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.
James I. Porter is professor of classics and comparative literature at the University of California, Irvine. His books include Nietzsche and the Philology of the Future and The Origins of Aesthetic Thought in Ancient Greece. Jane O. Newman is professor of comparative literature at the University of California, Irvine. Her books include The Intervention of Philology and Benjamin's Library.
"The 20 essays collected here--many of them translated from the German for the first time--bear out editor Porter's contention that Auerbach (1892-1957), best known for his literary study Mimesis, was one of the 20th century's great literary critics. . . . Those well-versed in comparative literature will find his insights stimulating."--Publishers Weekly
"Editor Porter purposefully organizes Auerbach's writings . . . in order to sketch a historical panorama of erudite language to predictions for future literary invention. He skillfully accomplishes these goals by drawing out examples of Auerbach's writing focused on humans and their language as earthly (irdisch) artifacts, each created with a historical perspective, not just as poetic language steeped in spiritual motifs alone. . . . [S]uited for literary theorists writing from disparate paradigms and for most scholars from the humanities engaged in granularly close readings pursuing the understanding of writing as one of many human creations."--Library Journal
"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."--Lois Henderson, BookPleasures.com
"Even the most enthusiastic readers of Erich Auerbach's Mimesis will be surprised by the extent to which this collection of essays changes the appreciation of Auerbach's work. Shifting from the New Critical fluency of his historical readings, these selections pay closer attention to the relation between forms of language and the transformation of the world through human thought and behavior. This revelatory book presents a new view of Auerbach, whose work gains in philosophical pertinence and complexity."--Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, Stanford University
Table of Contents
Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Erich Auerbach: