Anything with ‘introduction’ in the title can easily appear off-putting to the more thoughtful and reflexive reader; promise me you won’t let that happen!
This is a very serious and (rather unsurprisingly) an extraordinarily witty romp through the history of ideology critique.
Eagleton may be a bourgeois socialist, occupying some of the headier heights of the English academy, and has even been able to avail of the odd Guardian opportunity here and there.
And yet, this ‘double’ figure has retained many of the robust Swiftian satire instincts of his noble Celtic ancestors, whose spirits and destinies must surely have been as far from the Anglo-Metropolitan elite as you could possibly imagine!
Eagleton reels and staggers through a dizzying array of savants, silly buggers and strange ideas, with plenty of merriment and tall stories along the way.
Eagleton has a habit of sucking you in with an apparently ridiculous ‘shift’ in the narrative, until you finally get to the sucker-punch.
You are ambling along at ease, and all of a sudden something seems not quite right. Increasingly perturbed by the apparent Damascene flip-flops or the narrator, Eagleton finally puts you out of your misery with a sarcastic sucker punch!
At this point, you realise he was only windin’, as we say back in the homeland.
But the book isn’t mere blarney. If fact, whether you agree or not with the short, sharp, punchy summations of key figures and concepts or not, the book has a weight and substance that transcends its mercilessly comic and satirical tone. The book may not always be sober, but it is always serious. Think a slightly less grumpy, but equally ruthless and barbaric Slavoj Zizek!
It doesn’t matter how you align in terms of the contentious political disputes of the day; this is still a very important text for understanding the Zeitgeist, and it is very much a non-sectarian text in its appeal…
At least it should be!