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Time, History, and Literature: Selected Essays of Erich Auerbach Hardcover – November 24, 2013
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Important essays from one of the giants of literary criticism, including a dozen published here in English for the first time
Erich Auerbach (1892-1957), best known for his classic literary study Mimesis, is celebrated today as a founder of comparative literature, a forerunner of secular criticism, and a prophet of global literary studies. Yet the true depth of Auerbach's thinking and writing remains unplumbed. Time, History, and Literature presents a wide selection of Auerbach's essays, many of which are little known outside the German-speaking world. Of the twenty essays culled for this volume from the full length of his career, twelve have never appeared in English before, and one is being published for the first time.
Foregrounded in this major new collection are Auerbach's complex relationship to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, his philosophy of time and history, and his theory of human ethics and responsible action. Auerbach effectively charts out the difficult discovery, in the wake of Christianity, of the sensuous, the earthly, and the human and social worlds. A number of the essays reflect Auerbach's responses to an increasingly hostile National Socialist environment. These writings offer a challenging model of intellectual engagement, one that remains as compelling today as it was in Auerbach's own time.
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"The 20 essays collected here--many of them translated from the German for the first time--bear out editor Porter's contention that Auerbach (1892-1957), best known for his literary study Mimesis, was one of the 20th century's great literary critics. . . . Those well-versed in comparative literature will find his insights stimulating." ― Publishers Weekly
"Editor Porter purposefully organizes Auerbach's writings . . . in order to sketch a historical panorama of erudite language to predictions for future literary invention. He skillfully accomplishes these goals by drawing out examples of Auerbach's writing focused on humans and their language as earthly (irdisch) artifacts, each created with a historical perspective, not just as poetic language steeped in spiritual motifs alone. . . . [S]uited for literary theorists writing from disparate paradigms and for most scholars from the humanities engaged in granularly close readings pursuing the understanding of writing as one of many human creations." ― Library Journal
"For scholar and non-academic alike, this work is of extreme importance, especially given the relatively scanty number of works available on such a key figure to the development of the study of comparative literature."---Lois Henderson, BookPleasures.com
"This collection will be invaluable to anyone studying literary theory, historiography, or cultural studies." ― Choice
"The publication of Time, History, and Literature: Selected Essays of Erich Auerbach provides an excellent opportunity to witness a master philologist at work."---Joseph Epstein, Weekly Standard
"[A] career-spanning collection that includes several essays which are appearing in English for the first time. . . . [E]xcellent introduction. . . . One of the most valuable aspects of this volume is that these essays set out . . . the extent of Auerbach's intellectual debt to Vico, whom he credits as the first methodical theorist of history. . . . The densely written, subtle essays towards the end of Time, Literature, and History . . . are models of careful scholarly contextualization and analysis."---James Ley, Sydney Review of Books
"It would be more accurate to say, then, that Auerbach did not fight against the German philological tradition but rather fought over it, so as to integrate it with the wider Western European tradition and its humanistic legacy. The essays in this excellent edition alongside Mimesis attest that he accomplished that mission to perfection."---Joseph Mali, European Legacy
"At last, a book that exposes the audacity of Auerbach's philosophical anthropology. Thanks to her deep understanding of the nuances of German, Jane Newman skillfully captures the intricate rhythms and verbal creativity of Auerbach's prose. James Porter, meanwhile, shows us the hidden genius of Auerbach as a thinker who reveals the beauty and terror of history and the people who make it."―Stephen G. Nichols, James M. Beall Professor Emeritus of French and Humanities, Johns Hopkins University
"The brilliant, innovative, and eminently sophisticated essays in this vitally important and long-overdue book demonstrate not only the breadth of Auerbach's erudition, but also the continued relevance of his work for literary scholars today. A stunning achievement."―John Hamilton, Harvard University
- Publisher : Princeton University Press (November 24, 2013)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0691137110
- ISBN-13 : 978-0691137117
- Item Weight : 1.25 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1.25 x 9.5 inches
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The significance of these essays is that they both foreshadow, and follow on from, the above-mentioned text, so that they comprehensively reflect Auerbach’s development as a thinker and philosopher. The focus throughout the essays included here is on the linkage between different forms of language, and on the transformation of the Western world by means of human intellectual conception, perception, and action. Rather than arranging the essays chronologically, Porter has opted for organizing them into three main themes: history and the philosophy of history: Vico, Herder, and Hegel; time and temporality in literature; and passionate subjects, from the Bible to secular modernity. Porter’s introduction likewise does great justice to the subtlety and nuances of Auerbach’s writings by pointing out how they embody and exemplify the author’s worldview, fundamental to which was his complex relationship to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, leading to his profoundly moral and ethical stance on the whole of human history.
Considerable care has been taken, in translation, to retain the intent and the meaning of the original work. Professor Jane O. Newman, a colleague of Porter, and the translator of these essays, who is lauded by her students in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine for her intelligence and passionate commitment to her work, spent her undergraduate years at Yale, and her postgraduate years at Princeton. She shows her intense interest in this work through the sincerity of the effort that she has put into her translation. As she states, “I have tried to capture Auerbach’s insights into the way literary texts themselves work and his methodological interventions into how we read them as accurately as possible.” While consulting some of the existing translations, when available, she has done so in such a way as to assimilate the most worthy, and to reformulate their wording and expression where she has found it desirable, and necessary, to do so.
For scholar and non-academic alike, this work is of extreme importance, especially given the relatively scanty number of works available on such a key figure to the development of the study of comparative literature.
"At the end of the day, Auerbach will emerge with the distinction he deserves, as one of the more consistently profound and breathtaking cultural thinkers of the twentieth century. We are only now in a position to begin to appreciate what his thought has to offer."
Prof. Porter's introductory essay is the best thing I've read about Auerbach, making this a rare collection whose editor is worthy of his subject.