The text on this page is from David Lavery, "An Owen Barfield Readers Guide." Seven 15 (1998): 97-112.

Speaker's Meaning

Speaker's Meaning. London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1967.

The task of homo sapiens, when he first appeared as a physical form on earth, was not to evolve a faculty of thought somehow out of nothing, but to transform the unfree wisdom, which he experienced through his organism as given meaning, into the free subjectivity that is correlative only to active thought, to the individual activity of thinking. (Speaker’s Meaning 113-14)

In the fall of 1965, Barfield gave a series of lectures at Brandeis University during a stint--one of many in America after his retirement--as a visiting scholar in the English Department. Speaker’s Meaning put those lectures, with some slight modification, into the form of a "little book." The slightest of Barfield’s works, it nevertheless offers an approachable (if repetitive) brief excursion into Barfield’s key ideas on language, many of them articulated as early as History in English Words and Poetic Diction.

Table of Contents

1 The Semantic Approach to History and the Historical Approach to the Study of Meaning 13-39 
2 Imagery in Language and Metaphor in Poetry 40-67 
3 The Psychology of Inspiration and of Imagination 68-91 
4 Subject and Object in the History of Meaning 92-118