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Owen Barfield

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  • Ernest Davis
    Thanks, all, for their helpful comments about my last post. I had another question about David Bratman s discussion in Mythprint about the passage about
    Message 1 of 38 , May 7, 2011
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      Thanks, all, for their helpful comments about my last post.
      I had another question about David Bratman's discussion in Mythprint about
      the passage about Bilbo's inexpressible staggerment. David writes:
      "it expresses, in Tolkien's terms a philosophical point about the nature
      of language that Tolkien learned from Lewis' friend, the linguistic
      philosopher Owen Barfield: that words we've barked down to dull literal
      meanings once rang with what we'd now call figurative connotations".

      However, Douglas Anderson in the Annotated Hobbit, commenting on the same
      passage, citing Verlyn Flieger, refers to "... Barfield's thesis that
      language in its original state was premetaphoric: that there was once an
      ancient semantic unity of word and thing, and words therefore refered to
      realities. Language is now, however, no longer concrete and literal."

      The Wikipedia article says "He shows how the imagination of the poet
      creates new meaning, and how this same process has been active, throughout
      human experience, to create and continuously expand language," which
      sounds like language is improving.

      So I'm not sure whether, in Barfield, language is getting better or worse,
      and, if worse, whether that is because it is becoming more or less
      literal.

      Of course, I suppose I should go read "Poetic Diction" for myself. But in
      the meantime, if anyone can clear this up quickly, I would be obliged.

      -- Ernie
    • John Rateliff
      Very sorry to hear it. I never met Edward Carlos Plunkett, though I did meet his father (the famous Lord Dunsany s son). Thanks for posting the news, Dale. We
      Message 38 of 38 , May 26, 2011
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        Very sorry to hear it. I never met Edward Carlos Plunkett, though I did meet his father (the famous Lord Dunsany's son). Thanks for posting the news, Dale.
           We can be grateful to this Lord Dunsany for one thing: he allowed the publication of a number of his grandfather's works that had lain neglected in a bank vault for decades -- a novel, a play, a volume of short stories, and various odds & ends. None of them had the stuff of greatness that makes me rank Dunsany as the best fantasy short story writer ever, but it's good to have even the lesser works of a great writer.
           --John R.

        current reading: THE BOOK OF WONDER [1912]



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