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Auerbach, Erich


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


(1892–1957) Philologist. Author of the landmark critical work Mimesis , Auerbach wrote extensively on Italian, French, and medieval Latin literature, the literary influences of Christian symbolism, and methods of historical criticism. The product of an eclectic academic background in Germany, where he studied art history, law, and philology, Auerbach, as a leading philologist of Romance languages and literatures, established a metaphysical/historical interpretative perspective which constituted a new epistemological approach to historical L iterary criticism . Discharged as professor of Romance philology at Marburg University by the Nazi regime in 1935, Auerbach spent the next 12 years in Istanbul, where his work became both driven and informed by a desire to define and, if possible, preserve Western literary and cultural traditions and values. The recurring framing device characterizing his work was the analysis of literary language and themes as a method of historical interpretation. The subject of Auerbach's most important work, Mimesis (subtitled The Representation of Reality in Western Literature ), was not so much realism in general as much as the manner in which realistic subjects were treated seriously, problematically, or tragically throughout the history of the development of European literature. In this respect – especially in light of Auerbach's methodology of isolating ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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