The One Who “Taught Us How to Live on This Real Earth, without Any Conditions but Those of Life”: Tracing the Influence of Michel de Montaigne on Erich Auerbach and Mimesis

Amanda Norton


Mimesis (1946), Erich Auerbach’s seminal work of literary criticism, has provided scholars and laymen alike with a captivating, informative survey of representation in the Western literary tradition for more than a half a century. This article traces the influence of the essayist Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592) on Auerbach’s writing, both in Mimesis and throughout his career. Auerbach’s admiration for Montaigne’s style appears in many guises, from his own confident tone to his insistence upon the engagement of his ideal reader. By seeking to understand and illuminate one of Erich Auerbach’s intellectual and stylistic influences, this article will enhance the reader’s understanding of his critical methods and aims. (AN)

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