Good morning, and welcome back to this week’s round of Blogging from A-Z (blogging every day in April, except for Sundays, with posts revolving around topics in alphabetical order from A to Z). We pick up today with the letter “G.”
George MacDonald: a somewhat obscure author, though he shouldn’t be. Most well-known for being an inspiring influence on C.S. Lewis and for his children’s stories, George MacDonald also wrote many historical/romance novels.
I thought I’d list the MacDonald books I’ve read and give a brief summary of each:
The Light Princess – An original fairy tale about a princess cursed at birth, with a twist. Instead of the usual run-of-the-mill curses, the evil witch afflicts the princess with an absence of “gravity” (which ends up being a double meaning, as she will literally float away if not weighted down, but is also incapable of any sort of solemn or deep emotions). If you love fairy tales, you won’t be disappointed by this one.
The Princess and the Goblin – Eight-year old Princess Irene lives a lonely life in a mountainous kingdom infested with goblins. When the goblins plot to invade the kingdom and kidnap the princess, Irene, her new-found friend, Curdie, and her mysterious great-great-grandmother must come up with a plan to save the kingdom. This story has everything: magic, mystery, heroic characters, and just enough silliness to make it perfectly child-friendly.
Phantastes – A romance novel in which Anodos, a young man, is transported into Fairy Land where he sets about searching for his ideal of female beauty. He lives through years of adventures on his quest until at last he is able to give up his ideals and is returned to his home in the “waking world,” having only been gone 21 days. Phantastes is the story C.S. Lewis attributed much of his inspiration to in the realm of imagination and fiction-writing. It is a more difficult book to read, but well-worth the effort.
Lillith – Similar in style and theme to Phantastes, of the two, I prefer Lillith (I compared it to “Till We Have Faces” in my senior paper). An adaptation of the apocryphal story from the Talmud of Adam’s “first wife,” we are introduced to Mr. Vane. Mr. Vane also ends up in a different realm and must go on an adventure in order to find the true meaning of love. But instead of searching for the ideal woman, Mr. Vane becomes the protector of a race of children called the “Little Ones,” who suffer from a sort of Peter Pan complex in that they refuse to grow up or mature past that state of childishness. An excellent read.
The Fisherman’s Lady/The Marquis’ Secret - This is a story filled with intrigue, danger, and secrets from a deep, dark past as Malcolm goes on a quest of self-discovery with some startling conclusions. The story is brilliantly overshadowed by the presence of a loving God and Malcolm’s unwavering faith in Him. It also contains one of my all-time favorite literary scenes. In a flashback, we see young Malcolm on a fishing boat in the middle of a storm. A passenger on the boat notices that the captain has put Malcolm (approx. 12 years old) at the wheel, and expresses concern. The captain assures him that Malcolm is the best man to be at the wheel. Intrigued, the passenger begins a conversation with the boy, asking him if he’s afraid. Malcolm responds that he can’t be afraid when God is with him.
“What if God means for you to drown?” the passenger asks.
“I’d be far more scared if I thought I could drown without Him meaning me to,” Malcolm replies.
If you love C.S. Lewis, I highly recommend you go check out some of George MacDonald’s writings. Lewis himself said, “I never wrote a book in which I did not quote George MacDonald.”