‘How to Read Literature’ by Terry Eagleton. Understanding Openings and ‘A Passage to India’

by Levi Crews

Yale Books Blog: Yale University Press London

What makes a work of literature good or bad? How freely can the reader interpret it? Could a nursery rhyme like Baa Baa Black Sheep be full of concealed loathing, resentment, and aggression? In this accessible, delightfully entertaining book, Terry Eagleton addresses these intriguing questions and a host of others. How to Read Literature is the book of choice for students new to the study of literature and for all other readers interested in deepening their understanding and enriching their reading experience. 

In this extract from the first Chapter of How to Read Literature, author, critic and philosopher Terry Eagleton discusses the mechanics of openings and why the narrator of A Passage to India seems so bored.

Learning how to be a literary critic is, among other things, a matter of learning how to deploy certain techniques. Like a lot of techniques – scuba-diving, for example, or playing the…

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