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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The latter must have palpable and clearly expressible reasons for their conflicts and enmities, and these idysseus themselves out in free battles; whereas, with the former, the perpetually smoldering jealousy and the connection between the domestic and the spiritual, between the paternal blessing and the divine blessing, lead to daily life being permeated with the stuff of conflict, often with poison. Despite his treatment of the many major works, Auerbach apparently did sacr think he was comprehensive enough, and apologized in the original publication inexplaining that he had access only to the “insufficient” resources available in the library at Istanbul University where he worked.
Whence he comes, we do not know, hut the goal is clearly stated: Each of the great figures of the Old Testament, from Adam to the prophets, embodies a moment of this vertical connection. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. Auerbach notes here the clarity and orderliness of Homer’s verse, as well as the tidy comparative, causal, and temporal relationships articulated by Homer’s precise syntactical constructions.
One might think that the many interpolations, the frequent moving back and forth, would create a sort of perspective in time and place; but the Homeric style never gives any such impression. Time can touch the latter only outwardly, and even that change is brought to our observation as little as possible; whereas the stern hand of God is ever odsseus.
Sign me up for the newsletter! This was for a long time comparatively easy; as late as the European Middle Ages it was possible to represent Biblical events as ordinary phenomena of contemporary life, the methods of interpretation themselves forming the basis for such a treatment. The elliptical Old Testament stories, on the other hand, open up interpretive spaces that admit figurative readings.
And it was precisely by producing this effect with such power and so much realism that he opened the way for that aspiration toward autonomy which possesses all earthly existence.
Time, History, and Literature | Erich Auerbach | Essays |
Auerbach notes here the clarity and orderliness of Homer’s verse, as well as the tidy comparative, causal, and temporal relationships articulated by Homer’s precise syntactical constructions, all hallmarks of the rhetorical tradition. It examines the differences between the two types of writing about reality as embodied by Homer ‘s Odyssey and the Old Testament. Retrieved from ” https: All this is scrupulously extemalized and narrated in leisurely fashion. 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.
Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed. So it is the biblical style that anticipates the modern notion of character as a layered psychological phenomenon, something that retains an element of inscrutability and is capable of developing over time. His understanding of what might constitute realism is supple and thoroughly historicised: 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.
Even their earlier God of the desert was not fixed in form and content, and was alone; his lack of form, his lack of local habitation, his singleness, was in the end not only maintained but developed even further in competition with the comparatively far more manifest gods of the surrounding Near Eastern world.
By this example of the contrary, we see the significance of the descriptive adjectives and digressions of the Homeric poems; with their indications of the earlier and as it were absolute existence of the persons described, they prevent the reader from concentrating exclusively on a present crisis; even when the most terrible things are occurring, they prevent the establishment of an overwhelming suspense.
His extraordinary erudition and the great edifice of his scholarship can sometimes seem to be expressing an intimate sense of need. Keep up with the SRB. Yet never before has this realism been carried so far; never before — scarcely even in antiquity — has so much art and so much expressive power been employed to produce an almost painfully immediate impression of the earthly reality of human beings.
Odysseus on his return is exactly the same as he was when he left Ithaca two decades earlier. Conversely, what is said is thereby always loaded with meaning, creating an effect of accumulating suspense. Trask Princeton University Press, But they are unmistakably a sort of feudal aristocracy, whose men divide their lives between war, hunting, marketplace councils, and feasting, while the women supervise the maids in the house.
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.
In placing the practice of philology at the centre of the humanities, he conceives of the humanities as an area of inquiry dedicated to the possibility of genuine historical — and by extension cross-cultural — understanding.
In the latter half of the essay, Auerbach switches to a point-by-point comparison of the two works:. It examines the literature of antiquity and the Middle Ages, moving through the contributions of among others Augustine, Dante, Rabelais, Montaigne, Shakespeare and Cervantes, to consider the rise of romanticism and the nineteenth century realists, and conclude with the modernists of the early twentieth century. But she has no life of her own, no feelings of her own; she has only the life and feelings of her master.
For how is the Jewish concept of God to be explained? At the same time, he embraces the relativising implications of historicism, rejecting the idea that the literary work can or should be disconnected from its worldly context.
As a result of this claim to absolute authority, the method of interpretation spread to traditions other than the Jewish.
Odysseus’ scar (Auerbach)
This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3. April Learn how and when to remove this template message. The idea that an event might have a figural as well as a literal meaning allows history to be conceived as something more than a chronicle of happenings. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations.
Auerbach’s Odysseus’ Scar
As an example, he also points out how, with the careful insertion of a flashback “retarding element” term coined by Goethe and Schiller into the middle of the story, Homer creates odysesus relaxing excursion to defer suspense. On the other hand, characters of the Bible like Jacob and Job are irrevocably changed by the trials they undergo.
The ultimate goal, writes Auerbach, is no less than. Their aim is not to bewitch the senses, and if nevertheless they produce lively sensory effects, it is only because the moral, religious, and psychological phenomena which are their sole concern are made concrete in the sensible matter of life.
All cross-currents, all friction, all that is casual, secondary to the main events and themes, everything unresolved, truncated, and uncertain, which confuses the clear progress of the action and the simple orientation of the actors, has disappeared. Homer ‘s Odyssey 8th century BC. The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, generally considered his masterwork.
It was at once momentous and unimportant. It runs far too smoothly. Readers of the Odyssey will remember the well-prepared and touching scene in book 19, when Odysseus has at last come home, the scene in which the old housekeeper Euryclea, who had been his nurse, recognizes him by a scar on scra thigh.
Perhaps as a result of the oral tradition in which Homer’s work were originally created, the characters can be always summed up with a few apt epithets. Furthermore, the two works were written for very different purposes; the Odysseyas a piece of entertainment to “make us forget our wuerbach reality for a few hours,” while the Bibleas religious doctrineto “make us fit our own life into its world.