Sometimes, for a scene or two, her truth to nature and fact is rewarded by that curious sense of recognition which the reader feels in the presence of actual mimesis of creation of fictitious fact and person. But this is not common: and the epithet "dull," which too commonly only stigmatises the person using it, may really suggest itself not seldom in reference to Miss Sewell.
This dress is one of those most easily picked out at a distance against the rusty colour of the soil. Whence this neglect to practise mimesis, 'protective mimicry'? He has every need of it, poor fellow, quite as much as his companion in the fields!
Poesy, therefore, is an art of imitation, for so Aristotle termeth it in his word Mimesis, that is to say, a representing, counterfeiting, or figuring forth: to speak metaphorically, a speaking picture: with this end, to teach and delight; of this have been three several kinds. The chief both in antiquity and excellency, were they that did imitate the inconceivable excellencies of God.
The word 'mimesis' has been invented for the express purpose of designating the animal's supposed faculty of adapting itself to its environment by imitating the objects around it, at least in the matter of colouring. We are told that it uses this faculty to baffle its foes, or else to approach its prey without alarming it.
And with Sidney the Aristotelianism of the Italian renaissance makes its first appearance in English criticism. "Poesie," writes Sidney, "therefore is an arte of imitation, for so Aristotle termeth it in his word Mimesis, that is to say, a representing, counterfeiting, or figuring forth: to speake metaphorically, a speaking picture."
'Just so; nevertheless, our black-and-yellow friend is a parasite of the Chalicodoma of the Walls, who has nothing in common, either in shape or colour, with the Wasp. This is a Leucopsis, not one of whom enters the Wasps' nest. 'Then mimesis...? 'Mimesis is an illusion which we should do well to relegate to oblivion.
Never will the wasp take that unwieldy insect for one of her own kind. The difference is too great. Poor Volucella, mimesis has not taught you enough. You ought this is the essential point to have adopted a wasp's shape; and that you forgot to do: you remained a fat fly, easily recognizable.
The Bludgeon is reserved for the friend of the family. Now go and practice your mimesis in order to receive a welcome from the Anthophora or the Chalicodoma! A few hours spent with the insects themselves will turn any one into a hardened scoffer at these artless theories. To sum up, mimesis, in my eyes, is a piece of childishness.
To others, of course, this is the very miracle of art a miracle, as far as the art of prose fiction is concerned, achieved in its fullness for practically the first time. This is the true mimesis the re-creation or fresh creation of fictitious reality. Now, as it happens, all these charges have been brought against Nature too.
Our would-be laws contain but an infinitesimal shade of reality; often indeed they are but puffed out with vain imaginings. Such is the law of mimesis, which explains the Green Grasshopper by the green leaves in which this Locust settles and is silent as to the Crioceris, that coral-red Beetle who lives on the no less green leaves of the lily.