Literary Theory: An Introduction by Terry Eagleton

This is a marvelous book that explicates modern literary theories in very readable English. The author has a Marxist bent that flavors his discourse throughout, but he does a good job of explaining critical theories like formalism, the New Criticism, phenomenology, structuralism, semiotics, deconstruction, and psychoanalysis. He also asks pertinent and seemingly unanswerable questions, such as, what is literature? What is the purpose of studying literature? Is there a scientific way to study literature? He concludes on a Marxist note that the death of literature and literary studies might not necessarily be such a bad thing, since in his opinion “great” and “classical” literature is an ideological product of the ruling class, but I cannot agree with him there. I find literature to be fundamentally democratic: anyone who can write and has talent can find an audience, and although the literary snobs control the classroom they do not control the reading public. A wonderful read.

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