Eagleton reinvented

March 7, 1997

IN HIS eagerness to agree with Terry Eagleton's moralising strictures against postmodernism's supposedly arbitrary relativism, Peter Aspden (THES, February 28) did not mention that Eagleton himself is a postmodern subject.

The name "Terry Eagleton" is a floating signifier that has referred to a "radical" Catholic, an orthodox New Leftist, an Althusserian, a Benjaminian, a power, a playwright, an "Irish" cultural historian, and now a severe moralist. Since his writing style has changed alongside, future scholars may disagree over whether the one comparative constant - wit - is enough to confirm that the name was that of a single human being. Eagleton's constant reinvention of himself renders his advocacy of absolutes as much a tactic of postmodern presentism as are the intellectual fashions he derides.

Andrew Blake King Alfred's College Winchester

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