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  1. Erich Auerbach Mimesis PDF | Works
  2. Erich Auerbach Mimesis PDF
  3. Mimesis: the representation of reality in Western literature
  4. Mimesis: the representation of reality in Western literature

Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, trans. Willard R. Trask. Princeton, , repr. , chapter one. ODYSSEUS'. to terms was dramatic and confused. 9bserving. it as _it is reflected in. Tolstoi or Dostoevski, we clearly grasp· the savage, tempestuous, and uncompromising. Title, Mimesis: the representation of reality in Western literature / by Erich Auerbach ; translated from the German by Willard R. Trask ; with a new introduction by.

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Auerbach Mimesis Pdf

Erich Auerbach (): Mimesis: The Representation of. Reality in Western Literature. ○. ○ Literature is a performance of representation: Writing reflects the . Certainly this is true of Erich Auerbach's magisterial Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, published by Princeton University Press. Erich auerbach mimesis pdf. Certainly this is true of Erich Auerbachs magisterial. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, published by.

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. 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. This Princeton Classics edition includes a substantial introduction by Edward Said as well as an essay in which Auerbach responds to his critics.

And to my way of thinking, its humanistic example remains an unforgettable one, fifty years after its first appearance in English. Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Bollingen Foundation for the grant made available for translating.

The stranger has won Penelope's good will; at his request she tells the housekeeper to wash his feet, which, in all old stories, is the first duty of hospitality toward a tired traveler. Meanwhile Odysseus, remembering his scar, moves back out of the light; he knows that, despite his efforts to hide his identity, Euryclea will now recognize him, but he wants at least to keep Penelope in ignorance.

No sooner has the old woman touched the scar than, in her joyous surprise, she lets Odysseus' foot drop into the basin; the water spills over, she is about to cry out her joy; Odysseus restrains her with whispered threats and endearments; she recovers herself and conceals her emotion.

All this is scrupulously externalized and narrated in leisurely fashion. The two women express their feelings in copious direct discourse. There is also room and time for orderly, perfectly well-articulated, uniformly illuminated descriptions of implements, ministrations, and gestures; even in the dramatic moment of recognition, Homer does not omit to tell the reader that it is with his right hand that Odysseus takes the old woman by the throat to keep her from speaking, at the same time that he draws her closer to him with his left.

Erich Auerbach Mimesis PDF | Works

Clearly outlined, brightly and uniformly illuminated, men and things stand out in a realm where everything is visible; and not less clear-wholly expressed, orderly even in their ardor-are the feelings and thoughts of the persons involved. The interruption, which comes just at the point when the housekeeper recognizes the scar-that is, at the moment of crisis-describes the origin of the scar, a hunting accident which occurred in Odysseus' boyhood, at a boar hunt, during the time of his visit to his grandfather Autolycus.

Not until then does the narrator return to Penelope's chamber, not until then, the digression having run its course, does Euryclea, who had recognized the scar before the digression began, let Odysseus' foot fall back into the basin.

The digressions are not meant to keep the reader in suspense, but rather to relax the tension. And this frequently occurs, as in the passage before us. The broadly narrated, charming, and subtly fashioned story of the hunt, with all its elegance and self-sufficiency, its wealth of idyllic pictures, seeks to win the reader over wholly to itself as long as he is hearing it, to make him forget what had just taken place during the foot-washing.

But an episode that will increase suspense by retarding the action must be so constructed that it will not fill the present entirely, will not put the crisis, whose resolution is being awaited, entirely out of the reader's mind, and thereby destroy the mood of suspense; the crisis and the suspense must continue, must remain vibrant in the background.

But Homer-and to this we shall have to return later-knows no background. So i t is with the passage before us. When the young E uryclea vv. Yet in both modem and ancient times, there are important epic works which are composed throughout with no "retarding element" in this sense but, on the contrary, with suspense throughout, and which perpetually "rob us of our emotional freedom"-which power Schiller will grant only to the tragic poet.

The effect, to be sure, is precisely that which they describe, and is, furthermore, the actual source of the conception of epic which they themselves hold, and with them all writers decisively influenced by classical antiquity.

Nor do psychological processes receive any other treatment : here too nothing must remain hidden and unexpressed. M uch that is terrible takes place in the Homeric poems, but it seldom takes place wordlessly: Polyphemus talks to Odysseus; Odysseus talks to the suitors when he begins to kill them; Hector and Achilles talk at length, before battle and after; and no speech is so filled with anger or scorn that the particles which express logical and grammatical connections are lacking or out of place.

Erich Auerbach Mimesis PDF

This last observation is true, of course, not only of speeches but of the presentation in general. One might think that the many interpolations, the frequent moving back and forth, would create a sort of perspective in time and place; but the Homeric style never gives any such impression.

To the word scar v. To be sure, in the case of such long episodes as the one we are considering, a purely syntactical connection with the principal theme would hardly have been possible; but a connection with it through perspective would have been all the easier had the content been arranged with that end in view; if, that is, the entire story of the scar had been presented as a recollection which awakens in Odysseus' mind at this particular moment.

And so the excursus does not begin until two lines later, when Euryclea has discovered the scar-the possibility for a perspectivistic connection no longer exists, and the story of the wound becomes an independent and exclusive present. The genius of the Homeric style becomes even more apparent when it is compared with an equally ancient and equally epic style from a different world of forms.

The King James version translates the opening as follows Genesis 2 1 : 1 : " And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said to him, Abraham l and he said, Behold, here I am.

Where are the two speakers? We are not told. Whence does he come, whence does he call to Abraham? Nor are we told anything of his reasons for tempting Abraham so terribly.

He has not, like Zeus, discussed them in set speeches with other gods gathered in council; nor have the deliberations in his own heart been presented to us; unexpected and mysterious, he enters the scene from some unknown height or depth and calls: Abrahaml It will at once be said that this is to be explained by the particular concept of God which the Jews held and which was wholly different from that of the Greeks.

Even their earlier God of the desert was not fixed in form and content, and was alone; his lack of form, his lack of local habitation, his singleness, was in the end not only maintained but developed even further in competition with the comparatively far more manifest gods of the surrounding Near Eastern world. This becomes still clearer if we now tum to the other person in the dialogue, to Abraham. Where is he? We do not know. In this atmosphere it is unthinkable that an implement, a landscape through which the travelers passed, the serving-men, or the ass, should be described, that their origin or descent or material or appearance or usefulness should be set forth in terms of praise; they do not even admit an adjective: they are serving-men, ass, wood, and knife, and nothing else, without an epithet; they are there to serve the end which God has commanded; what in other respects they were, are, or will be, remains in darkness.

That gesture is the only gesture, is indeed the only occurrence during the whole journey, of which we are told; and though its motivation lies in the fact that the place is elevated, its uniqueness still heightens the impression that the journey took place through a vacuum; it is as if, while he traveled on, Abraham had 9 ODY S S E U S , SCAR looked neither to the right nor to the left, had suppressed any sign of life in his followers and himself save only their footfalls.

Thus the journey is like a silent progress through the indeterminate and the contingent, a holding of the breath, a process which has no present, which is inserted, like a blank duration, between what has passed and what lies ahead, and which yet is measured : three daysl Three such days positively demand the symbolic interpretation which they later received. They began "early in the morning. The text says nothing on the subject. Bitter to him is the early morning in which he saddles h is ass, calls his serving-men and his son Isaac, and sets out; but he obeys, he walks on until the third day, then lifts up his eyes and sees the place.

Whence he comes, we do not know, but the goal is clearly stated : Jeruel in the land of Moriah.

What place this is meant to indicate is not clear-"Moriah" especially may be a later correction of some other word. In the narrative itself, a third chief character appears : Isaac. While God and Abraham, the serving-men, the ass, and the implements are simply named, without mention of any qualities or any other sort of definition, Isaac once receives an appositive; God says, "Take Isaac, thine only son, whom thou lovest.

God gives his command in direct discourse, but he leaves his motives and his purpose unexpressed; Abraham, receiving the command, says nothing and does what he has been told to do.

The conversation between Abraham and Isaac on the way to the place of sacrifice is only an interruption of the heavy silence and makes it all the more burdensome.

The two of them, Isaac carrying the wood and Abraham with fire and a knife, "went together. Then the text repeats: "So they went both of them together.

It would be difficult, then, to imagine styles more contrasted than those of these two equally ancient and equally epic texts. Thus, the physical existence is the only existence in Homer, as other perspectives of time are not presented. This, he illustrates with the example of Achilles.

In the bible, on the other hand, Auerbach identifies a shift, a shift towards characters with more depth, more layers of consciousness Furthermore, characters and their actions are more complex in the Bible, because their actions are affected by their previous history and their background in a psychologically more intricate way than possible in Homer 12 , there is actual character development.

Another shift identified by Auerbach, is the mixing of styles.

Mimesis: the representation of reality in Western literature

The mixing of styles is a concept Auerbach repeatedly returns to in his discussion of realism, as it represents a pivotal moment for realism. Auerbach explains that Shakespeare has become the central figure for the rejection of the strict separation of styles in French classicism Tragic scenes are undercut with humour, turning the tragic into a more real matter, using the comical in order to speak Weber!

Tragic actions alternate humorous scenes with common people and everyday activities. Furthermore, Shakespeare mixes styles in terms of involving characters of high and low rank, as well as high and low style in diction, alternating between prose and verse for example, as in Hamlet 3. Dante made vernacular language valuable in a way it had not been appreciated before, for example by using certain words that were not used in literature at the time Auerbach Furthermore, Auerbach observes that the use of comedy generates an alternate form of sublimity and realism, as it allows multiple actions of various genres and tones succeed each other, creating a mingling of interactions and impressions In Dante, Auerbach identifies different kinds of reality.

Dante represents, for Auerbach, a more real reality. Two clowns enter the scene, which takes place in a graveyard. In the beginning of the scene, the gravediggers are the only characters present.

Two commoners are given space and voice. Reality, and so too realism, is object to change throughout time not necessarily because, or simply because, we change our values and the way in which we write, but because the substance and stuff of reality itself changes. Throughout Mimesis we are shown the ways in which literary works are shaped and formed by the dynamics of their time.

Thus, the physical existence is the only existence in Homer, as other perspectives of time are not presented. This, he illustrates with the example of Achilles.

In the bible, on the other hand, Auerbach identifies a shift, a shift towards characters with more depth, more layers of consciousness Furthermore, characters and their actions are more complex in the Bible, because their actions are affected by their previous history and their background in a psychologically more intricate way than possible in Homer 12 , there is actual character development.

Another shift identified by Auerbach, is the mixing of styles. The mixing of styles is a concept Auerbach repeatedly returns to in his discussion of realism, as it represents a pivotal moment for realism. Auerbach explains that Shakespeare has become the central figure for the rejection of the strict separation of styles in French classicism Tragic actions alternate humorous scenes with common people and everyday activities.

Furthermore, Shakespeare mixes styles in terms of involving characters of high and low rank, as well as high and low style in diction, alternating between prose and verse for example, as in Hamlet 3. Dante made vernacular language valuable in a way it had not been appreciated before, for example by using certain words that were not used in literature at the time Auerbach Furthermore, Auerbach observes that the use of comedy generates an alternate form of sublimity and realism, as it allows multiple actions of various genres and tones succeed each other, creating a mingling of interactions and impressions In Dante, Auerbach identifies different kinds of reality.

Mimesis: the representation of reality in Western literature

Dante represents, for Auerbach, a more real reality. Two clowns enter the scene, which takes place in a graveyard. In the beginning of the scene, the gravediggers are the only characters present. Two commoners are given space and voice. Later, they will interact with Hamlet himself, mixing the sublime with the low, the high status of a prince with the low status of simple gravediggers.

Furthermore, the gravediggers are discussing matters such as equality, corruption and society, subjects usually not assigned characters of lower classes.

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