Tuesday, September 18, 2007

George MacDonald

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1905 of Scottish preacher, poet and fantasy writer George MacDonald. He was a powerful influence on G. K. Chesterton, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and recently deceased Madeleine L'Engle.

Phantastes, his first work of fiction, was written in 1858. It can be read online here, among other places. VictorianWeb has a section of their site devoted to the work.

The Light Princess, published in 1864, is one of MacDonald's most popular works. It can be read online here and on a single page here. Other links, including audio versions are linked here. It was well-loved by my children.

The Golden Key (1867) was one we read some when the kids were little. You can read this fairy tale on one page here or here.

The kids didn't like At the Back of the North Wind (1871) nearly as much. It is here, here and other links and an audio version are here. An illustrated version is here.

The Princess and the Goblin (online here) and The Princess and Curdie were read-alouds for us when the kids were little, but, again, these weren't the favorite repeat reads that some other books were. The first of these two was made into a film, which we have not seen, in 1993. Here's a clip from the movie:

My favorite of his books is Lilith, maybe because I discovered the legend of Lilith as Adam's first wife about the same time I discovered this book. It is online here.


by George MacDonald

I missed him when the sun began to bend;
I found him not when I had lost his rim;
With many tears I went in search of him,
Climbing high mountains which did still ascend,
And gave me echoes when I called my friend;
Through cities vast and charnel-houses grim,
And high cathedrals where the light was dim,
Through books and arts and works without an end,
But found him not--the friend whom I had lost.
And yet I found him--as I found the lark,
A sound in fields I heard but could not mark;
I found him nearest when I missed him most;
I found him in my heart, a life in frost,
A light I knew not till my soul was dark.

More information about George MacDonald can be found here, here at VictorianWeb and here. His son Greville wrote a biography in 1924 which is in print. The Columbia Encyclopedia entry is available at Bartleby.com. A short biography, links to related sites and links to online editions of his works are here.

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