Guide Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (Princeton Classics)

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Spara som favorit. Skickas inom vardagar. More than half a century after its translation into English, Erich Auerbach's Mimesis remains a masterpiece of literary criticism.


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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 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. This development of an intermediate and then ultimately another "mixed style" Shakespeare, Hugo leads to what Auerbach calls the "modern realism" of the nineteenth-century see chapter eighteen on Flaubert. Auerbach champions writers during periods under the sway of rhetorical forms of writing like Gregory of Tours and St. Francis of Assisi , whose Latin was poor and whose rhetorical education was minimal, but who were still able to convey vivid expression and feeling. He also champions the diarist Saint-Simon who wrote about the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century French court.

Mimesis is almost universally respected for its penetrating insights on the particular works it addresses but is frequently criticized for what is sometimes regarded as its lack of a single overarching claim. For this reason, individual chapters of the book are often read independently. Most critics praise his sprawling approach for its reveling in the complexities of each work and epoch without resorting to generalities and reductionism.

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ISBN 13: 9780691160221

Highlighting the rhetorically determined simplicity of characters in the Odyssey what he calls the "external" against what he regards as the psychological depth of the figures in the Old Testament , Auerbach suggests that the Old Testament gives a more powerful and historical impression than the Odyssey , which he classifies as closer to "legend" in which all details are leisurely fleshed out and all actions occur in a simple present — indeed even flashbacks are narrated in the present tense.

The two styles, in their opposition, represent basic types: on the one hand [ The Odyssey 's] fully externalized description, uniform illustration, uninterrupted connection, free expression, all events in the foreground, displaying unmistakable meanings, few elements of historical development and of psychological perspective; on the other hand [in the Old Testament], certain parts brought into high relief, others left obscure, abruptness, suggestive influence of the unexpressed, "background" quality, multiplicity of meanings and the need for interpretation, universal-historical claims, development of the concept of the historically becoming, and preoccupation with the problematic.


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  • Auerbach concludes by arguing that the "full development" of these two styles, the rhetorical tradition with its constraints on representing reality and the Biblical or "realist" tradition with its engagement of everyday experience, exercised a "determining influence upon the representation of reality in European literature. It is in the context of this comparison between the Biblical and the Homeric that Auerbach draws his famous conclusion that the Bible's claim to truth is "tyrannical," since.

    What he [the writer of the Old Testament] produced then, was not primarily oriented towards "realism" if he succeeded in being realistic, it was merely a means, not an end : it was oriented to truth. However, by the time Auerbach treats the work of Flaubert we have come full circle.


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    • Like the Biblical writers whose faith in the so-called "tyrannical" truth of God produces an authentic expression of reality, Flaubert's "faith in the truth of language" ch. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

      ISBN 13: 9780691160221

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