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With the rise of National Socialism Auerbach was forced to vacate his position in 1935. Exiled from Nazi Germany, he took up residence in Istanbul, Turkey, where he wrote Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (1946), generally considered his masterwork. Auerbach's life and work in Turkey is detailed and placed in historical and sociological context by Kader Konuk, East West Mimesis: Auerbach in Turkey (2010).
In the fifty year commemoration reprinting of Auerbach's Mimesis, Edward Said of Columbia University included an extended introduction to Auerbach and mentioned the book's debt to Giambattista Vico stating: "As one can immediately judge by its subtitle, Auerbach's book is by far the largest in scope and ambition out of all the other important critical works of the past half century. Its range covers literary masterpiences from Homer and the Old Testament right through to Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust, although as Auerbach says apologetically at the end of the book, for reasons of space he had to leave out a great deal of medieval literature as well as some crucial modern writiers like Pascal and Baudelaire."
Auerbach, Erich. Roman Filolojisine Giris Istanbul Universitesi Edebiyat Fakultesi: Horoz Yayinevi, 1944.
Auerbach, Erich. Scenes from the Drama of European Literature. New York: Meridian, 1959. Republished 1984 by Manchester University Press. ISBN0-7190-1457-3.