Note this review was orginally written for a now long defunct livejournal.
I like Terry Eagleton well enough. I haven’t read many of his works (I’ve only read three, actually, the brilliant memoir The Gatekeeper, Literary Theory, and now Figures of Dissent) but I think I’ve dipped my toe in enough to be able to opine on his work. Literary Theory was a pretty important book for me. It was the first thing I read that explained a lot of the theoretical concepts that I would be interested in during my twenties including feminist theory, post-colonial theory, post-structuralism, post-modernism, and all else that falls under the broad tent of “theory”. I’ll do a full review of Literary Theory when its time comes, but for now, let’s just say Figure of Dissent is no Literary Theory.
This is a book of Eagleton’s reviews and thought pieces on various literary and cultural figures. It’s kind of fun if not particularly serious. His piece on Zizek is great and while it doesn’t explain Zizek’s overarching theory all that well (a perhaps impossible task as I’m not convinced Zizek is anything other than a huckster), it does do a good job of explaining a lot of Zizek’s pop culture appeal. Some of the other essays, I barely remember, which shows you the deep impact they had on me. Like mine, I imagine your time is limited. This is one of those books you can skip without missing much, but also isn’t a waste of time.
Recommended (really only) for the enthusiast.