Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature

Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature

Erich Auerbach Willard R. Trask / Feb 22, 2020

Mimesis The Representation of Reality in Western Literature 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 V

  • Title: Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
  • Author: Erich Auerbach Willard R. Trask
  • ISBN: 0691012695
  • Page: 365
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 There is no other work in contemporary literary criticism known to me that is comparableErich 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 There is no other work in contemporary literary criticism known to me that is comparable in scope, in analytical and historical richness it is actually a history of European literature from the Odyssey to Ulysses and shows a quiet mastery of all the literatures of the West I can never pick up this book without learning from it and without marveling at the penetration with which Auerbach s handling of his subject the different forms by which the great European writers have shaped their ideas of reality lead him to a new understanding of all postclassical literature Alfred Kazin, American Scholar

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    About "Erich Auerbach Willard R. Trask"

      • Erich Auerbach Willard R. Trask

        German philologist Erich Auerbach served as professor of Romance philology at Marburg University 1929 35 , taught at the Turkish State University in Istanbul 1936 47 , and became professor of French and Romance philology at Yale University in 1950 He published several books and many papers on Dante, Medieval Latin literature, methods of historical criticism, and the influence of Christian symbolism on literature He is best known for Mimesis, a volume on literary criticism written in Turkey, first published in Berne, Switzerland in 1946, and subsequently widely translated.


    1. 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.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 [...]

    2. 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.

    3. Fleeing the Nazis in 1935, 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 wit [...]

    4. Studying the progressive combination of tragic seriousness with the everyday.Odysseus' Scar: We are ever foregrounded in the present. No such thing as flashbacks in the characters' minds; the narrator leaves aside the present narrative to tell a past narrative. It is not therefore a multi-layered telling (as is common in modern fiction) but a simple movement on a linear surface line. progressive awareness of social strata, the backgrounded figural meaning, etc Farinate and Cavalcante: With Dante [...]

    5. I read this in a reading/discussion group with Dr. Richard Stivers, Dr. James Van Der Laan, Rochelle Stivers, and Brian Simpson while in Normal at ISU and finished 18 months after moving to Urbana.We read a chapter a month (basically) and also read whichever book went along with that chapter. 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 b [...]

    6. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literatureby Erich Auerbach 1946 - 573 p For many readers, both inside and outside the academy, Mimesis is among the finest works of literary criticism ever writtenA 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 [...]

    7. 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 towards the former camp. I can very much understand why/how someone would wind up disagreeing with Auerbach's thesis (and even more so with his methodology in getting there), but at the same time this book has such an open, ambitious, and kind of [...]

    8. Esse livro é simplesmente maravilhoso. Se você é "de humanas" mas por algum motivo tem um problema com "os clássicos", acho que é uma boa entrada, tão empolgante é a análise. Quando algo que não tinha lido era discutido, me dava vontade de ler; quando já conhecia o material, era muito gratificante. É testemunho da qualidade artística do próprio livro que ele é uma tentativa de propor e demonstrar algumas teses sobre o que vem a ser a representação da realidade na literatura ocide [...]

    9. I may or may not return to this; I only I had to read selected chapters for a class: the chapters on Odysseus and the Hebrew Bible, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Don Quixote, and the last three (18 and 19, whose starting points are Stendhal and Edmond and Jules de Goncourt’s Germinie Lacerteux respectively, are more or less surveys of 18th century French Romanticism and emerging realism, touching also upon Balzac, Flaubert, and Zola; 20 looks at Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, while also look [...]

    10. A biggun' in literary criticism. Auerbach's book is a series of discussions about discrete works, progressing from Homer to Virginia Woolf. I felt like I was prepared to dive into this book based on my high-school curriculum and some more recent "Great Books" remedial reading (Dante). The book doesn't so much lay out a theory of literary criticism, but instead provides examples of how Auerbach reads and thinks about reading. He stays very close to the text of every work he selects, so you won't [...]

    11. Me gustó mucho cómo describe las diferencias estilísticas de los textos homéricos y los bíblicos. La Biblia la leí 3 veces (bah, 2, la primera fue una versión abreviada), pero hace mucho, cuando estaba decidiendo mis creencias. Siempre quise releerla como a un relato épico-religioso.Capítulo 1 - La cicatriz de Ulises.IntertextualidadMenciones directas:* "To His Coy Mistress" de Andrew Marvell (Inglaterra, ca. 1650) (cita, epígrafe).* La Odisea de Homero (Grecia, s. VIII a.C.).* La Ilí [...]

    12. Every essay I've read so far has been really interesting (which is only three). I've enjoyed the first one "Odysseus's Scar" the most. I'd never really thought to look at the Bible's narrative structure in contrast to Homer (I mean, why would I?) but I found the patterns that he pointed out were actually really useful in thinking about fiction (and the back and forth in the way people think about fiction over the centuries, ie: the stuff I studied for Comps). For a theory book especially, this i [...]

    13. Reading and thinking about Ranciere's Aisthesis has led me to return to Auerbach's Mimesis, which I read many years ago, and this reaffirms my intuition that Mimesis is still the pinnacle of literary criticism/history/theory/whatever you want to call it.

    14. Autore: tedesco (1892-1957). Saggio critica letteraria. Edizione PBE del 1975.E’ uno di quei testi che annullano il concetto di tempo relativo.Dimostra che certi scritti sono legati solo al tempo “giovane”. Il tempo “maturo” ha più riferimenti, informazioni, ma perde in elasticità e concentrazione.E non dipende dal punto di vista in cui mi colloco. L’oggettività è una fregatura.Ogni tanto (ogni tanto) ravano un po’ sugli scaffali. Lo chiamo togliere la polvere o riordino, così [...]

    15. "If the text of the Biblical narrative, then, is so greatly in need of interpretation on the basis of its own content, its claim to absolute authority forces it still further in the same direction. Far from seeking, like Homer, merely to make us forget our own reality for a few hours, it seeks to overcome our reality: we are to fit our own life into its world, feel ourselves to be elements in its structure of universal history. This becomes increasingly difficult the further our historical envir [...]

    16. The title, Mimesis, is very insightful just by itself. The idea put forth by Auerbach is that literature is an imitation of the contemporary society from which it was spawned. The protagonist's feelings, mental agility, ability to think beyond the foreground is all very well "painted" in the literature itself. In reading reviews of Mimesis, I came across Benjamin Walter's 1953 analysis of the book, in which he makes a comparison between Plato's skeptical and hostile feelings toward mimesis (read [...]

    17. I wish I had more time and intelligence at my disposal to fully drink from Auerbach's well. His analysis and comparison of various literary texts and what it reveals about the societies that produced them yield enormous fruit, with much of it out of my reach. My only complaint is that, while he draws great insights out of Biblical texts, he is unnecessarily polemical in ways that are not important to his argument. For example, when discussing Genesis he talks of 'The Elohist writes' (referring t [...]

    18. La erudición de Erich Aurebach en las lenguas románicas se demuestra en este libro que busca explorar los orígenes de la tradición literaria —y de la forma en que se ha escrito sobre la realidad— en Occidente. El ambicioso análisis comprende más de 3 mil años de textos y está articulado por una comparativa que va desde la antigüedad clásica al modernismo; es decir, desde Homero, la Biblia, algunos historiadores romanos, San Agustín, Bocaccio, Dante, Rabelais, Cervantes, Shakespear [...]

    19. Auerbach tracks the development of realism in Western literature from Homer to the twentieth century novel, highlighting the style of the gospels and the thought of Christianity as the decisive influence in the move away from the classical style to the concern with the inner world and the lower classes evinced in later Western literature. While there are aspects of Auerbach's analysis that can be debated, his overall argument is sound and I believe he demonstrates his thesis. This book is partic [...]

    20. Not only a monument of literary criticism, but one of the most thrilling adventures of the mind, ever-- EA traces the development of the "representation of reality" from Homer and the Old Testament to twentieth century writers. Two chapters were particularly illuminating, the one on Dante which deals with the Farinata/Cavalcante Episode and the initial chapter which is a comparative study of mimetic techniques in Homer and the Book of Genesis. Edward Said's introduction is also very good; he pla [...]

    21. One of the greatest works of criticism in the 20th century and he did it without almost any access to books, notes, or anything else. The part on Odysseus's scar is legendary (excuse the pun.) This man loved books and so he ingested them for future reference. His commitment to reading closely for the details that shine is something all too lost in most of today's quickreads.

    22. This was why I read Mimesis. I sure am glad I did. It's only been a few years now, but it's probably time I read it again.

    23. Only read the first chapter, 'Odysseus' Scar', a brilliant essay about differing representations of reality in Homer's 'Odyssey' and the Old Testament.

    24. Ένα πολύ απαιτητικό βιβλίο που απαιτεί γνώση της ευρωπαϊκής λογοτεχνίας. Μόλις το ολοκληρώσεις, είσαι διαφορετικός άνθρωπος.

    25. Antes que nada aclaro que leí este libro sabiendo que no había leído una buena parte de los textos a los que hace referencia Auerbach, pero que de todos modos me serviría de brújula para orientarme más adelante. Al terminarlo, me resultó equiparable aLa historia del arte de Gombrich y ahora explico por qué. Calculo que, de todos modos, voy a volver a cruzarme con él durante la cursada en Letras para estudiar algún texto en particular.Cuando descubrí el libro, el tema me pareció fasci [...]

    26. Auerbach realiza una gran aportación al estudio de la mímesis en la literatura. El primer capítulo arranca con Homero. "La cicatriz de Ulises" representa la estrategia de los textos épicos en los que el poeta se esfuerza por aclarar todas las dimensiones del relato, como si tuviera miedo a que el lector fuera a perderse. Los diálogos, por ejemplo, hacen referencia únicamente a los elementos que se encuentran en la escena, como si no existiera un tiempo y un lugar ajeno a la representación [...]

    27. Auerbach, Erich. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western LiteratureThis tightly-packed volume (579 pages in my paperback edition) is a comprehensive survey of the landmarks in Western fiction, from Virgil’s the Odyssey to Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. As Auerbach himself admits towards the end of his book he has had to be severely restricted by the enormous task, being ‘guided by a few motifs’ and by trying them out ‘on a series of texts.’ For, as he goes on to say, [...]

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