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Preview — Mimesis by Erich Auerbach. A half-century after its translation into English, Erich Auerbach’s “Mimesis” still stands as a monumental achievement in literary criticism. A brilliant display of erudition, wit, and wisdom, his exploration of how great European writers from Homer to Virginia Woolf depicted reality has taught generations how to read Western literature.
This new expanded edition includes A half-century after its translation into English, Erich Auerbach’s “Mimesis” still stands as a monumental achievement in literary criticism. This new expanded edition includes a substantial essay in introduction by Edward Said as well as an essay, never before translated into English, in which Auerbach responds to his critics.
He left for Turkey, where he taught at the state university in Istanbul. There he wrote “Mimesis,” publishing it in German after the end of the war. Displaced as he was, Auerbach produced a work of great erudition that contains no footnotes, basing his arguments instead on searching, illuminating readings of key passages from his primary texts.
His aim was to show how from antiquity to the twentieth century literature progressed toward ever more naturalistic and democratic forms of representation. This essentially optimistic view of European history now appears as a defensive–and impassioned–response to the inhumanity he saw in the Third Reich.
Ranging over works in Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and English, Auerbach used his remarkable skills in philology and comparative literature to refute any narrow form of nationalism or chauvinism, in his own day and ours. For many readers, both inside and outside the academy, “Mimesis” is among the finest works of literary criticism ever written.
Paperback50th Anniversary Editionpages. Published April 27th by Princeton University Press first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Mimesisplease sign up.
Lists with This Book. Feb 03, Hadrian rated it it was amazing Shelves: Mimesis is an astonishing look at the history of Western literature, remarkable not only for its discussion of nearly everything between the Odyssey and Proust, but also how he has something original to say about odcidentale of these.
Mimesis. Il realismo nella letteratura occidentale : Erich Auerbach :
All of these essays would work on their own, and be respected pieces in their fields. The first chapter, Odysseus’ scar, is still used by classicists today. Each chapter benefits from close readings of the texts, and extensive quotations in the original language.
But the wh Mimesis is an astonishing look at the history of Western literature, remarkable not only for its discussion of nearly everything between the Odyssey and Proust, but also how he has something original to say about all of these. But the whole is greater than the parts, and Auerbach’s broader goal is the representation of reality in literature, as well as the recognition of historical context.
Auerbach begins his long project with a comparison of sections of The Odyssey and a The New Testament. Both are tremendously influential on Western literature, of course, but Auerbach asserts that the Odyssey is direct about listing facts in the narrative, and the religious narratives have omissions to heighten the sense of mystery and suspense. From there we go forth through the later Romans, the medieval romances and passion plays, courtly romance, Montaigne’s essays and the role of the author, Don Quixote, the 19th century Germans, the French authors of Balzac, Stendhal, and Flaubert, and concludes with the high modernists of Joyce, Woolf, and Proust.
No Russian authors, but that’s because Auerbach can’t read Russian, and would lack the depth of analysis he would offer otherwise. This is a deeply impressive book, and offers new ways of thinking about literature. I was particularly impressed with his analysis of medieval literature and its reaction to classical norms, a topic which I know nothing about, but also his look at Virginia Woolf.
A book for those who love books and want to further plumb their depths. View all 10 comments. Jul 14, Jim Coughenour rated it it was amazing Shelves: Maybe the most impressive work of literary criticism ever written, not least because of the circumstances under which it was composed: Auerbach, a German philologist fired by the Nazis for being a Jew, in exile in an Istanbul library as European civilization destroyed itself — re-imagining the literature that had given it birth.
The book’s insights are inexhaustible. I’ve returned to it again and again for 30 years. View all 6 comments. Mar 02, Bruce rated it it was amazing. Fleeing the Nazis inthe noted German philologist and scholar of comparative literature and criticism Erick Auerbach settled in Istanbul where, without access to his extensive library, he wrote Mimesis — The Representation of Reality in Western Literaturea prime example of what subsequent scholars have come to call historicism.
This is an amazing book, as fascinating as it is dense, as provocative in its ideas as it is impressive. For the interested reader I would suggest beginning with Fleeing the Nazis inthe noted German philologist and scholar of comparative literature and criticism Erick Auerbach settled in Istanbul where, without access to his extensive library, he wrote Mimesis — The Representation of Reality in Western Literaturea prime example of what subsequent scholars have come to call historicism.
Auerbach proceeds chronologically, starting with Homeric and Hebraic literature and continuing through the modernist novels of Woolf, Proust, and Joyce. He moves on to medieval epics from France and Germany, touching upon French romance poetry as well, before arriving at the works of Dante and Boccaccio. His insights into all this literature go beyond supports for his primary thesis, and the informed reader will find himself enlightened and challenged at every turn.
Continuing, Auerbach uses an exploration of Rabelais to develop his theme, then turning to Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Cervantes. Not to neglect the Germans, he discusses the works of Schiller before returning to France and Stendhal. This leads almost inevitably to Flaubert, Balzac, and Goncourt, which then brings the text at last to the English modernists.
This summary suggests more of a romp than this long, carefully crafted, deep and thoughtful book actually represents. Its pages are best taken in small bites, carefully chewed and digested — I read only ten pages a day, finding that I needed to ruminate upon and assimilate those pages before I was ready for another meal.
But what a treat it was to be exposed to a mind and to ideas so stimulating, so fresh, and so incisive.
I am so glad that I discovered the book and took the time and effort to immerse myself in it. Sep 21, Leslie rated it it was amazing Shelves: This thing blew my mind. Studying the progressive combination of tragic seriousness with the everyday. We are ever foregrounded in the present. No such thing as flashbacks in the characters’ minds; the narrator leaves aside the present narrative letteraturx tell a past narrative. It is not reailsmo a multi-layered telling as is common in modern fiction but a simple movement on a linear surface line.
W Studying the progressive combination of tragic seriousness with the everyday. With Dante comes the vernacular. With Boccaccio comes the exaggeration of that visceral individuality, the primacy of sensory occidentals and depiction. The World in Pantagruel’s Mouth: Rabelais’ reflection of our world provided by the depiction and commentary of a superior world, which is functionally identical except for the fact that it is aware of ours while ours is ignorant of it.
Idiosyncrasy justified by a changing self reacting to a changing reality. The human condition is contained within the lowest human being and not abstracted into an Everyman. Though Shakespeare has aristocratic tendencies in making only the most socially noble characters tragic, he is the Cosmic Poet because mimessis the interrelatedness of this world he creates and which renews itself with each character.
No shyness to name low things letteeratura high tragedy; all depictions are vividly validated. Even Osric is given individuality despite his being only a plot device.
Shakespearean tragedy is distinct from Greek tragedy on two counts: Everybody exists rightly where they are, including the remarkably intelligent Don Quixote except when his madness strikes him. The strata of societies and there different ways of tealismo have become inextricably mingled. There are no longer even exotic peoples. Beneath the conflicts, and also through them, an economic and cultural leveling process is taking place.
It is still a long way to a common life of mankind on earth, but the goal begins to be visible. Nnella it is most concretely visible now in the unprejudiced, precise, interior and exterior representation of the random moment in occidenttale lives of different people. We read a chapter a month basically and also read whichever book went along with that chapter.
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
I am not sure when we started but it took us a couple of years. Before reading the final chapter and Woolf’s To the Lighthouse we read several other books from around that time frame that were not covered by Auerbach. I would love to do this again some day with other intelligent, well read, interested, and interesting people.
Edizione PBE del E non dipende dal punto di vista in cui mi colloco. Auerbach is the dreamguide in literature. Jan 24, Michel Van Goethem rated it it was amazing. The Representation of Reality in Western Literature by Erich Auerbach – p For many readers, both inside and outside aurrbach academy, Mimesis is among the reallismo works of literary criticism ever written.
A half-century after its translation into English, Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis still stands as a monumental achievement in literary criticism.
A brilliant display of erudition, wit, and wisdom, his exploration of how great European writers from Homer to Virginia Woolf depicted reality h Mimesis: There he wrote Mimesis, publishing it in German after the end of the war.
Apr 22, Katie rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book is encompassing and mind-bending in that specifically unique way that will make some people revere it like a religious text and will drive other people absolutely nuts. As you can see from all the stars I threw at it in my rating, I lean more auuerbach the former camp. And I honestly do believe that reading it will make you a better reader and a better writer. Auerbach’s main theme is the issue of how reality is represented in literature, particularly how a relatively strict separation of styles and classes gave way in slips and bursts towards a more modern sense of realism in which everyday accidentals could be imbued with tragic weight.