... exhilarating ... Eagleton’s great achievement here is to look beyond the scrim of five tricky personalities to identify the continuities in their work, which added up to a revolution in the way that people – not just professional academics, but the whole community of readers throughout the English-speaking world – thought and talked about books ... It would be hard to think of any writer better able to lay out the dust-ups and love-ins of interwar literary culture than Terry Eagleton. His own critical interventions have always been distinguished by an exemplary clarity, not to mention a generous humour ... Eagleton’s goal here is not to mock or diminish. His respect for these thinkers, in whose tradition he is perhaps the last member (he was taught by Raymond Williams, the youngest of the Cambridge group) shimmers gratefully and lovingly on the page.
Terry Eagleton’s probes into English literature, conducted with tremendous fluency, humor, and the knowledgeable experience of a skilled diagnostician, continue apace with his latest book ... agleton’s sense of humor can be droll, incisive, or just funny ... His writing is also characterized by the ability to deftly illustrate the weakness in a point of view with examples that are telling but rarely run-of-the-mill ... The missing chapter in this book is one about Eagleton himself for he combines the strengths of the five critics he discusses and emerges as the most knowledgeable critical revolutionary of them all. His richly informed writing is enhanced by perspicacity, wit, and discrimination. He has learned from those he pays tribute to and at the end of the road in literary criticism, whatever path is taken, the issues he raises in his discussions of them are likely to be found waiting.
... a lively, partisan study of those five critics’ innovative ideas and (in most cases) archaic urges ... Eagleton’s style has long been polemical, chatty, boisterous, but not very intimate in its readings of texts...But a study of five long-dead white male critics, most of whom taught at Cambridge: this is ancient and recondite history, no? Oddly, not quite.
... erudite ... Along with shrewd analysis, Eagleton exhibits great wit, describing Eliot, for example, as an 'unstable compound of bourgeois stuffiness and literary saboteur.' This will delight scholars and students alike.