By Terry Eagleton
Terry Eagleton is among the so much important—and so much radical—theorists writing this day. His witty and acerbic assaults on modern tradition and society are learn and loved through many, and his reports of literature are considered as classics of latest criticism.
Ranging around the key works of Raymond Williams, Lenin, Trostsky, Brecht, Adorno, Benjamin, Lukacs and Sartre, he develops a nuanced critique of conventional literary feedback whereas generating a compelling theoretical account of ideology.
Eagleton makes use of this attitude to provide attention-grabbing analyses of canonical writers, together with George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence.
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Additional info for Criticism and Ideology: A Study in Marxist Literary Theory
But even within the novel-form itself, W illiams reflects the provincialism of a Lukacs. It is not that he shares Lukacs’s stiff-necked Stalinist disapproval of ‘ modernism’, as his enthusiasm for Joyce would itself attest; but in critical practice he behaves more or less as though he does. The predilections which he betrays are in this sense not quite at one with what he would theoretically claim. The English Novel from Dic\ens to Lawrence is an implicit riposte to Leavis’s The Great Tradition, just as Modem Tragedy is an unavowed critique of George Steiner’s The Death of Tragedy, yet its parallelism to Leavis’s text is as notable as its antagonism.
W hat seems intended as some form of historical expressionism emerges as academic closet-drama. It is, once more, as though W illiams’s theoretical predilections are at odds with his actual sensibility - as though the ‘ English realism’ which is his almost by instinct is locked in combat with an intellectual and imaginative thrusting beyond its confines. It is perhaps not accidental in this respect that much of his critical work on drama has recur rently focused on the fraught moment of historical transition from naturalist to post-naturalist forms.
Culture and Society, P- *45-) M utations o f Critical Ideology 41 ideology by insisting on the contradictory unity of the agrarian and industrial. This is not at all the ‘ essential’ unity of an ‘ ordinary culture’ artificially disrupted by a hegemonic system; it is precisely the unity of that hegemonic mode itself, outside which nothing can escape into innocence. T o defend the realities of rural society, Williams is necessarily led to a political language which transcends the populist idealism of his earlier case.