Friday, September 18, 2009

George MacDonald

The Victorian period in England was a strong influence on the Fantasy genre. Many authors contributed memorable works during this time period. George MacDonald was one of the authors of this time. Born in Scotland, he became a preacher, teacher and writer. He wrote over thirty novels, fairy tales and other things. His strongest contributions were in children’s and Christian Fantasy with strong dream images and fanciful in nature. A religious man, he imbued is books with some Christian symbolism that were allegorical in nature. On the other hand, he wrote light stories for children too. C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton and Lewis Carroll were influenced by this author.

Phantastes is one of his adult Fantasy novels considered a classic. It is the story of a man called Anodos. He finds himself drawn into the land of Fairy when his bedroom turns into a forest. What follows is a series of episodic adventures where he gains a Shadow and fights evil. The book is full of vivid dream-like images that are very descriptive and evocative. Anodos’s varied adventures leads to a wonderful book with many symbols that make a reader think about the book.

The first of Mr. MacDonald’s popular children’s books is At the Back of the North Wind. Diamond is a boy befriended by the North Wind. She appears as a woman to him, but can not enter the country always at her back, living at the edge of the world in the far North. He travels through her to the “land of love.” After seven days, Diamond returns to our world to help Victorian London’s poor people. It is a strange adventure with many strong themes.

The Princess and the Goblin followed the previous book. Goblins plot to steal the young Princess Irene for their leader. Curdie is a worker in the goblin mines. He 5learns of the goblins’ plans and how to stop them. Irene uses a magical spider silk thread to rescue the captured Curdie. A fun story of adventure and thwarted plans ensues. This book has many uplifting themes attached to it.

Mr. MacDonald wrote a sequel with The Princess and Curdie. The characters of Princess Irene and Curdie are older. Curdie has grown lazy and complacent. He kills a pigeon belonging to a wise woman. She sends him on trials to get forgiveness after which he becomes her agent. Princess Irene and Curdie then journey to the capitol to save the king. They are helped by pigeons sent by the wise woman. This sequel has some misanthropy and is darker than the first book.

The second adult Fantasy novel of Mr. MacDonald is Lilith. In this book the main character, Mr. Vane, R passes through a mirror into another world. There he finds Adam and Eve guarding the sleeping dead. He turns down their offer and explores the strange world. Lilith appears throughout the story in various forms to tempt him. Mr. Vane must overcome several problems before returning to his world. This book is very complex and full of potent, disturbing images. It is Mr. MacDonald’s masterpiece of Fantasy.

George MacDonald is a classic Fantasy author of Victorian England. He wrote many stories and books that are memorable today. His vivid imagination provided intense dream images to his works. Christian and children’s Fantasy are richer for his contributions. Authors like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll were influenced by his writing. Seek out his works online or in book form if you get a chance. You will not be disappointed.

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