Odysseus’ Scar. AUTHOR: Erich Auerbach. SOURCE: Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western. Literature. PUBLISHER: Princeton University Press. The Homeric Style, “Odysseus’ Scar” Erich Auerbach, Mimesis. Note, for example, that Homer can never let us be in doubt about anything involving Odysseus. By far the most frequently reprinted chapter is chapter one, “Odysseus’ Scar,” in which Auerbach compares the.
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Whatever revelation it may ultimately have in store for us must remain inaccessible, so long as we remain trapped etich a reality that conspicuously refuses to reveal its providential meaning and resolve itself in a coherent fashion.
With the more profound historicity and the more profound social activity of the Old Testament text, there is connected yet another important distinction from Homer: Unlike Homer’s style, in which everything is illuminated, the Elohist leaves unsaid any detail that does not pertain to the story’s purpose.
Bitter to him is the early morning in which he saddles his ass, calls his serving-men and his son Isaac, and sets out; but he obeys, he walks on until the third day, then lifts up his eyes and sees the place. Poet of the Secular Worldin which he compares the deaths of Socrates and Jesus. On the other hand, whether or not the Bible is used for its original purpose has everything to do with its perceived relation to truth. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.
And that is still a comparatively simple case. Everything is explained and externalised; nothing is allowed to remain obscure. Even Odysseus, in whose odyysseus the long lapse of time and the many events which occurred offer so much opportunity for biographical development, shows almost nothing of it.
Odysseus’ scar (Auerbach)
There is also room and time for orderly, eeich well-articulated, uniformly illuminated descriptions of implements, ministrations, and gestures; even in the dramatic moment of recognition, Homer does not omit to tell the reader that it is with his right hand that Odysseus takes the old woman by the throat to keep her from speaking, at the same time that he draws her closer to him with his left.
Highlighting the psychological transparency and consistency of the characters in the Odyssey as against what he regards as the psychological depth of the figures in the Old Testament, Auerbach suggests that the Old Testament gives a more historical impression than the Odyssey, which he classifies as closer to legend in which all details are leisurely fleshed out and all actions occur in a simple present—indeed even flashbacks are narrated in the present tense.
Mimesis gives an account of the way in which everyday life in its seriousness has been represented by many Western writers, from ancient Greek and Roman writers Petronius, early Christian writers such as AugustineRenaissance writers BoccaccioMontaigneand Rabelais, Shakespeare and Cervantes, Enlightenment writers such as Voltaireeighteenth and nineteenth century writers StendhalBalzacFlaubertand Zola, all the way up to nineteenth and twentieth century writers such as Proust and Woolf.
It is an expansive view, the implications of which become ever more inclusive. The story of Abraham and Isaac is not better established than the story of Odysseus, Penelope, and Euryclea; both are legendary.
Furthermore, the two works were written for very different purposes; the Odysseyas a sca of entertainment to “make scr forget our own reality for a few hours,” while the Bibleas religious doctrineto “make us fit our own life into its world.
But their religious intent involves an absolute claim to historical truth. Euryclea busies herself fetching water and mixing cold with hot, meanwhile speaking sadly of her absent master, who is probably of the same age as the guest, and who perhaps, like the guest, is even now wandering somewhere, a stranger; and she remarks how astonishingly like him the guest looks.
Indeed, we must go even further.
The Odyssey is told like a legend; it is a little too convenient, too streamlined a narrative, and its characters are all “clearly outlined” men with “few and simple motives. For this reason, Auerbach believes the traditional allegorical or “figurative” interpretations of the Bible lose all sense of the book’s “earthy” portrayals.
The entirely different ways of developing conflicts are enough to account for this. In contrast, the general, which compares, compiles, or differentiates phenomena, ought to be elastic and flexible; to the utmost that this is possible, it ought to fall into line with what is feasible from case to case, and it is to be understood from case to case only from the context.
While at Yale, he supervised the doctoral work of Fredric Jameson, noted Marxist literary critic. All other scenes, issues, and ordinances have no right to appear independently of it, and it is promised that all of them, the history of all mankind, will be given their due place within its frame, will be subordinated to it.
Fraught with their development, sometimes even aged to the verge of dissolution, they show a distinct stamp of individuality entirely foreign to the Homeric heroes.
Erich Auerbach – New World Encyclopedia
The two works were odyzseus for very different purposes; the Odyssey, as a piece of entertainment, aims only to “make us forget our own reality for a few hours,” while the Bible, as religious doctrine, tyrannically seeks to “make us fit our own life into its world.
With the rise of National Socialism, however, Auerbach was forced to vacate his position in In the Old Testament stories the peace of daily life in the house, in the fields, and among the flocks, is undermined by jealousy over election and the promise of a blessing, and complications arise which would be utterly incomprehensible to the Homeric heroes. Truth has no bearing on the relevance of Homer’s stories, because the stories are “realistic” enough to be self-sufficient in their own copy of reality.
The Representation of Reality in Western Literaturetrans. Abraham obeys without question.
Odysseus’ scar (Auerbach) – Wikipedia
While the former can be various and arbitrary, multilayered in its characterization of people and events, the latter is the epitome of detailed, organized and logical storytelling informed by the rhetorical tradition. The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, generally considered his masterwork.
We shall go into these later changes in the antique representation of reality when the occasion arises; on the whole, despite them, the basic tendencies of the Homeric style, which we have attempted to work out, remained effective and determinant down into late antiquity.
The poor beggar Odysseus is only masquerading, but Adam is really cast down, Jacob really a refugee, Joseph really in the pit and then a slave to be bought and sold. A consideration of the Elohistic text teaches us that our term is capable of a broader and deeper application.