Lewis and Barfield’s “Great War” To See Print

Between 1925-1930 C. S. Lewis and his friend Owen Barfield carried on a philosophical debate they called “the Great War.” Although examined by scholars, most of this exchange has never been published. Now the Lewis and Barfield estates have given permission for the Journal of Inklings Studies to release the missing texts in a special supplementary issue.

The issue will include full texts of all unpublished writings within the ‘Great War’, including Lewis’s ‘Summae Metaphysices contra Anthroposophos‘ and Barfield’s ‘De Toto et Parte‘. The collection will be edited with notes by Arend Smilde and an introduction by Norbert Feinendegen.

This limited edition of the Journal of Inklings Studies will be offered to subscribers, researchers and research institutions.

Lionel Adey studied the letters for C. S. Lewis’s “The Great War” (2000), corresponding with Barfield himself to gain insight and to fill in the gaps. According to Adey, Lewis would not have developed into a religious apologist without these challenging exchanges, and Barfield asserted that in the course of “The Great War” Lewis taught him “how to think.” Many of the ideas later published in Barfield’s Poetic Diction (1928) were refined in debate with Lewis.

“The Great War” occurred in the years preceding Lewis’ conversion and scholars have wondered if Barfield’s interest in Anthroposophism, a religious movement founded by Rudolf Steiner, played a part. Barfield famously laughed off the possibility: “I’m not sure in what way I was supposed to have influenced Lewis. I mean, he never listened to what I said!”

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