Re: [mythsoc] Owen Barfield
- The simplest thing to say is that, indeed, you should just read Poetic Diction. Barfield's point, if I recall correctly, is that what has happened in each word that now has both a literal and a figurative meaning is not that the figurative meaning was created later using the original literal meaning. According to Barfield, there was only one unified meaning in the beginning which later was broken up into the present literal and figurative meanings. Neither the past nor the present is more literal or more figurative according to Barfield. The past was more unified, while the present makes more distinctions. He doesn't consider one to be better or worse.Wendell WagnerIn a message dated 5/7/2011 11:42:17 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, davise@... writes:
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
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.
- 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 On May 25, 2011, at 12:45 PM, dale nelson wrote: