Verbal medium and narrative art in Homer and the bible

Philosophy and Literature 28 (1):103-117 (2004)
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: Erich Auerbach's famous comparative study of Homer and the Bible, "Odysseus' Scar," argues that their contrastive styles derive from the different possibilities available to oral tradition and literature. In support of this thesis, I invoke two theories of verbal art: Walter Benjamin's description of the storyteller's craft, and Victor Shklovsky's definition of art as "defamiliarization." Through a comparative analysis of the use of type-scenes in Homer and in biblical narrative, I demonstrate how Homer is a traditional storyteller, practicing an "art of the familiar," whereas biblical narrative "defamiliarizes" traditional forms



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