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History in English Words

Owen Barfield

192 pp.  

Lindisfarne Books


Published:  March 2002


For more than three-quarters of a century, Owen Barfield produced original and thought-provoking works that made him a legendary cult figure. History in English Words is his classic excursion into history through the English language. This popular book provides a brief, brilliant history of the various peoples who have spoken the Indo-European tongues. It is illustrated throughout by current English words whose derivation from other languages, and whose history in use and changes of meaning, record and unlock the larger history.

“In our language alone, not to speak of its many companions, the past history of humanity is spread out in an imperishable map, just as the history of the mineral earth lies embedded in the layers of its outer crust.... Language has preserved for us the inner, living history of our soul. It reveals the evolution of consciousness” —Owen Barfield

  • The English Nation:
    Philogy and the Aryans
    The Settlement and Europe
    England before the Reformation
    Modern England
  • The Western Outlook:
    Philosophy and Religion
    Personality and Reason
  • Afterword
  • Index

A fascinating volume; it is more than a book about words, it is about important words, and is extremely well written, with one source in literature and the other in semantics ... a learned, imaginative, moving and felicitously factual book.—Cyril Connolly, The Sunday Times

"It is a privilege to be allowed to recommend a book that is not only a joy to read but also of great moral value in the unending battle between civilization and barbarism."—W. H. Auden, poet and author of The Dyer’s Hand

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