Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Barfield at the Bodleian

So, last week I got word that the massive project of cataloguing all the Barfield Papers in the Bodleian Library is now complete and available online:

Not only is this an amazing resource, but it reveals a great deal we didn't know about Barfield's works before, including the existence of new as-yet unpublished ones. For example,

--short stories. I knew of only two ("The Child and the Giant" and "Dope"); now we have the names of four more ("The Lake of Nix", "The Little Perisher", "A Story for Alexander", "The Superman")

--plays, I knew of four (Orpheus, Medea, Angels at Bay, and Lady Be Careful), three of them unpublished, to which are now added two more: Ye Olde Englande and The Quest of Sangreal, the latter of which sounds particularly interesting (it wd make Barfield the fourth of the four major Inklings to write an Arthurian work).

--A fifty-eight page narrative poem, about which I'd never heard so much as a peep, called The Tower.

--And, perhaps most intriguing of all, a folder containing "Notes Towards a Possible 'Sequel' to My Novel ENGLISH PEOPLE", apparently dating from about a decade after Barfield completed that still-unpublished novel. Given how it's v. much a novel of ideas about the contemporary world at the time it was written, it'd be interesting to see what Barfield thought might happen next to its characters.

Nor is this all: a few miscellaneous items also catch the eye. For example, the description of the manuscript for A CRETACEOUS PERAMBULATOR credits JRRT as the author (mistakenly, I think, given that he's not so credited in the introduction to the published work). Also of note is (Dep. c. 1104.172) what is described as "letter from Walter Hooper about C. S. Lewis' work, 'The Dark Tower', 1974". I'd be interesting to see this one, though we already know pretty much what it says.*

Add to this resource the recent extensive bibliography by Jane Hipolito available on the Barfield Estate's official website ( ), and we have all the tools for some serious Barfield scholarship here. Definitely worth spending some time with the next time I'm at the Bodleian (whenever that may be).


current audiobook: THE FAERIE QUEENE, Bk II (The Legend of Sir Guyon)
*"I showed this fragment to Major Lewis, Owen Barfield and Roger Lancelyn Green and was disappointed to learn that they had never seen or heard of it" -- Walter Hooper, "A Note onThe Dark Tower", The Dark Tower and Other Stories page 92.

1 comment:

Jason Fisher said...

This is wonderful. Exactly the kind of news I want for Mythprint! :)