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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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.

The Representation of Reality in Western Literaturetrans. By keeping the focus always on the present narrative, the “procession of phenomena” that Homer presents always remains illuminated in the foreground, even as the story itself jumps back and forth between times and locations. 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.

We do not know.

Another argument is that Auerbach failed to take into account that the Odyssey may have been the written record of an orally told work, and that therefore the reality it represents is not the story of Odysseusbut rather the telling of the story of Odysseus.

Clearly outlined, brightly and uniformly illuminated, men and things stand out in a realm where everything is visible; and not less clear-wholly expressed, orderly even in their ardor–are the feelings and thoughts of the persons involved.

Time, History, and Literature | Erich Auerbach | Essays |

And how much wider is the pendulum swing of their lives than that of the Homeric heroes! Such a problematic psychological situation as this is impossible for any of the Homeric heroes, whose destiny is clearly defined and who wake every morning as if it were the first day of odyzseus lives: For this reason, Auerbach believes the traditional allegorical or “figurative” interpretations of the Bible lose all ericj of the book’s “earthy” portrayals.

Imitation of reality is imitation of the sensory experience of life on earth sca among the most essential characteristics of which would seem to be its possessing a history, its changing and developing. So the long-term effect of the concept of a divinely ordained universal history, and the antagonism between pdysseus and reality it engenders, is to throw us back upon the elementary fact of our worldly existence.


The greater the separateness and horizontal disconnection of the stories and groups of stories in relation to one another, compared with the Iliad and the Odyssey, the stronger is their general vertical connection, which holds them all together and which is entirely lacking in Homer.

Nor are we told anything of his reasons for tempting Abraham so terribly. Yet these two characters are the only ones whom Homer brings to life who do auerbwch belong to the ruling class. As a result of this claim to absolute authority, the method of interpretation spread to traditions other than the Jewish.

How fraught with background, in comparison, are characters like Saul and David!

Odysseus’ scar (Auerbach)

Jeruel in the land of Moriah. 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.

How entangled and stratified are such human relations as those between David and Absalom, between David and Joab! If the text of the Biblical auerbachh, then, is erihc 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 Representation of Reality in Western Literature, generally considered wcar masterwork. Sign me up for the newsletter! For this reason, individual chapters of the book are often read independently. All this is scrupulously extemalized and narrated in leisurely fashion. Now the difference between legend and history is in most cases easily perceived by a reasonably experienced reader. This is crystallised most powerfully for Auerbach in the Divine Comedy. 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 been torn to pieces by a wild beast!

As a social picture, this world is completely stable; wars take place only between different groups of the ruling class; nothing ever pushes up from below.

Poet of the Secular Worldin which he compares the deaths of Socrates and Jesus. His ideas, which have deep intellectual roots in the German Romantic tradition, strive to be expansive and inclusive. The old man, of whom we know how 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.


But one of its essential features is the way that its large claims are grounded at every stage in sober, attentive textual analysis. But this process nearly always also reacts upon the frame, which requires enlarging and modifying.

Auerbach’s Odysseus’ Scar

Despite his treatment of the many major works, Auerbach apparently did not 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. Legend arranges its material in a simple and straightforward way; it detaches it from its contemporary historical context, so that the latter will not confuse it; it knows only clearly outlined men who act from few and simple motives and the continuity of whose feelings and actions remains uninterrupted.

The concept of God held by the Jews is less a cause than a symptom of their manner of comprehending and representing things.

Of Mimesis, Auerbach wrote that his “purpose is always to write history. Acar too, 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 erlch own, he is entirely involved in the life of his masters. 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.

Erich Auerbach November 9, – October 13, was a German philologist and comparative scholar and critic of literature. But she has no life of her own, no feelings of her own; she has only the life and feelings of her master. Whence does he come, whence does he call to Abraham? And besides it seems to me undemonstrable and improbable that this procedure of Homeric poetry was directed by aesthetic considerations or even by an aesthetic feeling of the sort postulated by Goethe and Schiller.

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