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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum