Erich Auerbach

The Idea of the National Spirit as Source of the Modern Humanities

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Erich Auerbach; Volksgeist; Historicist Tradition; Geisteswissenschaften.

"Der Volksgeistgedanke als Wurzel der modernen Geisteswissenschaften" is one of the papers which was not published during Auerbach's lifetime and which has been recently recovered. The translation of the text is the first one edited in Italy. As Cordibella argues in the Note to the Text, Auerbach submitted the paper to the Sixty-Ninth annual Meeting of the Modern Language Association of America which was held in New York on 24-29 December 1954. The paper is part of Auerbach's review of historicist tradition and of the modern disciplinary development of the "Geisteswissenschaften". This abstract of the speech, arguably written by Auerbach himself, was published in an issue of the journal «Proceedings of the Modern Language Association of America» (1955) together with the program of the Meeting: «Modern research in the humanistic disciplines is based on historical perspectivism. This perspectivism was developed by preromantic and romantic critics; its most characteristic and complete elaboration took place in Germany, under special conditions, in connection with the concept of folk-genius».

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