Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 227
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature is a 1946 non-fiction volume of literary criticism by the German academic Erich Auerbach. In it, Auerbach subjects twenty seminal works of western literature to critical evaluation, specifically analyzing the way in which they present and represent the mundane.
As an analytical, non-fiction text, Mimesis does not have characters in the traditional, literary sense, and there are no protagonists nor antagonists. Instead, Auerbach presents and analyzes mannerisms and traits of the characters of others' stories. In other words, the action of the characters is not described and introduced, rather, the previously chronicled actions of the characters are analyzed for their meaning.
The first chapter of the book is dedicated to the story of the Odyssey. The interaction of two characters - Odysseus and Eurycleia - are analyzed by Auerbach to conclude that the ancient Greeks viewed that the mystic and the mundane are "not only actually unseparated but basically inseparable."
In the book's second chapter, titled "Fortunata," the story of Satyricon is analyzed. Auerbach pays particular attention to the role of Fortunata, wife of the story's central character Trimalchio.
Other characters examined in the book include Madame du Chaste (from Antoine de la Sale's Le Réconfort de Madame du Fresne), Luise Miller (from Friedrich Schiller's Intrigue and Love), and Michel de Montaigne from his own work Essays, among others.
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