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Literary Theory: An Introduction Paperback – Special Edition, 29 Feb 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 25th Anniversary edition edition (29 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140517921X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405179218
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 1.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 137,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"Before Literary Theory, there had been no textbooks for English. There had been guides to particular authors, and even periods, but no single one book that could claim to be "essential reading".... Eagleton′s book―which clearly understands the discipline and institutions of English―offered this." ( Times Literary Supplement , April 2009) "This book shaped the reception of theory in Britain for a generation." ( Times Higher Education Supplement) Praise for the First Edition of Literary Theory “ Literary Theory has the kind of racy readability that one associates more often with English critics who have set their faces resolutely against theory ... It′s not just a brilliant polemical essay, it′s also a remarkable feat of condensation, explication, and synthesis ... Stimulating and entertaining.” (Sunday Times) “This concise and lucid volume offers a satisfying survey of all the major theories, from structuralism in the 1960s to deconstruction today, that have made academic criticism both intriguing and off–putting to the outsider.” (New York Times Book Review) “A polemical, amusing and very informative introduction ... indispensable.” (Jonathan Culler) "The best handbook to those arcane ics and isms, both for academy members and for any civilians who, having heard the distant roar of professorial cannons, might wonder what the skirmishing is about." (Voice Literary Supplement)

From the Back Cover

First published in 1983, Literary Theory: An Introduction is probably the best–selling work of literary criticism in the world today. It propelled its author to a position of such influence and controversy within the British academy that even Prince Charles once described him as “that dreadful Terry Eagleton”.

A quarter of a century on from its original publication, Literary Theory: An Introduction still conjures the subversion, excitement and exoticism that characterized theory through the 1960s and 70s, when it posed an unprecedented challenge to the literary establishment. Contemporary readers seeking to understand what literature is and what it is for will be inspired and entertained by Eagleton’s deft synopses of the major movements in literary studies in the twentieth century.

Eagleton has added a new preface to this anniversary edition to address more recent developments in literary studies, including what he describes as “the growth of a kind of anti–theory”, and the idea that literary theory has been institutionalized. Insightful and enlightening, Literary Theory: An Introduction remains the essential guide to the field.

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Format: Paperback
Though it's been a while since I was at Uni I still clearly remember how awful the prospect of studying Lit Theory was. Not only were the lectures dull, most of it hardly seemed to make sense and had no real bearing on world. However, this book single handedly changed all of that for me. Simple and clear, Eagleton lays bare the major theories including strucuralism, semiotics, post-structuralism and everyone's favourite: psychoanalysis.

In particular I would recommend this book to anyone trying to get to grips with post-structuralism. If you've ever tried to read Derrida you'll know that it is the most impossible thing in the world (there is many a lecturer who won't touch it). However, a couple of read throughs of Eagleton and you'll be a master.

Seriously, anyone even thinking about starting on Lit Theory get this book now. It's a life saver and a life changer.
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Though many people believe this book to have been superceded, there is still a considerable academic body of opinion which believes that it is still the best introduction to Literary Theory around. Eagleton in print comes across much as he does face to face, eloquent and personable, and the comparitive readibility of this work (compared to some other theoretical works) speaks volumes for its value. Though admittedly somewhat reductive (inevitably for an introduction) in places, "Literary Theory: an Introduction" is still one of the best Dummies guides around. I am now a postgraduate and still refer to this book regularly, if only as a point of departure for looking at primary texts. Invaluable to the student of English and any related discipline.
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Format: Paperback
This is, by some distance, the best single-volume introduction to literary theory. Eagleton writes judiciously and with wry humour about a subject which presents problems for many people. Any difficult terminology is lucidly explained, and despite Eagleton's own political inclinations, this book is no Marxist theory of literature. To say that it is, as some previous reviewers have done, reveals that you either want to disparage the book for your own political ends, or you haven't read it very closely. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very landmark product in the history of critical theory, but as an introduction to Literary Theory there are better places to go.

I found Eagleton quite fun to read, but you have to be on your toes as not everything he states is as objective as a total stranger to the field might desire.

The book is also really long. Introductions to topics should be comprehensive and concise. This book is neither. Although Eagleton's summary is interesting and generates fresh material, he misses feminism, queer theory, ecocriticism...etc.

I read the Eagleton before starting an English Literature course at university. During the first semester I got back in touch with my old English teacher and asked if he had any further recommendations for Literary Theory, and he sent me here:
Beginning theory (third edition): An introduction to literary and cultural theory (Beginnings)

I'm not a fan of Peter Barry's insistence on frequent 'DIY' exercises, but his is a book I could read quickly and easily, whilst getting a feel for the big picture of critical theory.

In my opinion, literery theory can only really be approached as an 'introduction' if not studied as a means to understanding a specific text. Sooner or later you'll happen across a school of criticism which is aligns with your own thoughts regarding literature, and when that time comes it's useful to be able to put some details and context to the rather erudite names.

I don't wish to undersell Terry Eagleton. I found this book fascinating, and was telling my friends and family (much to their annoyance) about some of the more beautiful allegories throughout my reading. It's just that it was more intellectual entertainment than anything else, and ironically a more academic approach to the subject might call for 'simpler' books.
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Format: Paperback
Usually, it is hard to find books about literary theory that give an easy point of view to nonacademic readers. Eagleton achieves a simple yet complete explanation of the main literary theories of 20th. century. Even though he sustains a MArxist point of view he is able to explain and recognize the most important achievements of each current. I think the best of his ideas is that we should take a position when we talk about literature. Excellent book for beginners
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Raunchy and lucid. Justifiably tough on deconstruction. The ending is sad, as the author believes that all which needed to be created to crticise properly, has been, and that the discipline has nowhere left to go. The book shows that literary criticism has gone mad, and that it possibly needs to return to romantic basics. The message is clear that the European, Cartesian, deductive school has led us inductive Anglo-Saxons up a blind alley. That the "modern" school should now have to rely on Marx and on Freud to resolve its existential problems rightly comes over as absurd.
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I have just finished a BA English degree course, and inevitably modern literary theory made an appearance from time to time. Happily, this didn't happen very often. I am a retired lawyer and found much of what was recommended in this line obscure, indigestible and sometimes plain silly. By chance, I discovered a superb book that enabled me to understand how to play these games. This was Lois Tyson's 'Critical Theory Today' (2nd. ed, 2006). She explains even the most bizarre theories very clearly, and has adopted the excellent device of applying each of the theories to the same text ('The Great Gatsby') in a short model essay at the end of every chapter. On the strength of her book, and some other practical books recommended for beginners in her bibliographies, I was able to score over 70% for my effort to 'deconstruct' a short story by Charlotte Mew. Value of the exercise for literary appreciation: nil. Value as parlour game and grade accumulator: very high.
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