3.29.2010

Review: The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction, by Terry Eagleton

Believe it or not, I actually got through this one. After the failure that was Game Theory, I was worried that I was losing my feel for nonfiction. But nay, I say.

Now, obviously this book doesn't have an answer for anyone asking what the meaning of life is. That would be kind of silly. If that were the case, it would have sold more copies than the Bible, and Terry Eagleton would be the new Jesus. He's not quite that, but he IS Britain's most influential living literary critic. He's written something like 40 books, many of them about literary theory and postmodernism. I know, I know, you're already shaking with anticipation. I was surprised that he did not write Very Short Intro's book on Literary Theory, however he did write a book called Literary Theory: An Introduction, which is probably very similar, but maybe longer. I guess I'll have to read it.

As I said, the book doesn't really offer an answer so much as an analytical study of what meaning is, and what life is, and what "meaning"...well....means. He uses examples from Freud and Nietzsche and a few others to back up his findings which, in the end, gave me a new point from which to view how one lives ones life. It wasn't really life changing....I had this conversation with a friend the other day (briefly) about whether or not books can change your life or if they simply give you a new set of options by which to live it. This book showed me those options without making them completely accessible. This is because it's highly philosophical and I never really did well in Philosophy. My first class on Philosophy in college was taught by an ancient woman who often wore these opaque cerulean stockings. My second class on Philosophy was taught by a man who wasn't even old enough for me to respect his knowledge of philosophy, and he talked mostly about Seinfeld. I like Seinfeld, but I don't care about how it relates, okay?

I do, however, believe that books can change one's life, beyond simply providing the tools or by allowing for a new perspective on life. I'm going to make a list of the books that I know have changed my life beyond all of that. I won't make it here, but I'm sure it'll crop up some day.

Going back to the book, it was enjoyable and had enough points of humor to keep me interested, but it still felt a little over my head. But then, I suppose that given the subject matter, it kind of has to be.

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