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This interview is taken from PN Review 80, Volume 17 Number 6, July - August 1991.

in conversation with Terry Eagleton Nicolas Tredell


Nicolas Tredell: Could you start by telling us about your early life and cultural development?

Terry Eagleton: Yes. I was born in Salford in Lancashire. My parents were first generation English and my grandparents were all Irish immigrants. My two grandfathers, quite coincidentally, both worked in the gas works in Salford, my father was an engineering worker in what was then, I think, the largest engineering plant in the country, in Manchester, and my mother was a shorthand typist. They were part of enormous Irish immigrant families who had little formal education themselves but were ambitious for their children. So that was the background I came from. It was to some extent a Catholic ghetto, in the sense that one was aware early on, in some mysterious way, that one was different from other people. One of the more positive sides of it, however, was that I was educated by the De La Salle Brothers who had, whatever else one might say about them, a fairly good track record in Ireland in getting the sons of poor peasants out of the bog and into something else. That was really what they were doing, and so I was astonished to find that, despite this rather rigorous and scholastic mode of education, it made ultimately for the kind of systematic thought which is of value to the Left. In other words, I would say that one advantage of a Catholic education, from a ...

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