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a good introduction, but with qualifications
on 24 March 1998
A blurb on the back cover of my copy of this book states that it is an excellent way to introduce the reader to the main trends in literary theory "in one day." I think that description is justified: the theories are covered in a lucid, readable style. It is also pointed out that Eagleton does not attempt an unbiased approach in this book. This, also, is true, and is not objectionable, until the last twenty pages or so. In these latter pages, Eagleton states he is not going to promulgate his own Marxist views on literature; but a careful examination of his end matter will reveal that he is arguing dialectically and materialistically, and dialectical materialism is, after all, Marxist. Eagleton has thus, to an extent, been intellectually dishonest with his reader. The only other major flaw is that he spends too little time on feminist literature. However, in terms of a good, general work on literary theory's essentials, this book is still quite adequate, and is refreshingly free of the English scholar's claustrophobic jargon which mars so much criticism these days.