Literary critic rails at 'Jedward' of novelists

His famously stinging critique of Martin Amis's writings on Islam helped to make his name as Britain's foremost literary critic. But Terry Eagleton has saved some of his most poisonous invective for a fellow critic.

In a review published in the London Review of Books today, Eagleton is scathing of debut novelist Craig Raine's first work of fiction, Heartbreak. As a novel, Eagleton wrote, Heartbreak was comparable to defining Jedward as singers – "The description is true but misleading" – adding: "Craig Raine's Heartbreak is a novel in the sense in which Eton is a school near Slough."

The Marxist literary critic, who is professor of cultural theory at the National University of Ireland, suggested that instead of being a cohesive work, the novel was in fact a collection of short stories, "loosely linked by the topic announced in the title".

"But perhaps because the English are said to be averse to buying such volumes, the publishers have represented it as a novel, rather as Jedward are represented as singers," he wrote.

Raine, a poet and novelist and editor of the literary magazine Areté, was unmoved by the criticism.

"I really enjoyed not reading Terry Eagleton's review almost as much as he enjoyed not reading my novel," he said. The novelist added: "In summary, I gather, his conclusion is that I can't write. No piece of writing is flawless, of course. But I don't think it likely that my novel is made up entirely of flaws."

He also claimed that Eagleton's view of his work was coloured by earlier disagreements between the pair. Raine said: "Eagleton didn't like my study of TS Eliot either, nor did Tom Paulin. Now Eagleton doesn't like my novel. This is because he is reading it with a squint – from where I have poked him in the eye in the past."

He added: "Years and years ago, a girlfriend took me to lunch at the family home. Her father took an instant dislike to me, which manifested itself in his carving of the joint. Lean, translucent medallions and fragile veils of beef for everyone else. For me, an umbilical cord of gristle requiring perversely intricate surgery. You get the picture."

Raine, a leading exponent of so-called Martianism – a minor branch of British poetry in the 1970s and 1980s – has links to another of the movement's protagonists, Martin Amis, another target of Eagleton's ire. He wrote in 2007 that Amis was advocating "a deliberate programme of harassing the Muslim community in Britain" to convince them to "get its house in order", a logic Eagleton called "mildly defective".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat