I recently picked up a copy of Erich Auerbach‘s Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, a classic I’ve meant to read for decades now. I don’t know if Auerbach is still much read; I suspect his traditional approach, with its deep philological knowledge and casual allusiveness (he wrote it in in Istanbul, where he had fled from the Nazis and where he had to make do with the scanty resources available to him, but he writes as if he had entire libraries at hand), is long out of fashion, but it’s very much to my taste. I was introduced to the book by Susan Cherniack, one of the finest scholars and people it has been my privilege to know (it is not to academia’s credit that she is not still in academia), but in those days I was immersed in Indo-European and had no time for it. Now I have the time (and more knowledge and maturity), and I should be able to get more out of it.
At any rate, my question to the assembled multitudes is: if you are familiar enough with the titular word to have a pronunciation for it, what is it? I’ve always been torn between /maɪ’miːsɪs/ (my-MEE-sis), the traditional anglicized form, and /mɪ’meɪsɪs/ (mih-MAY-sis), the classicizing form I’m guessing most Americans use (if they use the word at all); I presume Auerbach said /’mimesɪs/ (MEE-may-sis), with stress on the first syllable (which is the way my German dictionary has it), and modern Greeks say /’mimisis/ (MEE-mee-sees), but we can rule the latter two out of court as unbearably pretentious on English-speaking lips. (Wikipedia tells me the Russian equivalent of “mimesis” is мимесис or мимезис, with the stress on the first syllable.) I lean toward the second version (mih-MAY-sis), despite my usual preferences, because that’s how Susan said it, but I’m curious about other people’s usage.
Incidentally, the copy I got is not the currently available Deluxe 50th Anniversary Edition (9.2 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches, Shipping Weight: 2 pounds) but the good old Anchor paperback, small enough to fit into my pants pocket. Books have gotten both too expensive and too big.