The Riddle of the Sphinx

A new collection of essays, published a quarter of a century after Owen Barfield’s death, The Riddle of the Sphinx illuminates an aspect of Barfield rarely before seen. He writes as directly as he ever did about the nature of humanity’s spiritual need in our time. Our capacities of imagination and inspiration are shown in their true dimensions.

At the same time, scholarly and wise, Barfield enables readers to appreciate these insights. He writes about how poetry begins, about language as an archive of consciousness, and about philosophy as a path to understanding how different ways of perceiving are possible.

Barfield guides us on an episodic trip through history – from ancient Israel and Greece to early Christian times, onward to medieval England, and the eras of the Renaissance and Romanticism, right up to the present day. He does not just demonstrate that there has been an evolution of consciousness: he reveals how thrilling it is when recognized.

The Sphinx’s deepest riddle, Barfield knew, was: What, after all, is the human being? The evolution of consciousness, Barfield’s great subject, has given many answers to that question.

Owen Barfield challenges us, beyond the ready-made responses given to us, to answer the question anew, for ourselves.

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