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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Odysseus’ scar (Auerbach)
From these two seminal Western texts, Auerbach builds the foundation for a unified theory of representation that spans the entire history of Western literature, including even the Modernist novelists writing at the time Auerbach began his study. The tyranny of truth: It runs far too smoothly.
To be able to bear with equanimity what happens generally and to us personally we need to have an intimation of a plan for the sake of which and in the light of whose fulfilment chaos becomes a matter of order.
But no less important for Auerbach is the implication of an entirely different conception of ericn. This page was last edited on 12 Aprilat All this is scrupulously extemalized and narrated in leisurely ericn. That Mimesis is, in its own understated way, a work of resistance has often been noted. That gesture is the only gesture, is indeed the only occurrence during the whole journey, of which we are told; and though its motivation lies in the fact that the place is elevated, its uniqueness still heightens the impression that the journey took place through a vacuum; it is as if, while he traveled on, Abraham had looked neither to the right nor odysseus the left, had suppressed any sign of life in his followers and himself save only their footfalls.
But in any case the goal was given, and in any case it is a matter of some sacred spot which was to receive a particular consecration by being connected with Abraham’s sacrifice.
Every character the poet encounters auerbcah his otherworldly journey occupies a fixed position in a universal scheme that exists beyond time. This last observation is true, of course, not only of speeches but of the presentation in general.
The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:. The King James version translates the opening as follows Genesis Indeed, we must go even further.
Writing the history of literature is a paradoxical activity that consists in placing it in historical time and then showing how literature gradually tears itself away from this temporality, creating in turn its own temporality. Since so much in the story is dark and incomplete, and since the reader knows that God is a hidden God, his effort to interpret it constantly finds something new to feed upon. Auerbach shared with many a war-weary European an understandable concern about the ultimate fate of his civilisation.
Moreover the two speakers are not on the same level: Please leave this field empty. We tend to think of literary representations as creative expressions that are symptomatic of the material conditions and the philosophical assumptions of their time — as reflections of a reality rather than something actively constitutive and generative.
Yet Auerbach was too scrupulous a scholar to lapse into anything like crude historical determinism. Meanwhile Odysseus, remembering his scar, moves back out of the light; he knows that, despite his efforts to hide his identity, Euryclea will now recognize him, but he wants at least to keep Penelope in ignorance. Site by Pure and Applied. The two styles, in their opposition, represent basic types: If the text of the Biblical narrative, then, is so greatly in need of interpretation on the basis of its own content, its claim to absolute authority forces it still further in the same direction.
Underlying his critical view is a belief or perhaps it is a hope that if we read literature with sufficient attentiveness and with enough contextualising knowledge, we can move beyond the limiting and relativising perspective of our own time and place.
It examines the differences between the two types of writing about reality as embodied by Homer ‘s Odyssey and the Old Testament.
It auergach at once momentous and unimportant. But it also hints at an underlying tension, for there clearly are some rather large concepts and theoretical issues moving beneath the surface of his detailed investigations like shadows in the water.
Erich Auerbach – New World Encyclopedia
After this opening, God gives his command, and the story itself begins: The idea that an event might have a figural as well oysseus a literal meaning allows history to be conceived as something more than a chronicle of happenings. We do not know. Erich Auerbach November 9, – October 13, was a German philologist and comparative scholar and critic of literature.
The ruling class is still so strongly patriarchal, and still itself so involved in the daily activities of domestic life, that one is sometimes likely to forget their rank. The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here: The rise of Christianity enshrined this dual understanding of reality in the consciousness of the West.
In the early stories of the Old Testament the patriarchal condition is dominant too, but since the people involved are individual nomadic or half-nomadic tribal leaders, the social picture gives a much less stable impression; class distinctions are not felt. Auerbach considered himself a historical perspectivist in the German tradition he mentioned Hegel in this respect extrapolating from specific features of style, grammar, syntaxand diction, claims about much broader cultural and historical questions.
At the same time, he embraces the relativising implications of historicism, rejecting the idea that the literary work can or should be disconnected from eriich worldly context. While the former can be various and arbitrary, multi-layered in its characterization of people and events, the auerbachh is the epitome of detailed, organized, and logical storytelling. In the latter half of the essay, Auerbach switches to a point-by-point comparison of the two works:. He resists any such treatment; the interpretations are forced and foreign, they do not crystallize into a unified doctrine.
The story of Abraham and Isaac is not better established than the story of Odysseus, Penelope, and Euryclea; both are legendary. Even where the legendary does not immediately betray itself by elements of the miraculdus, by the repetition of well-known standard motives, typical patterns and themes, through neglect of clear details of time and place, and the like, it is generally quickly recognizable by its composition.
Auerbach’s legacy is largely built on the influence of his master work. Time can touch the latter odysseuss outwardly, and even that change is brought to our observation as little as possible; whereas the stern hand of God is ever upon.
DeBevoise Harvard University Press, Yet he maintains that a philology of world literature is possible in principle. The old man, of whom we know odyssesu he has become what he is is more of an individual than the young man; for it is only during the course of an eventful life that men are differentiated into full individuality; and it is this history of a personality which the Old Testament presents to us as the formation undergone by those whom God has chosen to be examples. Auerbach contrasts this with the biblical story of Abraham, whom God orders to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
There are a number of interesting aspects to this argument. Furthermore, the two works drich written for very different purposes; the Odysseyas a piece of entertainment to “make us forget our own reality for a few hours,” while the Bibleas religious doctrineto “make us fit our own life into its world.