Tuesday, Dec 20
Ships from: Amazon Sold by: Jay’s Marketing LLC
Other Sellers on Amazon
Follow the Author
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
There is a newer edition of this item:
Enhance your purchase
A 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 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.
"One of the most important and readable books in literary criticism of the past 15 years . . . The author, beginning with Homer and the Bible, traces the imitation of life in literature through the ages . . .touching upon every major literary figure in western culture on the way." ― Publishers Weekly
"One of the great works of literary scholarship. . . . Auerbach's method . . . is to fasten with fastidious sensitivity on some stray phrase or passage in order to unpack from it a wealth of historical insight. It is his combination of scholarly erudition and critical astuteness which is most remarkable."---Terry Eagleton, London Review of Books
"Written with the authority that comes from deep learning and full of information worth knowing. Princeton's 50th anniversary edition of Mimesis has an introduction by the late literary and cultural critic Edward Said that by itself is worth the price of the book. It's the only preface I know of that I wish were longer, serving as both an analysis of Auerbach and a ramework placing him in his scholarly and historical context. . . . Princeton's reissue of Mimesis is both timely and symbolic."---Guy Davenport, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"[Mimesis] offers not just an eminent reading of the Western canon, but a mighty lesson on how to write. . . . I don't think a more significant or useful book of criticism has been written in the half-century since Mimesis was published. What's more, I can't imagine that anything like it will ever be written again. . . . [In] producing such a rich, strong book on how to read, Auerbach composed a virtual manual on how to write, one I've referred back to again and again since the day, almost two decades ago, when I first happened upon it."---Jim Lewis, Slate Magazine
"Written in exile, from what Auerbach called with grave irony his 'incomparable historical vantage point,' Mimesis is a magnificent achievement. For me, as for many others, this hugely ambitious, wise account of the representation of reality in Western literature, at once a celebration and a lament, is one of the essential works of literary criticism."―Stephen Greenblatt
"Every student of literature should know Mimesis, arguably the single greatest work of 20th-century criticism. How do writers―from Homer and Dante to Stendhal and Virginia Woolf―depict the world? To explore this question, Erich Auerbach brings to bear the authority of truly encyclopedic learning and the persuasiveness of a supple, humane literary intelligence. Yes, Mimesis is magisterial, but it is also thrilling to read, inspiring, and more relevant than ever: A masterpiece."―Michael Dirda
- ASIN : 0691012695
- Publisher : Princeton University Press (May 1, 1968)
- Language : English, German
- Paperback : 563 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780691012698
- ISBN-13 : 978-0691012698
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 1 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,972,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
We are apt to think that people are the same wherever and whenever they lived. This is probably a legacy of our democratic, universalistic heritage. It is also what gets us in trouble when we get involved abroad in changing other nations and their societies. Auerbach shows us that humankind is not and has not been alike in its thoughts, aspirations and character but has distinctly changed and varied over time and place.
By closely reading, analyzing and comparing texts of different periods through time, the author demonstrates how the structure of language interacts with the structure of thought, how the way one writes delimits ones vision. This is a more radical thought than its converse that the way we think affects how we write. To Auerbach, an early medieval religious writer, because of the way that Late Latin worked, could not think the way a classical author could. This seems intuitively wrong to a person who has knowledge of one language, but if you have ever tried to translate anything beyond the simplest sentence, you can appreciate what Auerbach means. This is one of those books that stay with you for a lifetime.
Auerbach's approach should be captured in this line. He analysed various Western literary text in the light of form and the social structuer of that time. His point is that we could detect the social structure of that time or totality, in the term of Marxist tradition, not only in content but also in form, or in Auerbach's term, style.