Eagleton stirs up the campus with attack on 'racist' Amis and son

If Martin Amis, who has just taken up a teaching post at the University of Manchester, should happen to bump into the Marxist literary critic Terry Eagleton on campus, it could be an uncomfortable meeting.

In the new introduction to the 2007 edition of his classic book, Ideology: An Introduction, Eagleton launches an impassioned attack on the views of "Amis and his ilk" who argue that the West needs to clamp down on Islam.

Eagleton also attacks Amis's father Kingsley as "a racist, anti-Semitic boor, a drink-sodden, self-hating reviler of women, gays and liberals". He adds that he believes that "Amis fils has clearly learnt more from him than how to turn a shapely phrase".

The spur for Eagleton's criticism is Amis's assertion that, as the Islamic population swells, "the Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order". On 10 September 2006, the day before the fifth anniversary of the bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York, Amis published a controversial essay entitled "The Age of Horrorism", in which he argued that fundamentalists had won the battle between Islam and Islamism.

Amis has suggested "strip-searching people who look like they're from the Middle East or from Pakistan", preventing Muslims from travelling, and further down the road, deportation. "Not the ramblings of a British National Party thug," writes Eagleton, "but the reflections of Martin Amis, leading luminary of the English metropolitan literary world."

He adds that 16 years ago when Ideology was first published, Amis would have recognised "the folly and ignorance of believing that authoritarianism and injustice can secure the defence of liberty". The reason for Amis's change of heart, he believes, was the "so-called War Against Terror". "It is this which has inspired a cluster of liberals and leftists in his circle ... to defend Western freedom by actively undermining it."

Instead of pitting two sets of values against one another – Westernism and Islam – Eagleton argues that the "fundamental material critique" which he has pioneered throughout his career was more relevant than ever.

Eagleton has been professor of cultural theory at Manchester University since 2001. Born in Salford in 1943, a third-generation Irish immigrant, into a Roman Catholic family, he was educated at a grammar school run by the De La Salle brotherhood, before attending Trinity College, Cambridge.

He remained a Catholic until 1970, when his religion was replaced by Marxism. He began his academic career as a Victorianist and taught for many years at Oxford University, becoming one of the pre-eminent literary theorists of the age, writing critiques of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Samuel Richardson and the Brontës among others. He has more recently become interested in comparative literature as well as the culture of Ireland. He lives in Dublin with his second wife and their son. Ideology was first published by Verso in 1991.

Amis, the author of The Rachel Papers, Money and London Fields, whose next novel, The Pregnant Widow, has an Islamic theme, last month took up the post as professor of creative writing at Manchester. Applications for the master of arts course which he is teaching were boosted from 100 to 150 by the news of his arrival. He is teaching two subjects – the novella and the works of Vladimir Nabokov and Saul Bellow, two of his favourite authors.

When his appointment was announced, Amis gave an insight into what he would be teaching students. "If all this does turn out to have a theme, it'll be, 'Don't go with the crowd, don't do anything for the crowd, don't be of the crowd or with the crowd," he said.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
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 General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?