Mimesis & Theory. Essays on Literature and Criticism, 1953–2005 (review)


The 2008 publication of Mimesis & Theory, a collection of previously published essays by René Girard on literature and literary theory, confirms the impression that Girard’s career has entered its valedictory stage. Coming hard on the heels of the 2007 publication of De la violence à la divinité, a single-volume collection of his four most important books (Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque; La violence et le sacré; Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde; and Le bouc émissaire), and coinciding with an award by the MLA for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement, this collection spans the course of Girard’s career and provides a concise way to gain some perspective on his legacy. The essays, some of which were translated by Robert Doran for this volume, are organized chronologically in the order of their original publication, making it possible to see the evolution of Girard’s thinking on literature and literary theory. (The social, anthropological dimension of his work—focusing on violence and religion—is on display in these essays only to the extent that it overlaps with his literary criticism.)

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