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Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Potts and pans
So, refreshing. And then comes along Terry Eagleton, who seems to revel in a slippery tone that can veer from humour to smarts in seconds flat - which is ironic, because essentially he critiques Craig Raine's new novel, in the LRB, for being humorous and over-intelligent in a way that emphasized Martian-style simile, mouths, and intellectual tosh; he also complained of an over-attention paid to female nether parts, especially of the anal kind. In general he felt the novel was soulless, and lacking in a moral vision, instead, focused on amoral faithless sex fiends. One wonders how Eagleton would have reviewed Lolita, another sexually nihilistic satire; or indeed Lucky Jim, also filled with empty blockheads mouthing literary jargon. Marxists tend not to appreciate style for its own sake.
Does Eagleton like Tarr by Wyndham Lewis? That being said, Raine - a major British poet of the 80s - may not be a great novelist, lord knows. But does a godless Marxist constitute a lord? I like a lot of TG's writing, but sometimes it gets too popularist, and the jokes jar. What seems notable here is the thrill of seeing big beasts tracked to their lairs. It speaks of daring, and of an establishment willing to be shaken a bit. Or to have some of its bushes beaten. To mix a metaphor.