Tragedy Terry Eagleton

Publication date:
25 Aug 2020
Yale University Press
216 pages: 210 x 140mm
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An exploration of tragedy and its fundamental position in Western culture

In this compelling account, eminent literary critic Terry Eagleton explores the nuances of tragedy in Western culture—from literature and politics to philosophy and theater. Eagleton covers a vast array of thinkers and practitioners, including Nietzsche, Walter Benjamin, and Slavoj Žižek, as well as key figures in theater, from Sophocles and Aeschylus to Shakespeare and Ibsen.
Eagleton examines the political nature of tragedy, looking closely at its connection with periods of historical transition. The dramatic form originated not as a meditation on the human condition, but at moments of political engagement, when civilizations struggled with the conflicts that beset them. Tragedy, Eagleton demonstrates, is fundamental to human experience and culture.

Terry Eagleton is Distinguished Visiting Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, and the author of more than fifty books in the fields of literary theory, postmodernism, politics, ideology, and religion.

“Eagleton suggests that for postmodernists who think unity of purpose is an illusion, tragedy simply highlights the fact. Certainly, an enduring point of tragedy is that some tragic events serve no obvious purpose.”—Nick Mattise, Insights Magazine

"Many discussions of tragedy point out that calling an event or situation “tragic” these days is really just an emotionally charged way of saying “very sad indeed”; it has little to do with the literary and philosophical conventions that we associate with tragedy as an art form...One of the most important features of Terry Eagleton’s brief but resourceful new book on the subject is the way in which he exposes the shadow side of any such approach."—Rowan Williams, The Tablet 


“[S]ets particular understandings of tragic art in their (usually Marxist) historical context”—Richard Harries, Church Times

Tragedy will be widely read and is an engaging snapshot of a life-time's thinking about the genre of tragedy.”—Simon Goldhill, Times Literary Supplement