Through a reading of Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis, which readers inside and outside the academy have valued for decades, this essay teases out how literary critical value is often aligned with scale: big claims, minutely close readings, and the ability to move gracefully between them. The essay also identifies and discusses four techniques basic to literary criticism: description, interpretation, explanation, and evaluation. A coda speculates about the links between Mimesis and a visual technology introduced into university lecturing a few decades before Auerbach wrote his magnum opus: the slide projector.

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