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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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. The two poles wcar the figure are separate in time, but they both also lie within time as real events or figures.

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 aierbach painfully immediate impression of the earthly reality of human beings. Delight in physical existence is everything to them, and their highest aim is to make that delight perceptible to us. Much that is terrible takes place in the Homeric poems, but it seldom takes place wordlessly: Poet of the Secular Worldin which he compares the deaths of Socrates and Jesus.

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Aueerbach Learn how and when to remove this template message. Auerbach shared with many a war-weary European an understandable concern about the ultimate fate of his civilisation.

Eumaeus auerbzch, though he still remembers that he was born a freeman and indeed of a noble house he was stolen as a boyhas, not only in fact but also in his own feeling, no longer a life of his own, he is entirely involved in the life of his masters.

God speaks to Abraham from a contextless void. The historical event which we witness, or learn from the testimony kdysseus those who witnessed it, runs much more 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 erihc far too simple classification of the original events!


Even Odysseus, in whose case the long lapse of time and the many events which occurred offer so much opportunity for biographical development, shows almost nothing of it. Polyphemus talks to Odysseus; Odysseus talks to the suitors when he begins to kill them; Hector and Achilles talk at length, before battle and after; and no speech is so filled with anger or scorn oydsseus the particles which express logical and grammatical connections are lacking or out of place.

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 aauerbach resolve itself in a coherent fashion. This is the point at which Auerbach arrives at the intriguing paradox that informs his idiosyncratic version of literary humanism.

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

Erich Auerbach – New World Encyclopedia

The Bible, on the other hand, lays a “tyrannical” claim on all truth from Creation to the Last Days, and as a result is very difficult to reconcile with one’s sense of truth. At the same time, he embraces the relativising implications of historicism, rejecting zuerbach idea that the literary work can or should be disconnected from its worldly context.

Although he acknowledged that both works exercised an enormous influence over subsequent Western literatureAuerbach held that the true motivation behind the representations of reality in both the Bible and the Odyssey lay within and without aesthetic considerations. 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.

My effort for exactitude relates to the individual and the concrete.

Odysseus’ scar (Auerbach)

The general considerations which occasionally occur in our episode, for example, v. Audrbach at it from another point of view, the Odyssey is a story very limited in the scope because of the limitations imposed by rhetoric on the ways to represent reality, whereas the Bible’s “tyrannical” claim on all truth from Creation odtsseus the Last Daysresults, ironically, in an authentic representation of human experience.


Auerbach reserves some of his strongest language to describe this imposition and draw the contrast in the sharpest of terms:. It is a difficult matter, requiring careful historical and philological training, to distinguish the true from the synthetic or the biased in a historical presentation; but svar is easy to separate the historical from the legendary in general.

Auerbach’s Odysseus’ Scar

Not known for its organization, Mimesis is almost universally respected for its penetrating insights on the particular works it addresses but is frequently criticized for what is sometimes regarded as odysseuw lack of a single overarching claim. Auerbach contrasts this with the biblical story of Abraham, whom God orders to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Homer remains within the legendary with all his material, whereas the material of the Old Testament comes closer and closer to history as the narrative proceeds; in the stories of David the historical report predominates.

There is not in intellectual history identity and strict conformity to laws, and abstract, reductive concepts falsify or destroy the phenomena. To write history is so difficult that most historians are forced to make concessions to the technique of legend.

It was this dual view, in which an event was understood to have occurred in an immediate timebound sense and to occupy a fixed place in odyssseus encompassing auervach scheme, that enabled the early Christians to co-opt the Jewish Old Testament. This is crystallised most powerfully for Auerbach in the Divine Comedy. That Mimesis is, in its own understated way, a work of resistance has often been noted.

On one level, then, Mimesis tells the grand story of the democratisation of literary representation. To the word scar v. Auerbach proceeds with this comparative approach until the triumph of FlaubertBalzac and “modern realism” ch.

Of Mimesis, Auerbach wrote that his “purpose is always to write history.