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This paper argues that the idea of the sublime lies at the heart of Auerbach's notion of realism as developed in Mimesis. Through a close examination of Auerbach's approach to literary history, I show that his concept of realistic representation, far from being relativistic and radically contingent as Auerbach himself asserts, is actually structural and implicitly theoretical. Auerbach's well-known notion of the mixture of styles is not a mixture or fusion of stylistic levels, but a dialectic of the human drama: a dynamic synthesis between sublimitas and humilitas, the high and the low, which created a new conception of the human being as a self-transcending entity that can be the subject of history. Thus Auerbach can be interpreted as proffering a notion of the sublime that is not merely stylistic, but sociological and humanistic.