The page tore on page 34 of my copy of Mimesis as I was standing on the MUNI platform at 4th and King, from the divergent pressures of my thumb holding down the page and the wind suddenly and violently whipping it upward. I said “shit!” quietly to myself, but then imagined it as a mark of physical reality being imposed on my text, which may seem essential and untouchable but is really just a single, unique copy with the same mimetic words printed on it. Erich Auerbach himself, on the very page, inserted himself into the narrative (“As I open Rostovtzeff’s work to check the quotation above, my eyes fall on this sentence: ‘The question, however, arises, How are we to account for the existence of comparatively large numbers of proletarians in Italy?'”), which was an alarming departure from the otherwise omniscient authority of his literary criticism. I’m now reassured to know that future holders of this book will have tangible evidence of that single wind on Monday August 13th 2012.
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