Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature - New and Expanded Edition

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Princeton University Press, Oct 6, 2013 - Literary Criticism - 616 pages

More than half a century after its translation into English, Erich Auerbach's Mimesis remains a masterpiece of 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. 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.


A German Jew, Auerbach was forced out of his professorship at the University of Marburg in 1935. 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.

 

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User Review  - JayLivernois - LibraryThing

An iconic but really unreadable work that I think point to the current dissolution of literature and the higher education of literature; a kind of writing that portends to say much but in the end says ... Read full review

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User Review  - nbmars - LibraryThing

This book is extremely difficult. In each chapter, Auerbach compares two texts. Usually at least one of the texts is in another language besides English, and many of the points he makes have to do ... Read full review

Contents

1 Odysseus Scar
3
2 Fortunata
24
3 The Arrest of Peter Valvomeres
50
4 Sicharius and Chramnesindus
77
5 Roland Against Ganelon
96
6 The Knight Sets Forth
123
7 Adam and Eve
143
8 Farinata and Cavalcante
174
13 The Weary Prince
312
14 The Enchanted Dulcinea
334
15 The Faux Dévot
359
16 The Interrupted Supper
395
17 Miller the Musician
434
18 In the Hôtel de la Mole
454
19 Germinie Lacerteux
493
20 The Brown Stocking
525

9 Frate Alberto
203
10 Madame Du Chastel
232
11 The World in Pantagruels Mouth
262
12 LHumaine Condition
285
Epilogue
554
Appendix
559
Index
575
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About the author (2013)

Erich Auerbach, before his death in 1957, was Sterling Professor of Romance Languages at Yale University.

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