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George MacDonald

George MacDonald (1824-1905)
Some of George MacDonald’s books are available free on audiobook at Librivox because they’re in the public domain. Here’s a website devoted to George MacDonald which has some of his books in e-text formats.

Phantastes: The first fantasy novel for adults

Phantastes George MacDonald

George MacDonald’s Phantastes is generally regarded as pivotal in the development of fantasy literature: it is the first ever fantasy novel written exclusively for adults. Now of course we have fantastic literature intended for an adult audience going back centuries before that, to epic poems like Thomas Chestre’s Sir Launfal in the 14th Century, or — leaving English literature behind — to the Iliad and suchforth. MacDonald, however, does bear the distinction of being the first to introduce the world to the adult fantasy in its most common present form. C.S. Lewis further cemented MacDonald as the Godfather of Fantasy by calling him “my master” and harping on at length in Surprised by Joy Read More

At the Back of the North Wind: Best and worst of Victorian children’s literature

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

The Meaning Will Come with the Thing Itself...

George MacDonald wrote hundreds of stories throughout his lifetime (not surprising considering he had eleven kids!), most of which were fantasies that drew on a rich variety of sources: mythology, fairytales and Biblical mysticism. Credited by C.S. Lewis as the main inspiration behind The Chronicles of Narnia, MacDonald's dreamy little tales (especially this one) are a strange blend of frustrating ramblings and sublime imagery. Love it or hate it, At the Back of the North Wind encompasses the best and worst about MacDonald, the Victorian Era, and even children's literature itself.

Named after his father's favourite horse, Diamond... Read More

The Princess and the Goblin: Deserves to sit on any bookshelf

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald

George MacDonald found out his talent for telling fairy tales due to the fact that he had eleven children, and after the success of At the Back of the North Wind, which was published serially in a magazine, MacDonald wrote his two most popular books: The Princess and the Goblin and its sequel The Princess and Curdie. These books inspired the two most famous fantasy authors of all time: J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, both of whom are much indebted to MacDonald's innovative fairytales. It can be safely said that both The Lord of the Rings and Read More

The Princess and Curdie: Give it a miss

The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald

The Princess and the Goblin is one of the gems of children's literature that deserves to sit on any bookshelf. The same can not be said of its sequel The Princess and Curdie, which differs so much in tone and content from the original that it is sometimes difficult to remember it is in fact a sequel to the dreamy, beautiful The Princess and the Goblin. Don't get me wrong, I love George MacDonald's wonderful books, and although there are some nuggets of wisdom scattered throughout the book and Irene's grandmother is as fascinating as ever (as well as being one of the few feminine representations of Christian mysticism in children's literature) this particular MacDonald novel left me a little cold.

It begins extremely well: after the cataclysmic events at the conclusion of the previous book, the ... Read More

SHORTS: Poe, Rinehart, MacDonald, Lien

Here are some of the short fiction works we read this week that we wanted to share with you.

“The Black Cat” by Edgar Allen Poe (1843, free online at Poe Stories, Kindle version)

I recently stumbled upon and am pleased with the find. A Poe a day may well keep boredom at bay. The website helpfully gives descriptions of each story. I chose this one for the enticing simplicity of the summary: “a horror story about a cat”.

This is indeed a horror story about a cat, told by a particularly wretched narrator whose descent into alcoholism leaves him plagued with violent thoughts. One night he turns his rage on a once-beloved cat and from then on becomes incre... Read More

More books by George MacDonald

George MacDonald The Golden Key, Lilith, The Flight of the Shadow, At the Back of the North Wind, Phantastes fantasy book reviewsThe Flight of the Shadow — (1891) Publisher: Softly the moon rose, round and full. There was still so much light in the sky that she made no sudden change, and for a moment I did not feel her presence or look up. In front of me, the high ground of the moor sank into a hollow, deeply indenting the horizon-line: the moon was rising just in the gap, and when I did look up, the lower edge of her disc was just clear of the earth, and the head of a man looking over the fence was in the middle of the great moon. It was like the head of a saint in a missal, girt with a halo of solid gold.

George MacDonald The Golden Key, Lilith, The Flight of the Shadow, At the Back of the North Wind, Phantastes fantasy book reviewsLilith — (1895) Publisher: Lilith, by nineteenth-century Christian novelist, George MacDonald, is the chronicle of five trips taken by its narrator, Mr. Vane, into another world where, under the spell of MacDonald’s extraordinary imagination, he explores the ultimate mystery of evil. An Oxford undergraduate encounters an elusive spirit in the library of his ancestral mansion.The volume is introduced by C.S Lewis.