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. Princeton University mencosulwiemudd.gaption of the book Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature by Auerbach. mencosulwiemudd.ga Erich eating cheap ragnar pdf Auerbach has come to seem to be many things across the literary. erich auerbach mimesis free download.
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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: The Representation of. Reality in Western Literature. ○. ○ Literature is a performance of representation: Writing reflects the . 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.
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 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.
The Representation of Reality in Western Literature - New and Expanded Edition
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. But this perhaps tragic shortcoming of human knowledge and history is one of the unresolved contradictions pertaining to humanism itself, in which the role of thought in reconstructing the past can neither be excluded nor squared with what is "real.
By the early part of the nineteenth century Vieo's work had become tremendously inRuential to European historians, poets, novel ists, and philologists, from Michelet and Coleridge to Marx and, later, Joyce. Moreover, the v INTRODUC T IO N relationship between the reader-critic and the text i s transformed from a one-way interrogation of the historical text by an altogether alien mind at a much later time, into a sympathetic dialogue of two spirits across ages and cul tures who are able to communicate with each other as friendly, respectful spi rits trying to understand each other.
He landed his first academic teaching j ob with a chair at the University of Marburg in ; th is was the result of his Dante book, which in some ways, I think, is his most exciting and intense work. But in addition to learning and study, the heart of the hermeneutical enterprise was, for the scholar, to develop over the years a very particular kind of sympathy toward texts from different periods and different cultures.
Mimesis: the representation of reality in Western literature
The other part of the German Romance philologist's commitment to French, Italian, and Spanish generally and to French in particular is specifically literary. The representation of real ity is Auerbach's theme, so he had to make a judgment as to where and in what literature it was most ably represented.
In the "Epilegomena" he explains that "in most periods the Romance literatures are more representative of Eur ope than are, for example, the German. I think Auerbach scants the substantial Engl ish contribution in all this, perhaps a blind spot in his vision.
As we shall soon sec, he does not specify what those were as he had done in the body of Mimesis, but adds that "for pleasure and relaxation" he still prefers reading Goethe, Stifter, and Keller rather than the French authors he studies, going once as far as saying after a remarkable analysis of Baudelaire that he did not like him at all 57 1.
The great progenitor and clarifier of this extremely catholic, indeed almost altruistic, attitude is Goethe, who in the decade after became fascinated with Islam generally and with Persian poetry in particular.
This was the period when he composed his finest and most intimate love poetry, the West-Ostlicher Diwan , finding in the work of the great Persian poet H afiz and in the verses of the Koran not only a new lyric inspiration allowing him to express a reawakened sense of physical love but, as he said in a letter to his good friend Zeiter, a discovery of how, in the absolute submission to God, he felt himself to be oscillating between two worlds, his own and that of the Musl im bel iever who was miles, even worlds away from European Weimar.
A few months later he was offered a position teaching Romance literatures at the Istanbul State University, where some years before Leo Spitzer had also taught. And even though the book is in many ways a calm affirmation of the unity and dignity of European literature in all its multiplicity and dynamism, it is also a book of countercurrents, ironies, and even contradictions that need to be taken into account for it to be read and understood properly.
Thus for all its redoubtable learning and authority Mimesis is also a personal book, discipli ned yes, but not autocratic, and not pedantic. Consider, first of all, that even though Mimesis is the product of an extraordinarily thorough education and is steeped in an unparalleled inwardness and famil iarity with European culture , it is an exile's book, written by a German cut off from his roots and his native environment.
Auerbach seems not to have wavered, however, in his loyalty to his Prussial1 upbringing or to h is feeling that he always expected to return to Ge rmany. American friends and col1eagues report that until his final il1ness and death in , he was looking for some way to return to Germany.
Nevertheless, after all those years in Istanbul he undertook a new postwar career in the United States, spending time at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and as a professor at Pennsylvania State University, before he went to Yale as Sterl ing Professor of Romance Philology in Auerbach's Jewishness is someth ing one can only speculate about since, in his usually reticent way, he does not refer to it directly in Mimesis.
It is not hard to detect a combination of pride and distance as he describes the emergence of Christianity in the ancient world as the product of prodigious missionary work undertaken by the apostle Paul, a diasporic Jew converted to Christ. So too, he says in a melancholy passage in Mimesis, will collective passions remain the same whether in Roman times or under National Social ism.
Erich Auerbach Mimesis PDF
What makes these meditations so poignant is an autumnal but unmistakably authentic sense of humanistic mission that is both tra gi c and hopeful.
I shall return to these matters later.
I th ink it is qu ite proper to highlight some of the more personal aspects of Mimesis because in many ways it is, and should be read as, an unconventional book. In classical l iterature, Auerbach says, h igh style was used for nobles and gods who could be treated tragically; low style was principally for comic and mundane subjects, perhaps even for idyllic ones, but the idea of everyday human or worJdly life as something to be represented th rough a style proper to it is not generally available before Christianity.
Tacitus, for example, was si mply not interested in talking about or representing the everyday, excellent historian though he was.
The personages speak in the Bible story too; but thei r speech does not serve, as does speech in Homer, to manifest, to external ize thoughts - on the contrary, it serves to indicate thoughts which remain unexpressed. Nelson Lowry Jr.
The point is how you arrive, by what dangers, mistakes, fortuitous encounters, sleeps or sl ips of mind, by what insights achieved through great expense of time and passion and to what hard-won formulations in the face of h istory. As the "Epilegomena" demonstrates, however, Auerbach was adamant if not also fierce in rehutting criticisms of his claims; there is an especially tart exchange with his polymathic Romance colleague Curtius that shows the two formidable scholars slugging it out rather belligerently.
It is not an exaggeration to say that, like Vico, Auerbach was at heart an autodidact, guided in his diverse explorations by a handful of deeply conceived and complex themes with which he wove his ample fabric, which was not seamless or effortlessly spun out.
One major theme turns up al ready in the first chapter - the notion of incarnation - a centrally Christian idea, of course, whose prehistory in Western literature Auerbach ingeniously locates in the contrast between Homer and the Old Testament.
Diametrically opposed is the figure of Abraham, who incarnates "doctrine and promise" and is steeped in them. These are "inseparable from" him and "for that very reason they a re fraught with 'background' and [are mysterious, containing a second, concealed meaning" And this second meaning can only be recovered by a very particular act of interpretation, wh ich, in the main piece of work Auerbach produced in Istanbul before he publish ed Mimesis in , he described as figural interpretation.
Peter Smith , ]. Basically, figural interpretation develops as early Christian thinkers such as Tertullian and Augustine felt impelled to reconcile the Old with the New Testament. Both parts of the Bible were the word of God, but how were they related, how could they be read, as it were, together, given the quite considerable difference between the old Judaic dispensation and the new message emanating from the Christian I ncarnation? The solution arrived at, according to Auerbach, is the notion that the Old Testament prophetically prefigures the New Testament, which in turn can be read as a figural and, he adds, carnal hence incarnate, real, worldly realization or interpretation of the Old Testament.
T he first event or figure is "real and historical announcing something else that is also real and h istorical" Drama of European Literature, At last we begin to see, like interpretation itself, how history does not only move forward but also backward, in each oscillation between eras managing to accompl ish a greater real ism, a more substantial "thickness" to use a term from current anthropological description , a h igher degree of truth.
One last and quite difficult aspect of Figura needs pointing out here. I n this he follows Vico, who looks at the whole of human history and says, "mind made all this," an affirmation that audaciously reaffirms but also to some degree undercuts the religious dimension that gives credit to the Divine.
Certainly it is the finest description we have of the millennial effects of Ch ristianity on literary representation. But Mimesis also glorifies as much as it animates with singular force and individualistic genius, most overtly in the chapters on verbal virtuosity in Dante, Rabelais, and Shakespeare.
As we shall see in a moment, their creativity vies with Cod's in setting the human in a timeless as well as temporal setting. T h ree seminal moments in the trajectory of Mimesis should now be identified in some detail.
Mter having illustrated the insufficiencies of this classical separation of styles into high and low, Auerbach develops a wonderful contrast with that agonizing nocturnal moment in the Gospel of St. Peter is no mere accessory figure serving as illustratio, like the soldiers Vibulenus and Percennius [in Tacitus], who are represented as mere scoundrels and swindlers.
He is the image of man in the highest and deepest and most trag ic sense.
Of course this mingling of styles is not dictated by an artistic purpose. Peter, whose personal account may be assumed to have been the basis of the story, was a fisherman from Galilee, of humblest background and humblest educat ion 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 summarizes his comparison of the texts as follows: 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.
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.
However, by the time Auerbach treats the work of Flaubert we have come full circle.
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.This leads Auerbach to devote most of his discussions to non-classical varieties of mimesis. I th ink it is qu ite proper to highlight some of the more personal aspects of Mimesis because in many ways it is, and should be read as, an unconventional book.
His aim was to show how from antiquity to the twentieth century literature progressed toward ever more naturalistic and democratic forms of representation.
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
By the early part of the nineteenth century Vieo's work had become tremendously inRuential to European historians, poets, novel ists, and philologists, from Michelet and Coleridge to Marx and, later, Joyce. 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.
Gil Girubato Gamesh. Odysseus Scar.
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