Erich Auerbach (1892-1957), best known for his classic literary study Mimesis, is celebrated today as a founder of comparative literature, a forerunner of secular criticism, and a prophet of global literary studies. Yet the true depth of Auerbach's thinking and writing remains unplumbed. Time, History, and Literature presents a wide selection of Auerbach's essays, many of which are little known outside the German-speaking world. Of the twenty essays culled for this volume from the full length of his career, twelve have never appeared in English before, and one is being published for the first time.
Foregrounded in this major new collection are Auerbach's complex relationship to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, his philosophy of time and history, and his theory of human ethics and responsible action. Auerbach effectively charts out the difficult discovery, in the wake of Christianity, of the sensuous, the earthly, and the human and social worlds. A number of the essays reflect Auerbach's responses to an increasingly hostile National Socialist environment. These writings offer a challenging model of intellectual engagement, one that remains as compelling today as it was in Auerbach's own time.
|Publisher:||Princeton University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
James I. Porter is Chancellor's Professor in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley. Jane O. Newman is Professor of Comparative Literature and European Languages and Studies at the University of California, Irvine.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Of this collection of twenty essays by the German founder of comparative literature, spanning his entire career, twelve have never before appeared in English, and one is published here for the very first time. The main purpose behind this volume is to make Auerbach’s writings more generally available to English-speaking audiences. With this intent in mind, James I. Porter, professor of classics and comparative literature at the University of California, Irvine presents a profound and deeply insightful introduction to the life, work and importance of Auerbach, within the context of the time and place within which, and where, he wrote. Of great importance to his work was the fact that he was a displaced Jewish person in exile, having escaped the National Socialist regime in the country of his birth, and having taken up an academic appointment in Istanbul, at the time of his writing of his greatest work, and that for which he is the most renowned, namely Mimesis. The significance of these essays is that they both foreshadow, and follow on from, the above-mentioned text, so that they comprehensively reflect Auerbach’s development as a thinker and philosopher. The focus throughout the essays included here is on the linkage between different forms of language, and on the transformation of the Western world by means of human intellectual conception, perception, and action. Rather than arranging the essays chronologically, Porter has opted for organizing them into three main themes: history and the philosophy of history: Vico, Herder, and Hegel; time and temporality in literature; and passionate subjects, from the Bible to secular modernity. Porter’s introduction likewise does great justice to the subtlety and nuances of Auerbach’s writings by pointing out how they embody and exemplify the author’s worldview, fundamental to which was his complex relationship to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, leading to his profoundly moral and ethical stance on the whole of human history. Considerable care has been taken, in translation, to retain the intent and the meaning of the original work. Professor Jane O. Newman, a colleague of Porter, and the translator of these essays, who is lauded by her students in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine for her intelligence and passionate commitment to her work, spent her undergraduate years at Yale, and her postgraduate years at Princeton. She shows her intense interest in this work through the sincerity of the effort that she has put into her translation. As she states, “I have tried to capture Auerbach’s insights into the way literary texts themselves work and his methodological interventions into how we read them as accurately as possible.” While consulting some of the existing translations, when available, she has done so in such a way as to assimilate the most worthy, and to reformulate their wording and expression where she has found it desirable, and necessary, to do so. For scholar and non-academic alike, this work is of extreme importance, especially given the relatively scanty number of works available on such a key figure to the development of the study of comparative literature.