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Poetic diction: A study in meaning Unknown Binding – 1 Jan 1952

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Faber; New ed edition (1952)
  • ISBN-10: 0585371458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0585371450
  • ASIN: B0000CI6H0
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 10.8 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,660,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"This extraordinary study stands virtually alone in focusing on the mysterious area in poetry between word and meaning. Only the most sensitive and learned guides coule lead us through this terra incognita. Barfield is such a guide ... The book has already become a classic."-- G. B. Tennyson --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

'Poetic Diction' it has been valued not only as a secret book, but nearly as a sacred one; with a certain sense that its teaching was quite properly esoteric, not as the possession of few snobs but as something that would easily fail of being understood by even the most learned of those jugheads whose mouths continually pour forth but whose ears will serve only for carrying purposes. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book...along with a very few others (like Marshall McLuhan's UNDERSTANDING MEDIA)...deserves its reputation as an underground classic treasured by all those who take a serious interest in Language Studies. Barfield's insights into the deep structure of metaphors as the real engine of a given language's history are only now being studied in laboratories dedicated to mapping language functions in the human brain. It has been kept in print for 50 years (well beyond the lifespan of similar books on philosophy and linguistics of its time) for one reason...it has been passed on from teachers to students as a ritual gift that has the power to shatter a mind and transform its understanding of its own workings. It will still be read when the next millenium ends.
Comment 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
This is more a recommendation than a review. For those of
us who write, and those who read intensely, this book
probes and challenges, threatens and loves. Mr Barfield, by
the most lucid use of words, describes the differences
between poetic and aesthetic, the idea and profundities of
metaphor, the reality of translation, ( that exact translation
does not exist, as an extention of the difference between
definition and meaning), etc. etc.

The author is sincerely inspired, which his own writing
expresses with the joy of "the insect" admiring " the leaf".

If you can read my humble recommendation, read this book.

Martin Goldman
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
This is the first of many books by the recently deceased Mr. Barfield. It is jam-packed with wise observations relating to the intersection of poetry, language, and meaning. His arguments revolve around the metaphysical nature of metaphor, with lots of examples and subtle distinctions. In the end, the reader leaves with a vision of how a more conscious understanding and use of poetry - or better said, imaginative language - is at the heart of a true understanding of what makes us human. Let's hope lots of people order this book and that some of Barfield's other books get back into print (e.g., What Coleridge Thought, Romanticism Comes of Age).
Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9ae6d384) out of 5 stars 10 reviews
67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9acd3f00) out of 5 stars Perennial and Profound 13 Jan. 2003
By Daniel J. Smitherman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
By his own admission, Owen Barfield's writings can't be organized into "early" and "late" periods. He claimed that from the very first publications to the last, he was explicitly or implicitly working out his understanding of the evolution of human consciousness. His second published book, _Poetic Diction_, concerns the study of language as the record of the changing human experience of the world.
In _Poetic Diction_, Barfield argued that:
1. One defining effect of poetry is to "arouse aesthetic imagination"
2. A significant result of the interaction with the language of the poem is that the reader's awareness of the world is permanently expanded
3. The expansion of the reader's awareness correlates to the poet's own awareness of the world as articulated in the poem
Barfield supposed, further, that what may be prosaic to the author may still have a "poetic" effect on the reader, i.e., expanding the reader's awareness of the world. One consequence of these facts, Barfield argued, is that by reading, the reader perceives the world as the author perceives - or perceived - it. And if the text being read is a classical Latin text, or a Sanskrit text, for example, then the reader may experience very startling glimpses of the world as a result.
What he went on to argue was that, if we grant that this effect of poetic diction on our awareness of the world is a real effect, then we cannot escape the conclusion that the world as the authors of the Latin and Sanskrit texts was a very different world than our own. Further, he argued that one could trace those differences in the changes that languages have undergone since human languages have been recorded. Finally, by studying these changes, said Barfield, one sees that human consciousness in its first expressions in language was almost wholly perceptual and figurative.
Barfield then argued that the "poetic effect" of such ancient texts was that they make available to the reader an experience of the world that correlates to their concrete and figurative language, and that world is one that couldn't have been produced analytically and self-consciously - for instance, by superstition or some early attempts at scientific theorizing. Just as our language today expresses in myriad ways what we take to be real, so the ancient languages too.
Thus Barfield's conclusions about *poetry* are nothing at all like what contemporary academic literary theory concludes, because Barfield's conclusions are equivalent to a theory of knowledge - while contemporary literary theory denies implicitly that a theory of knowledge is even possible.
As literary theory, then, _Poetic Diction_ is only marginally relevant, if even that, because literary theorists no longer concern themselves with knowledge. As a theory of knowledge, and as a study of the significance of language and the evolution of human consciousness, _Poetic Diction_ remains a seminal work, the challenges of which have yet to be realized in but a few works even today.
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9acd3f54) out of 5 stars For those who write, this book is a must. 4 Jan. 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is more a recommendation than a review. For those of
us who write, and those who read intensely, this book
probes and challenges, threatens and loves. Mr Barfield, by
the most lucid use of words, describes the differences
between poetic and aesthetic, the idea and profundities of
metaphor, the reality of translation, ( that exact translation
does not exist, as an extention of the difference between
definition and meaning), etc. etc.

The author is sincerely inspired, which his own writing
expresses with the joy of "the insect" admiring " the leaf".

If you can read my humble recommendation, read this book.

Martin Goldman
San Juan, Puerto Ric
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c22a390) out of 5 stars A profound contemplation on poetry, language, & meaning 13 Dec. 1998
By D. Adams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the first of many books by the recently deceased Mr. Barfield. It is jam-packed with wise observations relating to the intersection of poetry, language, and meaning. His arguments revolve around the metaphysical nature of metaphor, with lots of examples and subtle distinctions. In the end, the reader leaves with a vision of how a more conscious understanding and use of poetry - or better said, imaginative language - is at the heart of a true understanding of what makes us human. Let's hope lots of people order this book and that some of Barfield's other books get back into print (e.g., What Coleridge Thought, Romanticism Comes of Age).
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ace41f8) out of 5 stars Forgotten Classic..70 years ahead of its Time! 16 Feb. 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book...along with a very few others (like Marshall McLuhan's UNDERSTANDING MEDIA)...deserves its reputation as an underground classic treasured by all those who take a serious interest in Language Studies. Barfield's insights into the deep structure of metaphors as the real engine of a given language's history are only now being studied in laboratories dedicated to mapping language functions in the human brain. It has been kept in print for 50 years (well beyond the lifespan of similar books on philosophy and linguistics of its time) for one reason...it has been passed on from teachers to students as a ritual gift that has the power to shatter a mind and transform its understanding of its own workings. It will still be read when the next millenium ends
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ace451c) out of 5 stars Wonderful, and not at all outdated! 4 July 2006
By KyrC - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One of the reviewers here called Barfield 'a product of his time' and suggested that now he's useful only for practical use, not for contemporary scientists and theorists. I have to disagree, and that's why I'm writing this review.

1) Barfield's views on co-evolution of language and consciousness may not be widely accepted today, but surely they're not 'outdated'. His is simply an alternative theory of language history, and 'alternative' doesn't mean 'wrong'. It isn't 'naive' either: he only notes some rules at work in different languages (such as the tendency to greater abstraction), and applies them to poetry. Nowhere does he regard the metahistory of language as linear, and nowhere does he speak of 'primitive' times, or of evolution towards greater complexity in language, etc.

2) Barfield's theory of metaphor is very stimulating and not at all discredited today. Maybe the former reviewer read too much Donald Davidson who regards Barfield's theory invalid, but for example Paul Ricoeur often cites Barfield approvingly. So it's all a matter of scientific paradigm one works in.

I could go on forever, but it'd be better if you didn't trust anyone and simply read some Barfield. Don't read him with 'a priori' knowledge of his being outdated - simply read and evaluate his every argument for yourself to see if it's valid. Theories come and go, but thoughtful books remain.
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