Quotes by: Terry Eagleton
Terry Eagleton holding one of his books after a talk at the Mechanics' Institute, Manchester, in 2008
||Terence Francis Eagleton
22 February 1943 
||Trinity College, Cambridge
||Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983)
The Ideology of the Aesthetic (1990)
The Illusions of Postmodernism (1996)
|Good utopianism/bad utopianism
Karl Marx, F. R. Leavis, Raymond Williams, Louis Althusser, Herbert McCabe
It is true that some liberals and humanists, along with the laid-back Danes, deny the existence of evil. This is largely because they regard the word 'evil' as a device for demonising those who are really nothing more than socially unfortunate.
The German philosopher Walter Benjamin had the curious notion that we could change the past. For most of us, the past is fixed while the future is open.
Irish fiction is full of secrets, guilty pasts, divided identities. It is no wonder that there is such a rich tradition of Gothic writing in a nation so haunted by history.
Postmodernism is among other things a sick joke at the expense of revolutionary avant-gardism.
I say that virtue is really all about enjoying yourself, living fully; but of course it is far from obvious what living fully actually means.
A truly common culture is not one in which we all think alike, or in which we all believe that fairness is next to godliness, but one in which everyone is allowed to be in on the project of cooperatively shaping a common way of life.
Real men study law and engineering, while ideas and values are for sissies. The humanities should constitute the core of any university worth the name.
Most students of literature can pick apart a metaphor or spot an ethnic stereotype, but not many of them can say things like: 'The poem's sardonic tone is curiously at odds with its plodding syntax.'
With fiction, you can talk about plot, character and narrative, whereas a poem brings home the fact that everything that happens in a work of literature happens in terms of language. And this is daunting stuff to deal with.
For Aristotle, goodness is a kind of prospering in the precarious affair of being human.
The role of the intellectual, so it is said, is to speak truth to power. Noam Chomsky has dismissed this pious tag on two grounds. For one thing, power knows the truth already; it is just busy trying to conceal it. For another, it is not those in power who need the truth, but those they oppress.
There is no way in which we can retrospectively erase the Treaty of Vienna or the Great Irish Famine. It is a peculiar feature of human actions that, once performed, they can never be recuperated. What is true of the past will always be true of it.
We face a conflict between civilisation and culture, which used to be on the same side. Civilisation means rational reflection, material wellbeing, individual autonomy and ironic self-doubt; culture means a form of life that is customary, collective, passionate, spontaneous, unreflective and irrational.
For the liberal state to accommodate a diversity of beliefs while having few positive convictions is one of the more admirable achievements of civilization.
Evil is unintelligible. It is just a thing in itself, like boarding a crowded commuter train wearing only a giant boa constrictor. There is no context which would make it explicable.
The British are supposed to be particularly averse to intellectuals, a prejudice closely bound up with their dislike of foreigners. Indeed, one important source of this Anglo-Saxon distaste for highbrows and eggheads was the French revolution, which was seen as an attempt to reconstruct society on the basis of abstract rational principles.
The frontier between public and private shifts from time to time and culture to culture.
Poetry is the most subtle of the literary arts, and students grow more ingenious by the year at avoiding it. If they can nip around Milton, duck under Blake and collapse gratefully into the arms of Jane Austen, a lot of them will.
Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is 'The Book of British Birds,' and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.