[Marxism] Fwd: Interview: Terry Eagleton | Features | Times Higher Education

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jan 12 06:20:08 MST 2015

These were days when it was thought by many, including Eagleton, that 
literary criticism had the potential to play a politically revolutionary 
role. This is hard now to imagine, a point I put to Eagleton who seems 
almost to share this retrospective bemusement, which surprises me. 
Perhaps I am in danger of making the Cambridge mistake. Besides, it has 
been many years since Eagleton was, in his own words, “an earnest, 
high-minded, grim-lipped intellectual”. He explains that it was feminism 
that, around 1980, helped him out of that phase, with his work 
thereafter marked by all sorts of “low-minded” virtues such as bathos, 
irony and indeed comedy.

I ask him about this, the comedy, quoting a line from his novel Saints 
and Scholars (1987): “Your revolution will not succeed because you have 
not yet learnt to be frivolous.” So what is it about comedy? Why so 
important? “It is”, he says, “because comedy can be a form of 
friendship, solidarity. I mean, one of the difficulties of being a 
radical is always being against or outside things. Radicals want to come 
in from the cold as much as anybody else.” For Eagleton, it seems, the 
cold is part of the radical life – he is now both thinking of Bertolt 
Brecht and quoting him: “‘We who wanted to prepare the ground for 
friendship could not ourselves be friendly.’ ”


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