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
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.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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