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A Refuge of Lies: Reflections on Faith and Fiction

Cesáreo Bandera
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 150
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/j.ctt7zt5bz
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  • Book Info
    A Refuge of Lies
    Book Description:

    Erich Auerbach's seminalMimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literaturewas published more than sixty years ago and is deservedly considered a classic. The book brought into focus the fundamental difference that exists between the two basic approaches to the textual representation of reality in Western culture. These two "styles," as Auerbach called them, were archetypically displayed in Homer's poems and in the Old Testament, respectively. Auerbach's differentiation is the starting point for Bandera's insightful work, which expands and develops on this theory in several key ways. One of the more significant differences between the two styles transcends and grounds all the others. It concerns the truth of each of the two archetypal texts, or rather, the attitude exhibited in those texts with regard to the truth of what they narrate. Auerbach, Bandera notes, is amazed at the Bible's "passionate" concern for the truth of what it says-a concern he found absent in Homer. Bandera finds that what the prophet Isaiah called "a refuge of lies" defines Homer's work. He draws on his own research and René Girard's theory of the sacred to develop an enhanced perspective of the relationship between these texts.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-378-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Prologue
    (pp. vii-viii)

    Strange words, indeed. But not the shocking thing that many people imagine. Christ speaks in universal terms. Let me paraphrase: “The word of God has been revealed to you, but for those outside this revelation everything is in parables, they have been given nothing but parables, fictions. They do not have the meaning beyond the fiction. They see, but do not really see, for they cannot get beyond the letter; they hear, but do not understand. They cannot convert, and have their sins forgiven. For conversion and forgiveness is only through the revelation. Thus he also said to them: “How...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Erich Auerbach’sMimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, published more than sixty years ago, and reprinted more recently in 2003 with an introduction by Edward W. Said, is quite deservedly already a classic. Auerbach brought into high relief the striking and fundamental difference that exists between the two basic approaches to the textual representation of reality in Western culture. These two “styles,” as he called them, were archetypically displayed in Homer’s poems and in the Old Testament respectively: “Since we are using the two styles, the Homeric and the Old Testament, as starting points, we have taken them...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Auerbach’s Mimesis Revisited
    (pp. 17-58)

    Let us begin with Auerbach’s description of what he called “the basic impulse of the Homeric style”:

    To represent phenomena in a fully externalized form, visible and palpable in all their parts, and completely fixed in their spatial and temporal relations. Nor do psychological processes receive any other treatment: here too nothing must remain hidden and unexpressed … a continuous rhythmic procession of phenomena passes by, and never is there a form left fragmentary or half-illuminated, never a lacuna, never a gap, never a glimpse of unplumbed depths.

    And this procession of phenomena takes place in the foreground—that is,...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The “Overwhelming Scourge” and the Iliad
    (pp. 59-76)

    Let us recapitulate: In its prophetic context—that is to say, from the standpoint afforded by God’s prophetic announcement about the establishment of the “tested stone,” the “precious cornerstone” that the “Lord God is laying in Zion for a foundation”—Isaiah’s “overwhelming scourge” acquires universal significance. It points to a widespread social or cultural intuition concerning original violence. In Girardian terms, the “overwhelming scourge” is simply the original mimetic crisis: the collective violence that would have annihilated the human community had it not been expelled and sacralized through the unanimous elimination of the victim-god, the victim who becomes a god...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Simone Weil: Between Homer and Christ
    (pp. 77-100)

    What we have said already about Simone Weil and theIliadshould give us a sense of the depth of her vision. At first sight, though, her view of the Gospels, and in particular Christ, as the culmination of the Greek genius may appear rather preposterous. And I have no doubt that in the end, such a view is indeed seriously mistaken. But that does not mean that the two things bear no relationship with each other, if we manage to look at the relationship from the proper perspective. For I do not think that Homer could have understood Christ...

  8. CHAPTER 4 From Virgil to the Modern Era
    (pp. 101-122)

    If human reason alone had ever had the power to undermine the foundation of the victimage mechanism, pagan religion would have disappeared from Greco-Roman civilization before the arrival of Christianity. But pagan reason never had that power. Philosophy and science developed a parallel existence to that of traditional sacrificial religion without changing anything fundamental about it, because, interestingly, there was a generalized feeling that both pursued the same ultimate goal in different ways. Virgil is perhaps the greatest example of such coexistence.¹ These famous verses in theGeorgicscould summarize this whole attitude:

    Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas,

    atque...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Fiction Desacralized and Don Quixote’s Madness
    (pp. 123-140)

    Let us recapitulate once again. Christ, the Logos incarnate, liberates reason from the rigid confinement in which it had been kept by the victimage mechanism: unable to break free, or simply terrified to even look beyond its walls, as in the case of the tragedians. Christ broke the stranglehold, gave human reason unprecedented confidence in itself as it faced a world created and sustained by a God who was totally trustworthy, did not play tricks on humans, and actually loved them. Christ finished the work begun by the God of faithful and totally trusting Abraham. Furthermore, together with the liberation...

  10. Epilogue
    (pp. 141-144)

    At the end of these reflections on faith and fiction, I think it is appropriate to consider for a moment mimetic theory itself, without which our reflections would not have been possible.

    There is a paradox at the heart of the mimetic theory. On the one hand, the theory says that there is no such thing as an immediate or direct object of desire. There is nothing out there in the world that is desirable in or by itself. Human beings only desire what other human beings desire. As far as human desire is concerned, if there is true, independent...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 145-154)
  12. Index
    (pp. 155-157)