Reading what people say about Owen Barfield and then reading what Owen Barfield has to say about himself, one is confronted with an enigma. C.S. Lewis called him the 'wisest and best of my unofficial teachers' but found himself at intellectual odds with Barfield on almost every front, commenting that 'he is as fascinating (and infuriating) as a woman.' A lawyer by profession, Barfield never held an academic post and founded no school of thought. He gained his literary reputation traveling the academic circuit in America where he was much celebrated as a deeply original thinker and held guest posts at a string of colleges in the Northeast. Long-committed to anthroposophy and the thought of Rudolph Steiner (he saw him as the Aristotle of modern times), Barfield's main concern was not his own literary legacy but the long-term impact of his ideas. What distinguished him most from his contemporaries (he was a long-term member of the Inklings circle) was 'his passionate concern not merely with visionary ideas but with their implementation' (Blaxland-de Lange). Barfield himself declared, 'my greatest achievement lay not in writing books but in my skill in bringing Americans together.' Written with Barfield's active cooperation, this biography uses Barfield's own words wherever possible to elucidate his life's work as a lawyer, lecturer, and man of letters. Because of this, the text can be uneven, but it's worth a little trudging to discover the man behind the thought.
An Eighth Day View:
This biography (the first to be published on Owen Barfield) was written with the help of Barfield himself, who, before his death in 1997, participated in numerous interviews with the author. Barfield also lent him many of his papers and manuscripts. The fruit of their collaboration is a book that penetrates deeply into the life and thinking of one of a towering figure of the twentieth century.