AUERBACH MIMESIS THE REPRESENTATION OF REALITY IN WESTERN LITERATURE PDF

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. 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.

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Auerbach sees the Bible as opposing this rhetorical doctrine in its serious and poignant portrayals of common folk and their encounter with the divine. As Auerbach notes in chapter two when discussing the New Testament: But the spirit of rhetoric—a spirit which classified subjects in genera and invested every subject with a specific form of style as one garment becoming it in virtue of its nature [i.

It is too serious for comedy, too contemporary and everyday for tragedy, politically too insignificant for history—and the form which was given it is one of such immediacy that its like does not exist in the literature of antiquity. This mixture ultimately leads to a "popular realism" seen in the religious plays and sermons of the 12th Century. 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.

Critical reception[ edit ] 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.

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.

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. By the time Auerbach treats the work of Flaubert , he has come full circle.

Modern Language Association.

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Mimesis : the representation of reality in Western literature

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. 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.

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Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature

Mar 02, Bruce rated it it was amazing Fleeing the Nazis in , the 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 Literature, a 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 in , the 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 Literature, a 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.

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Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature

Auerbach sees the Bible as opposing this rhetorical doctrine in its serious and poignant portrayals of common folk and their encounter with the divine. As Auerbach notes in chapter two when discussing the New Testament: But the spirit of rhetoric—a spirit which classified subjects in genera and invested every subject with a specific form of style as one garment becoming it in virtue of its nature [i. It is too serious for comedy, too contemporary and everyday for tragedy, politically too insignificant for history—and the form which was given it is one of such immediacy that its like does not exist in the literature of antiquity. This mixture ultimately leads to a "popular realism" seen in the religious plays and sermons of the 12th Century.

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