How do I characterize George MacDonald’s sermons? I’ve been thinking about this question off and on for several days. I’ve been reading his Unspoken Sermons for a couple of years now, a little at a time, because it’s inconceivable to take them in more than the smallest bites. There is a prophetic depth and unity to George MacDonald’s comprehension of God that demands every bit of intellectual effort I have to offer, every bit of concentration. It’s like he’s tapped into the underground stream of…Continue Reading “Recent Reading: George MacDonald”

…[We] began to find that we doubted a great deal of what seemed to have happened to us. It was as if the gates of the unseen world were closing against us, because we had shut ourselves up in the world of the present. But we let it go gladly. We felt that love was the gate to an unseen world infinitely beyond that region of the psychological in which we had hitherto moved; for this love was teaching us to love all men, and…Continue Reading “The Portent”

I’ve been revisiting George MacDonald lately. I knew him first as the one whose Phantastes C.S. Lewis credited with “baptizing his imagination.” Then I explored some of his children’s books, and more recently a Gothic romance. Slowly I’ve been accumulating impressions and experiences of this writer. I didn’t realize that he was also a well-respected poet, and frequently a guest lecturer on poetry. This week I learned that MacDonald was an admirer of Browning, an acquaintance of Tennyson, and such a fan of Coleridge that…Continue Reading “Diary of an Old Soul”

This is the book that C.S. Lewis read one day on a train and felt his imagination had been “baptized.” I read it back when I was in college and it didn’t capture me. But recently, after reading more of George MacDonald’s books and being intrigued, I decided to try again. I thought I didn’t remember it, and it’s partly true; it was mixed up in my memory with Lilith, another of MacDonald’s tales I read around the same time. But I was surprised to…Continue Reading “Phantastes”

Any story always tells me itself what I’m to think about it… I never can tell what they call clever from what they call silly, but I always know whether I like a story nor not. So says Diamond, the angelic little boy at the center of George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind. He’s a small boy whose age is never given, but he’s already ahead of me, because I can’t quite make up my mind whether I “like” this book. It’s…Continue Reading “At the Back of the North Wind”

These days I use the library as much as possible, but every once in awhile I come across a book I simply must have. George MacDonald’s The Golden Key is such a book. It’s an allegory, written for children and only 78 pages long. But it’s compact and mystical enough that I know I’ll want to return to it often. And I know there are scenes in it I’ll never forget. This one, for instance, when Tangle (the heroine) and Mossy (the hero) make their…Continue Reading “The Golden Key”

Here she is: Princess Irene of The Princess and the Goblin . She’s following the thread spun by her mysterious grandmother, who lives in a tower, keeps pigeons, and reveals herself only to Irene. That thread helps her to stay oriented in the caves of the goblins as she rescues Curdie, a miner boy who in his turn rescues her when the goblins erupt into her living room and kidnap her to be their queen. Over the last week and a half I’ve been reading…Continue Reading “The Princess and Curdie”

The Light Princess is a book of about 110 pages that I unearthed in the library’s juvenile section. There are a few etexts available (listed here), but this is the version I read. I’ve read a few other MacDonald stories: Phantastes (years ago), Lilith, and The Princess and the Goblin. C.S. Lewis felt his imagination was “baptised” by Phantastes; me, not so much. Nor Lilith. But I’ve enjoyed both his tales for children immensely. The authorial voice of this one is less grandfatherly than in The Princess and…Continue Reading “The Light Princess”