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 within a reality that conspicuously refuses to reveal its providential meaning and resolve itself in a coherent fashion. At this point in the narrative, there is a long digression that explains how Odysseus came to have the scar a hunting accident and how Euryclea is aware of this because she has known him since he auernach young.

Auerbach’s work, like the Formalists and the New Critics, helped to change the face of literary criticismfocusing the critical endeavor on a close reading and scrutiny of texts and how they came into existence, rather than the author’s psychology or the contemporaneous historical and social issues addressed by the text.

The author as exception and the text as unattainable infinite have been declared consubstantial with the very definition of literary activity …. This page was last edited on 12 Aprilat Auerbach considered himself a historical perspectivist in the German auerbadh he mentioned Hegel in this respect scae from specific features of style, grammar, syntaxand diction, claims about much broader cultural and historical questions.

The historical event which we witness, or learn from the testimony of those who witnessed it, runs much scat variously, contradictorily, and confusedly; not until it has produced results in a definite domain are we able, with their help, to classify it to a certain extent; and how often the order to which we think we have attained becomes doubtful again, how often we ask ourselves if the data before us have not led us to a far too simple classification of the original events!

Nor does the concern with the representation of reality extend to Auerbach positing an objective standard against which individual works might be judged as more or less realistic. For David is absent from the battlefield; but the influence of his will and his feelings continues frich operate, they affect even Joab in his rebellion and disregard scag the consequences of his actions; in the magnificent scene with the two messengers, both the physical and psychological background is fully manifest, though the latter is never expressed.

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But their religious intent involves an absolute claim to historical truth. While the former can be various and arbitrary, multilayered in its characterization of people and ericj, the latter is the epitome of detailed, organized and logical storytelling informed by the rhetorical tradition.

Erich Auerbach – New World Encyclopedia

auerbbach For this reason, individual chapters of the book are often read independently. Unlike Homer’s style, in which everything is illuminated, the Elohist leaves unsaid any detail that does not pertain to the story’s purpose. So the long-term effect of the concept of a divinely ordained universal history, and the antagonism between appearance and reality it engenders, is to throw us back upon the elementary fact of our worldly existence.

In placing the practice of philology at the centre of the humanities, he conceives of the humanities as an area of inquiry dedicated to auerbzch possibility of genuine historical — and by extension cross-cultural — understanding.

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. As a result of this claim to absolute authority, the method of odysseus spread to traditions other than the Jewish.

Auerbach’s Odysseus’ Scar

After participating as a combatant in World War Ihe earned a doctorate in and inbecame a member of the philology faculty at the University of Marburg, publishing a well-received study entitled, Dante: Although he acknowledged that both works exercised an enormous influence over subsequent Western literature, Auerbach held that the true motivation behind the representations of reality in both the Bible and the Odyssey lay outside aesthetic considerations.

Abraham obeys without question. It would be difficult, then, to imagine styles more contrasted than those of these two equally ancient and equally epic texts. We find the same contrast if we compare the two uses auerbadh direct discourse. 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.

In the narrative itself, a third chief character auerbaxh Some scholars maintain, instead, that the poetry rather than the prose of the Old Testament would be more appropriate for comparison to Homer’s verse.

Erich Auerbach

And this frequently occurs, as in the passage before us. 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 odywseus the present tense.

With the more profound historicity and the more profound social activity of the Old Testament text, there is connected yet another important distinction from Auerbac We do not know.


So it is with the passage before us. But what a road, what a fate, lie between the Jacob who cheated his father out of his blessing and the old man whose favorite son has odysseuus torn to pieces by a wild beast!

As an example, he 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 a relaxing excursion to defer suspense. If the text of odyssseus 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. The text says nothing on the subject. For Homerit lay in the desire of the poet to “represent phenomena in a fully externalized form, visible and palpable in all their parts.

By keeping the focus always on the present narrative, the “procession of phenomena” that Homer presents auerhach remains illuminated in the foreground, even as the story itself jumps back and forth between times and locations. But no less important for Auerbach is the implication of an entirely different conception of history. My effort for exactitude relates to the individual and the concrete.

The latter must have palpable and clearly expressible reasons for their conflicts and enmities, and these work themselves out in free battles; whereas, with the former, the perpetually smoldering jealousy and akerbach connection between the domestic and the spiritual, erifh the paternal blessing and the divine blessing, lead to daily life being permeated with the stuff of conflict, often with poison.

The genius of the Homeric style becomes even more apparent when it is compared with an odysaeus ancient and equally epic style from a different world of forms.

Thus while, on the one hand, the reality of the Old Testament presents itself as complete truth with a claim to sole authority, on the other hand that very claim forces it to a constant interpretative change in its own content; for millennia it undergoes an incessant and active development with the life of man in Europe. Encoded in these contrasting narrative styles, argues Auerbach, are fundamentally different ways of representing and therefore understanding reality.

The Odyssey is told like a legend; it is a little too scad, too streamlined a narrative, and its characters are all “clearly outlined” men with “few and simple motives.