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Smoke and Mirrors,
This review is from: The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Those familiar with Eagleton's work will find nothing here that has not been covered in his other books, and will encounter the same articulate but often glib survey of modern thought, with a line up of the usual suspects - Heidegger, Freud, Marx etc. And once again you cannot escape the odd sensation of an intellect that ranges comfortably across the cultural terrain of contmporary thinking without really offering something original and incisive that engages in a truely productive or creative way with any of the ideas discussed. There is always the nagging suspicion that the author has gleaned his knowledge of these various titans of modern thought from other sources and has somehow managed to avoid the actual tedious business of reading these great bores.
And this seems to me Eagleton's great talent - the lucid reduction or distillation of obscure and impenetrable verbage into entertaining and readable prose.
Perhaps the short commings are due to the nature of the work - a brief survey rather than an a unique contribution to the subject - whatever the subject might be. But isn't this yet another 'survey' from Eagleton, which as readable and entertaining as it is, does not offer anything that has not been covered in his other works.
It is true of course that there is no answer to 'the meaning of life' but this is not the point, no one would seriously expect an answer, but what they might expect is something less glib and knowing, that avoids the self satisfied tone that reduces everything to a nudge nudge, wink wink, we know better leftist sneer. Of course Eagleton's Marxism is less evident than it once was, it seems even he has realised this was an ideology long past it's sell by date. Those unfamiliar with Eagleton's oeurve will find this a succinct introduction to his modus operandi.