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Eagleton or Kermode?

One foundered on his showy idealism, while the other maintained an English critical cool

By Boyd Tonkin   October 2003

Book: After Theory Author: Terry Eagleton Price: (Allen Lane, ?18.99)

Arguments pro and contra the radical cultural theories that emerged from the post-1968 generation of academics have recurred with grim circularity for the last 25 years. As long ago as 1978, the socialist historian EP Thompson published The Poverty of Theory, skewering the fatalistic doctrines of the Stalinist sage, Louis Althusser. Even then, sharper observers had grasped that the gospel according to Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, Lacan et al threatened to congeal into a system of institutional power and patronage just as rigid as anything it sought to dethrone-as, in short…

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