Terry Eagleton FBA (born February 22, 1943) is a British literary theorist, critic and philosopher, who is regarded as one of the United Kingdom's most influential living literary critics. Eagleton is currently Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, and as a former Visiting Professor at the National University of Ireland.
- Deconstruction... insists not that truth is illusory but that it is institutional.
- Frère Jacques: The Politics of Deconstruction, ch. 6, Against the Grain (1984)
- Postmodernism is among other things a sick joke at the expense of... revolutionary avant-gardism.
- Capitalism, Modernism and Postmodernism, ch. 9 (1985)
- What persuades men and women to mistake each other from time to time for gods or vermin is ideology. One can understand well enough how human beings may struggle and murder for good material reasons—reasons connected, for instance, with their physical survival. It is much harder to grasp how they may come to do so in the name of something as apparently abstract as ideas. Yet ideas are what men and women live by, and will occasionally die for.
- Ideology, introduction (1991)
- It is silly to call fat people “gravitationally challenged”, a self-righteous fetishism of language which is no more than a symptom of political frustration.
- Guardian (October 27, 1992)
- Post-structuralism is among other things a kind of theoretical hangover from the failed uprising of ‘68, a way of keeping the revolution warm at the level of language, blending the euphoric libertarianism of that moment with the stoical melancholia of its aftermath.
- Guardian (October 27, 1992)
- "Man eternally tries to get back to an organic past that has slipped just beyond his reach".
Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983)
- Literature transforms and intensifies ordinary language, deviates systematically from everyday speech. If you approach me at a bus stop and murmur "Thou still unravished bride of quietness," then I am instantly aware that I am in the presence of the literary.
- Ideology... is a kind of contemporary mythology, a realm which has purged itself of ambiguity and alternative possibility.
Against The Grain (1986)
- Chaucer was a class traitor
Shakespeare hated the mob
Donne sold out a bit later
Sidney was a nob.
- Ch. 14, The Ballad of English Literature
- All propaganda or popularization involves a putting of the complex into the simple, but such a move is instantly deconstructive. For if the complex can be put into the simple, then it cannot be as complex as it seemed in the first place; and if the simple can be an adequate medium of such complexity, then it cannot after all be as simple as all that.
- Ch. 10, The Critic as Clown
- Readers are less and less seen as mere non-writers, the subhuman “other” or flawed derivative of the author; the lack of a pen is no longer a shameful mark of secondary status but a positively enabling space, just as within every writer can be seen to lurk, as a repressed but contaminating antithesis, a reader.
- Ch. 13, The Revolt of the Reader
Ideology: An Introduction 1991
- "It is important to see that, in the critique of ideology, only those interventions will work which make sense to the mystified subject itself."
Preface to the Routledge Classics Edition Marxism and Literary Theory (2002)
- "What perished in the Soviet Union was Marxist only in the sense that the Inquisition was Christian"
After Theory (2003)
- "Cultural theory as we have it promises to grapple with some fundamental problems, but on the whole fails to deliver. It has been shamefaced about morality and metaphysics, embarrassed about love, biology, religion and revolution, largely silent about evil, reticent about death and suffering, dogmatic about essences, universals and foundations, and superficial about truth, objectivity and disinterestedness. This, on any estimate, is rather a large slice of human existence to fall down on. It is also, as we have suggested before, rather an awkward moment in history to find oneself with little or nothing to say about such fundamental questions."
- "In some traditionalist universities not long ago, you could not research on authors who were still alive. This was a great incentive to slip a knife between their ribs one foggy evening, or a remarkable test of patience if your chosen novelist was in rude health and only 34".
Why Marx Was Right (2011)
- You can tell that the capitalist system is in trouble when people start talking about capitalism.
- Preface, p. xi
- After all, if you do not resist the apparently inevitable, you will never know how inevitable the inevitable was.
- Chapter 1, p. 6
- Modern capitalist nations are the fruit of a history of slavery, genocide, violence and exploitation every bit as abhorrent as Mao's China or Stalin's Soviet Union.
- Chapter 2, p. 12
- History works itself out by an inevitable internal logic.
- Chapter 3, p. 44
- It is capitalism, not Marxism, that trades in futures.
- Chapter 4, p. 65
- The truth is that the past exists no more than the future, even though it feels as though it does.
- Chapter 4, p. 70
- There seems to be something in humanity which will not bow meekly to the insolence of power.
- Chapter 4, p. 100
- The most compelling confirmation of Marx's theory of history is late capitalist society. There is a sense in which this case is becoming truer as time passes.
- Chapter 5, p. 115
- Ivory towers are as rare as bowling alleys in tribal cultures.
- Chapter 6, p. 134
- When it comes to who exactly should be exploited, the system is admirably egalitarian.
- Chapter 7, p. 162
- Capitalism cannot survive without a working class, while the working class can flourish a lot more freely without capitalism.
- Chapter 7, p. 177
- The liberal state is neutral between capitalism and its critics until the critics look like they are winning.
- Chapter 9, p. 197
- Socialism is the completion of democracy, not the negation of it.
- Chapter 9, p. 202
- Capitalism is the sorcerer's apprentice: it has summoned up powers which have spun wildly out of control and now threaten to destroy us.The task of socialism is not to spur on those powers but to bring them under rational human control.
- Chapter 10, p. 236