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Terry the Obscure

Terry Eagleton is not an easy read, but on the whole he's worth it

By Richard Hoggart   October 2000

birmingham university in the mid-1960s. We were interviewing young scholars for a lectureship in English literature. One of them had produced a clever, theoretical, “left-wing” book on Shakespeare. As the last candidate left, the committee settled down to choosing. The dean, a mischievous character who knew what was in play, at once said from the chair: “Well, not much doubt there. Eagleton is head and shoulders above the rest.” I agreed. The department head, a distinguished Shakespearean scholar, could barely contain himself. “I will in no circumstances have that man in my department.” As was the way in those days,…

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