Those well-versed in comparative literature will find his insights stimulating. 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.
ISBN 13: 9781401035273
One of the most valuable aspects of this volume is that these essays set out. The densely written, subtle essays towards the end of Time, Literature, and History. The essays in this excellent edition alongside Mimesis attest that he accomplished that mission to perfection. 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. Of traditional attitudes there are only two--For or Against--and I, personally, find it difficult to say which attitude has caused me the most pain.
I am speaking as a writer; from a social point of view I am perfectly aware that the change from ill-will to good-will, however motivated, however imperfect, however expressed, is better than no change at all. But it is part of the business of the writer--as I see it--to examine attitudes, to go beneath the surface, to tap the source. From this point of view the Negro problem is nearly inaccessible.
It is not only written about so widely; it is written about so badly. It is quite possible to say that the price a Negro pays for becoming articulate is to find himself, at length, with nothing to be articulate about. This is fine, it keeps the waters troubled; it is all, indeed, that has made possible the Negro's progress.
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Nevertheless, social affairs are not generally speaking the writer's prime concern, whether they ought to be or not; it is absolutely necessary that he establish between himself and these affairs a distance which will allow, at least, for clarity, so that before he can look forward in any meaningful sense, he must first be allowed to take a long look back. In the context of the Negro problem neither whites nor blacks, for excellent reasons of their own, have the faintest desire to look back; but I think that the past is all that makes the present coherent, and further, that the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly.
I know, in any case, that the most crucial time in my own development came when I was forced to recognize that I was a kind of bastard of the West; when I followed the line of my past I did not find myself in Europe but in Africa. And this meant that in some subtle way, in a really profound way, I brought to Shakespeare, Bach, Rembrandt, to the stones of Paris, to the cathedral at Chartres, and to the Empire State Building, a special attitude. These were not really my creations, they did not contain my history; I might search in them in vain forever for any reflection of myself.
I was an interloper; this was not my heritage. At the same time I had no other heritage which I could possibly hope to use--I had certainly been unfitted for the jungle or the tribe. I would have to appropriate these white centuries, I would have to make them mine--I would have to accept my special attitude, my special place in this scheme--otherwise I would have no place in any scheme.
What was the most difficult was the fact that I was forced to admit something I had always hidden from myself, which the American Negro has had to hide from himself as the price of his public progress; that I hated and feared white people. This did not mean that I loved black people; on the contrary, I despised them, possibly because they failed to produce Rembrandt. In effect, I hated and feared the world.
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And this meant, not only that I thus gave the world an altogether murderous power over me, but also that in such a self-destroying limbo I could never hope to write. One writes out of one thing only--one's own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give.
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This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art. May be ex-library. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service! Log-in or create an account first!
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