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.

Life and Style
A nearly completed RoboThespian robot inside the Engineered Arts workshop is tested in Penryn, England. The Cornish company, operating from an industrial unit near Falmouth, is the world's only maker of commercially available life sized humanoid robots
techSuper-intelligent robots could decide destroying the human race is the kindest thing to do
News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Software Developer (Java /C# Programmer)- London

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global investment management fi...

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition