish dons who outraged him are named and shamed with delicious frankness, as is the archetypal young fogey with his "outsized cranium and shrivelled heart". The bile is invariably mollified with self-deprecating admissions, such as of his own misguidedly altruistic stint as the Kim Philby of Cambridge Meals on Wheels, as well as eloquent analyses of the figures who helped form his beliefs and passions: men like his supervisor, Dr Greenway, who came to fulfil something of a paternal role for him, Wittgenstein, Brecht, and most intriguingly Wilde, to whom Eagleton has returned constantly in his writings.

A Wildean Marxist, perhaps, but the artist formerly known to the Prince remains also a witty and provocative thinker, unafraid to scale the ivory towers and Ivy League, yet unstinting with enthusiastic praise when due. Always the most earthily intellectual of his radical generation when discussing literature and culture, in writing of Catholics and revolutionaries, convents and colleges, he reaffirms his status as one of Britain’s finest writers, the gatekeeper who became a master literary poacher.--David Vincent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Leading literary theorist and critic. His CRITICAL THEORY has sold 3/4 million copies throughout the world; THE TRUTH ABOUT THE IRISH was a bestseller in Ireland in 1999. Described by Prince Charles as "that dreadful Terry Eagleton".

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot lighter than Literary Theory! 10 Jan 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I came to this book not sure what to expect - I'll readily confess that although I find Eagleton a superb lecturer with a great speaking voice I don't always understand what he's saying. It was a relief therefore to find that this book is economically written, with a loosely biographical content. It's less a biography than a series of anecdotes linked by the author's own philosophising and thoughts on the subjects which arise. It is laugh out loud funny in places, though there is certainly a degree of pathos in some of the episodes he relates. One word of warning - if you're a firm believer in Catholicism this book might not be for you: Eagleton, as a lapsed Catholic pokes fun at the more faintly ridulculous aspects of the religion, particularly the order of Carmelite nuns he served with as an altar boy. This should not put anyone of from reading this, though - it's a nicely related memoir, and will probably be the most readable thing for most people that Eagleton has written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! 19 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Witty, insightful, moving and very, very funny - an utterly marvellous memoir. As someone interested in Mr Eagleton's more theoretical ventures as well, I also appreciated how he occasionally makes segues from vignettes of his life into discussions on literary theory, politics, religion, academia; all in his inimitably accessible and lucid style. It's worth buying alone for the absolutely hilarious anecdotes about his brushes with the Oxford and Cambridge aristocracy...
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