All comments welcome; and, welcome as additions to the site:

Unless otherwise stated,
all content © A.E.M. Baumann

Sharing a Found Bibliography
– Jan 29, 2015
– originally posted to the PDC June 28, 2014

A 'Best Of' post from the Best of the Poetry Daily Critique page.

Sharing a Found Bibliography


The Afterword of Owen Barfield's Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning, added by the author after the third edition, consists mostly of a list of works in the same exploration as Poetic Diction, works written at or before the first edition of 1928 and in the time between then and the third edition of 1973. It is quite an excellent list of works for people interested in aesthetic literature (and the aesthetic in general), including writers thereof. (Indeed, Barfield's text is itself equally applicable to both appreciators of aesthetic literature and writers thereof.) Being familiar with a majority of the works (or authors) on the list, and what with it being in Poetic Diction, quite the worthwhile book on its own measure, I have no qualms with passing it on here in this post (and adding it, after, to the library). For a better basis of recommendation than my own familiarity, I will say that this is a list of the usual suspects of the field, works and authors that I have frequently seen referenced to this very end. (In truth, this list has reorganized my theoretic reading list.)

The authors and books below all approach the same general subject — the aesthetic modality of being — though often from different approaches, both in content and in the nuances and details of their theoretic/critical systems. The aesthetic, by the very nature of its modality of thought, cannot be spoken of in the manner of the theoretic, arriving at any sense of theoretic definitiveness: it can only be spoken about. To approach it genuinely is invariably to approach along one's own path. As Jung wrote about the exploration of psychology, which is concomitant to the exploration of the aesthetic, "[t]he psychologist should constantly bear in mind that his hypothesis is no more at first than the expression of his own subjective premise and can therefore never lay immediate claim to general validity" (The Spirit in Man, Art, and Literature, Collected Works, 85). As such, no work below can be said to be complete or closing discussion on the subject. Even, they may at times seem to speak against each other. Also, they will each have their own weaknesses, depending on the approach. For example, by my reading, Barfield's own work suffers at points from the very dilemma he rightly points out in other writers: the failure to approach the poetic from the poetic. Where his discourse becomes too influenced by an unperceived theoretic underpinning it weakens. Yet, such is the nature of aesthetic discourse. As Nietzsche points out, we must ever be taking our hammers to our own words to seek out where we are or where we are becoming ideationally stuck.

That said, the value of the works below lies not in any theoretic definitiveness but in the ideas they present. The value of the works to writers of the aesthetic lie thus in the ideas brought to the mind for exploration and engagement. That they are about literature or about the plastic arts is irrelevant: there is no argument against the statement that an explorer of the literary aesthetic should also be an explorer of the aesthetic across the arts.

The subheadings are extracted from Barfield's text; though, it is worth nothing that the categories are loosely held, and texts listed often fit in more than one place. My additions to the list are bracketed.


Of course, we should lead off with the source itself:

  • Barfield, Owen. Poetic Diction: A Study in Meaning.

On poetic diction in general:

  • Cassirer, Ernst. Philosophy of Symbolic Forms.
  • Cassirer, Ernst. Language and Myth. [As Barfield recognizes, its arguments are similar to those in Poetic Diction, though Barfield did not know of Cassirer's works at the time.]
  • Langer, Susanne. Feeling and Form.
  • Cornfold, F.M. From Religion to Philosophy.

On metaphor [for transparency's sake, it is this list with which I am least familiar]:

  • Stanford, W. Bedell. Greek Metaphor.
  • Snell, Bruno. Discovery of the Mind.
  • Onian, R. B. The Origins of European Thought.
  • Boman, Thorlief. Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek.
  • Wheelwright, Philip. Metaphor and Reality.
  • Wheelwright, Philip. The Burning Fountain.

On 'making of meaning':

  • Lewis, C. Day. The Poetic Image.
  • Bloom, Harold, ed. Romanticism and Consciousness.
  • Auerbach, Erich. Mimesis (esp. on "Figura".) [note that this work is easily misread through taking the subject too broadly]
  • Wind, Edgar.
  • Gombrich, E. H. [Art and Illusion is requisite.]

On unconscious activity of the mind:

  • Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Biographia Literaria, etc.
  • Davie, Donald. Articulate Energies.
  • Whyte, L. L.
  • Abrams, M. H. The Mirror and the Lamp.
  • Deschamp, Paul. Le Formation de la Pensée de Coleridge.
  • Jung on psychology of unconscious.
  • Freud, Sigmund. Antithetical Sense of Primal Words.
  • Bodkin, Maud. Archetypal Patterns in Poetry.
  • Neumann, Erich. The Origins and History of Consciousness [and Art and the Creative Unconscious].
  • Van den Berg, J.H.. The Changing Nature of Man.

On myth and dream:

  • Fiedler, Lisa. Myth and Signature.
  • E[é]liade, Mircea. [for example, The Sacred and the Profane and Images and Symbols]
  • Bachelard, Gaston.
  • Frye, Northrop.
  • The publications of the Society for Arts, Religion, and Culture, like Interpretation: the Poetry of Meaning and Myth, Dreams, and Religion.
  • Snell, Bruno. Discovery of the Mind.
  • Sewell, Elizabeth. The Orphic Voice.

In that line, neo-platonistic thinkers:

  • Cassirer, Ernst. The Platonic Renaissance in England.
  • Wind, Edgar. Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance.
  • Lovejoy, Arthur. The Great Chain of Being.
  • Yates, Francis. Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition and The Art of Memory. (To note, Yates's thesis on Bruno has come under critique.)
  • Raine, Kathleen. Blake and Tradition.
  • Abrams, M.H. Natural Supernaturalism.