First published in 1983, Literary Theory: An Introduction is probably the best-selling work of literary criticism in the world today. It propelled its author to a position of such influence and controversy within the British academy that even Prince Charles once described him as "that dreadful Terry Eagleton". A quarter of a century on from its original publication, Literary Theory: An Introduction still conjures the subversion, excitement and exoticism that characterized theory through the 1960s and 70s, when it posed an unprecedented challenge to the literary establishment. Contemporary readers seeking to understand what literature is and what it is for will be inspired and entertained by Eagleton's deft synopses of the major movements in literary studies in the twentieth century. Eagleton has added a new preface to this anniversary edition to address more recent developments in literary studies, including what he describes as "the growth of a kind of anti-theory", and the idea that literary theory has been institutionalized. Insightful and enlightening, Literary Theory: An Introduction remains the essential guide to the field.
Terry Eagleton is John Edward Taylor Professor of English Literature at the University of Manchester. His recent publications include How to Read a Poem (2006), The English Novel (2004), Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic (2003), The Idea of Culture (2000), Scholars and Rebels in Nineteenth-Century Ireland (1999), and The Illusions of Postmodernism (1996), all published by Blackwell Publishing.