Across the Pond by Terry Eagleton
An Englishman's View of America

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...despite the reliance on stereotypes, Eagleton doesn’t lose sight of individual Americans. He recognizes the paradox that in America “individuality” is a general attribute of the national identity.
-Toronto Star

Synopsis

An irreverent trip through American culture by a critic who “cracks jokes as easily as one would crack walnut shells” (Washington Post).


Americans have long been fascinated with the oddness of the British, but the English, says literary critic Terry Eagleton, find their transatlantic neighbors just as strange. Only an alien race would admiringly refer to a colleague as “aggressive,” use superlatives to describe everything from one’s pet dog to one’s rock collection, or speak frequently of being “empowered.” Why, asks Eagleton, must we broadcast our children’s school grades with bumper stickers announcing “My Child Made the Honor Roll”? Why don’t we appreciate the indispensability of the teapot? And why must we remain so irritatingly optimistic, even when all signs point to failure?

On his quirky journey through the language, geography, and national character of the United States, Eagleton proves to be at once an informal and utterly idiosyncratic guide to our peculiar race. He answers the questions his compatriots have always had but (being British) dare not ask, like why Americans willingly rise at the crack of dawn, even on Sundays, or why we publicly chastise cigarette smokers as if we’re all spokespeople for the surgeon general.


In this pithy, warmhearted, and very funny book, Eagleton melds a good old-fashioned roast with genuine admiration for his neighbors “across the pond.”

 

About Terry Eagleton

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Terry Eagleton was born in Manchester, England. The author of more than forty books, including the seminal Literary Theory: An Introduction, he has taught at Oxford, Cambridge, and the University of Manchester. He resides in Dublin, Ireland, with his wife and children.
 
Published June 24, 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company. 192 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Across the Pond
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Jul 11 2013

He meditates on Shakespeare and Austen and Dickens and Melville and Milton, among others. This is lovely. But he considers the work of few writers born after 1940. A sense that you might be reading Mortimer Adler sneaks in.

Read Full Review of Across the Pond: An Englishma... | See more reviews from NY Times

Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by Maxwell Sater on Jul 01 2013

...this book does present itself in true Eagleton-like fashion. Beneath the stereotypes and the jokes, there are many poignant and acute observations that, if paid attention to, have an important lesson to teach.

Read Full Review of Across the Pond: An Englishma... | See more reviews from Washington Times

Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Alex Good on Aug 02 2013

...despite the reliance on stereotypes, Eagleton doesn’t lose sight of individual Americans. He recognizes the paradox that in America “individuality” is a general attribute of the national identity.

Read Full Review of Across the Pond: An Englishma... | See more reviews from Toronto Star

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