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Philosopher Owen Barfield

Owen Barfield, from the Drew University Site
Of all the Inklings, the group of Oxford scholars that met regularly to discuss Christianity and mythology in the early 1900's, one of the least often memorialized on the Net is Owen Barfield. The other central three -- C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles Williams -- wrote fantasy, as well as theology and philosophy. Owen Barfield wrote many books, mainly philosophy, but the closest he came to fantasy was the fairy tale The Silver Trumpet. This may have something to do with their relative number of remembrances among web-builders.

But Barfield wrote such philosophy! I can't believe that such topics as the evolution of human consciousness wouldn't be interesting for websurfers in the 21st Century, so I have created this page to at least pull together what sources on Owen Barfield do exist, and make them more accessible.

This has, of course, already been done at the Owen Barfield World Wide Website. That is your best starting point for data on Owen Barfield and the life of a "purposely creative individual". The obituary page includes copies of obituaries originally printed on other sites and now removed.

Sparkle in Eyelight is a selection from the works of Owen Barfield on the evolution of human consciousness. It is a snapshot introduction to his philosophical thought.

The Owen Barfield page at the C.S. Lewis site maintained by Upland Campus is a very compressed biography that also lists Barfield's major writing on the study of language.

SEVEN: An Anglo-American Literary Review is a periodical for the discussion of seven related writers: George MacDonald, G K Chesterton, C S Lewis, J R R Tolkien, Charles Williams, Dorothy L Sayers and Owen Barfield.

Owen Barfield: The Evolution of Consciousness is an extensive collection of notes by Stephen L. Talbott on Barfield's philosophy.

Talbott's book is summarized and reviewed online by Lothar Fritsch of the University of Missouri, including the section on Owen Barfield.

Gary Lachman has an excellent interview with Owen Barfield in Lapis magazine. This includes Owen Barfield's gloomy comments on the Internet. The article is, unfortunately, no longer available on the Net, but you can contact Lapis for back issues.

One site that might make Owen Barfield feel more optimistic about the potentials of the Internet: a MeaningPlace for online discussion of his works.

One of the elements of Barfield's thought that may be most fascinating to some, most upsetting to others, is alluded to in Owen Barfield's Heresy: The Two Jesus Boys.

An Owen Barfield Panel was held at the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association conference October 12-14, 2000. For more information, write to David Joplin.

The periodical A Reader's Journal, if you can find it in your library, has reviews of the following books:

  • Barfield, Owen, History, Guilt, and Habit, Wesleyan, 1979
  • Barfield, Owen, Owen Barfield on C. S. Lewis, Wesleyan, 1989
  • Barfield, Owen, Poetic Diction, Wesleyan University Press, 1973
  • Barfield, Owen, Rediscovery of Meaning, Wesleyan Press, 1977
  • Barfield, Owen, Romanticism Comes of Age, Wesleyan Press, 1966
  • Barfield, Owen, Saving the Appearances, Wesleyan, 1965
  • Barfield, Owen, Speaker's Meaning, Wesleyan, 1967
  • Barfield, Owen, Unancestral Voice, Wesleyan, 1965
  • Barfield, Owen, Worlds Apart, Wesleyan, 1963

Amazon has the following books by and about Owen Barfield in print and available, usually with reviews:

The following books are out of print, but you may find them at your local library or in a used books search:

  • C. S. Lewis's "great war" with Owen Barfield by Lionel Adey
  • Eager Spring by Owen Barfield
  • Evolution of Consciousness : Studies in Polarity by Shirley Sugerman
  • History in English Words by Owen Barfield
  • History, Guilt, and Habit by Owen Barfield
  • The Magical World of the Inklings : J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield by Gareth Knight
  • Orpheus : A Poetic Drama by Owen Barfield
  • Owen Barfield and the Origin of Language by Owen Barfield
  • Owen Barfield on C.S. Lewis by Owen Barfield
  • Rediscovery of Meaning, and Other Essays by Owen Barfield
  • Romanticism Comes of Age by Owen Barfield
  • The Silver Trumpet by Owen Barfield (this does have a review at Amazon)
  • Speaker's Meaning by Owen Barfield
  • This Ever Diverse Pair by Owen Barfield
  • Unancestral Voice by Owen Barfield
  • What Coleridge Thought by Owen Barfield
  • Worlds Apart: a Dialogue of the 1960's by Owen Barfield

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