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Special Feature: George MacDonald

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Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby briofthesilversea » Sep 27, 2009 4:56 pm

Here you can discuss everything George MacDonald! Some of his works include Lilith, Phantastes, The Princess and the Goblin, and The Light Princess. He was also an inspiration to C.S. Lewis, meaning all of us here on Narniaweb should respect and read his books! ;) :p Discuss away!


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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby SnowAngel » Sep 27, 2009 6:00 pm

Hooah! I love his books. I was going to ask for an SF, but you beat me to it, bri. :D

My favorite George MacDonald books are The Laird Inheritance, The Highlander's Last Song, The Baron's Apprenticeship, The Fisherman's Lady, and The Marquis' Secret.

I love how GM mixed just right amount of spiritual truth, romance, and mystery.

C.S. Lewis said, "I never wrote a book in which I did not quote George MacDonald". B-)

And Janette Oke said of The Fisherman's Lady, "For those who love historical novels, here is one written with great authenticity- by a writer who was there."

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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby lysander » Sep 27, 2009 9:51 pm

So you tend towards his realistic, historical fiction titles, SnowAngel? Interesting. My dad started to read me The Shepherd's Castle aloud to me once, years ago, but I think at the time I found it dull i-) , and so we never finished it. Otherwise, my only experience is with his fantasy novels and fairy-stories.

In total, I've read The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie, At the Back of the North Wind, "The Light Princess," "The Golden Key," "The Wise Woman," "The Grey Wolf," and, most recently, Phantastes. I wasn't overly enamored with the latter—it was heavy on imagery but short on plot—but I loved all the stories I read when I was younger, particularly The Princess and the Goblin. These were favorites of my childhood, and I'd like to take the time out to rediscover them sometime. I'm also interested in giving Lilith a shot, although I hear it's much like Phantastes.

EDIT: Did anyone here ever happen to see the 70s TV adaptation of "The Light Princess"? I recall it being odd, a little scary, and very trippy, with live actors standing in front of hand-drawn, animated backdrops. :p There was also an interesting picture book made of that story, adapted by Robin McKinley with illustrations by Katie Thamer Treherne (names to conjure with!). There are many Maurice Sendak-illustrated volumes of his stories as well. [/random trivia]
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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby Avra » Sep 28, 2009 5:40 am

I've read The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie, At the Back of the North Wind and Lilith. Of all of them, The Princess and the Goblin is probably my favorite.
By the way, this may sound ridiculous, but does the titular "Princess" refer to Irene or her grandmother? I always thought it was Irene, but I heard somewhere it was her grandmother. :-\


The only one of the above that I didn't like was Lilith, although for the life of me I can't remember why! I don't think I "got" the story.
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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby Nioniel » Sep 28, 2009 7:58 am

Two of my all-time favourite books are Wee Sir Gibbie of the Highlands and Alec Forbes and His Friend Annie (yes, so they're abridged/adapted. Sorry. :p) I happen to think that despite the edition's unoriginalness, thy're pretty awesome.

I've also read The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie, The Golden Key and At The Back of the North Wind. I think it's about time I did a re-read of all of these. I can't remember anything about At The Back of the North Wind (except that it scared me...), I recall loving The Golden Key, but I can't recall what it was about (I assume it was about a golden key? Wasn't there some guy with a long beard in a little house by the sea too?) and I was flipping through The Princess and Curdie before I gave it away, and I realized that it was far more interesting than I had thought it was (In my defence, it was a BookCrossing book, and I don't like keeping those ;)) )

I've also had this weird idea that The Water Babies was by George Macdonald. Obviously not, but for years I thought that and I only learned just this year or so that Charles Kingsley wrote it. Maybe because I read TWB around the same time as ATBOTNW, and they were both large, square hardcovers? :P I was only about eight. ;;)

Does anyone else besides me want to call The Princess and Curdie, The Princess and the Curdie? Please say yes... :D
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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby daughter of the King » Sep 28, 2009 11:10 am

Hooray! Since George MacDonald was such an influence on C.S.Lewis, I was waiting for the day this thread would pop up.
I have read Princess and the Goblin, Princess and Curdie, The Light Princess, Lilith, At the Back of the North Wind, Gifts of the Christ Child, and I don't know how many others of his short stories. I've been meaning to read Phantastes but haven't gotten around to it yet.
I don't know how much Lilith is like Phantastes, but it is a little bit hard to follow near the beginning. I think that's mostly the language he uses though. (My sister says they aren't alike, she's actually read Phantastes) Remember in LWW the scene where Mr. Beaver is explaining the White Witch's origins? He says that on one side she came from the giants and on the other side she came from our father Adam's first wife Lilith. Lilith is a myth about Adam's first wife. It's an interesting read.
I heard part of Focus on the Family Radio Theater's version of At the Back of the North Wind. It sounded like a good adaptation.
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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby Phosphorus » Sep 28, 2009 11:22 am

Hmm, I've read Lilith, At the Back of the North Wind, Phantastes, The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie, The Golden Key and a few of his shorter children's works. It's been a while since I've read anything of MacDonald's, though. I love the imagery and the prose in his adult fiction, and the simple beauty of the children's fiction. I really need to read some of his historical fiction; I think I started one but it didn't seem to be leading anywhere.

And yes, the FonFRT adaptation of At the Back of the North Wind is marvelous. Almost as good as the Narnia adaptations.
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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby SnowAngel » Sep 28, 2009 2:46 pm

lysander wrote:So you tend towards his realistic, historical fiction titles, SnowAngel? Interesting. My dad started to read me The Shepherd's Castle aloud to me once, years ago, but I think at the time I found it dull i-) , and so we never finished it. Otherwise, my only experience is with his fantasy novels and fairy-stories.
Definitely. I have read all of the Phillips' adaptions except The Maiden's Bequest(I like the abridged version of it, Alec Forbes and His Friend Annie) of his historical fiction. My dad has all of GM's books that have been edited by Michael Phillips; there are about 10 more that haven't been edited by him.

I don't like The Shepherd's Castle very well either. :) I didn't find Donal Grant as interesting there as in The Baronet's Song.

I don't really like very much of his fantasy - not that I've read much of it - but I do like The Lost Princess.

I forgot The Baronet's Song to my list of favorites. :)

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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby Silvertongue » Sep 28, 2009 5:02 pm

I love George MacDonald's works! My top favorite of his, without a doubt, is "The Shepherd's Castle"! I first read it when I was fourteen, and was thoroughly creeped out, but loved it still. lol. I love his "The Princess and the Goblins", "The Baronet's Song", and "The Fisherman's Lady"!
I've been planning to read his "At the Back of the North Wind" for a while now, just haven't been able to pick it up yet. ;)
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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby Scarlet_Trefoil » Sep 28, 2009 5:52 pm

Oh, dear. :-s I don't know if I can pick just a handful of favorite George MacDonald books! *sighs* Well, in addition to the ones that lil sis mentioned:
SnowAngel wrote:The Laird's Inheritance, The Highlander's Last Song, The Baron's Apprenticeship, The Fisherman's Lady, and The Marquis' Secret.
I think I would have to choose The Tutor's First Love (Hugh is such an unlikely but endearing hero), The Maiden's Bequest (there has never been another girl quite as sweet as Annie!), and The Peasant Girl's Dream (I can almost smell the heather as I envision Kirsty flying over the hills). And I also have a soft spot in my heart for The Wise Woman, as I used to look at the illustrations in our copy by the hour. ;)

*shakes head wonderingly* Just think, I practically had to force SnowAngel read those titles a couple years ago and now she loves them as much as I do. ;;)


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Most emphatically YES! And I cannot seem to break myself of that subconscious habit. :p

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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby briofthesilversea » Sep 28, 2009 7:08 pm

I have only read two of his books. Phantastes and Lilith. I would say that Lilith was my favorite out of the two. I just love the way he writes things and words things. He's so elegant and intelligent. It takes me straight to a fairyland when I'm reading it. :)
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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby Warrior 4 Jesus » Sep 28, 2009 7:16 pm

Oh dear, I haven't read any of his stories but they sound intriguing, especially Lilith. I might try Phantastes and The Princess and the Goblin at some point too. I can't find any of his books at my local library, so I'll have to read them online.
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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby Phosphorus » Sep 29, 2009 7:15 am

Be warned, Warrior 4 Jesus, that you'll be hard pressed to find much plot in his adult fantasy fiction (though Lilith is better than Phantastes in this respect). It's more a series of images strung together. Either you read it for the slow, marvelous language, or you quickly get bored. ;) His children's fiction is quite different, but you have to be content with ambiguous symbolism, especially in The Golden Key. You know it means something, as is affecting as such, but you can't always put your finger on it.
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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby wisewoman » Sep 29, 2009 1:51 pm

You know, it took me the longest time to connect the George MacDonald of my mom's historical paperbacks to the George MacDonald of children's fantasy. They just seem so very different!

I read several of the historical books a long, long time ago and don't remember much about them. And I'm shamefully behindhand on his fantasy, too. The only one I've really read is The Wise Woman, given to me by a friend as a joke ;))

Maybe I will bump him up on my to-read list. Any suggestions for where I should start in his children's fantasy works?
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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby daughter of the King » Sep 29, 2009 4:35 pm

wisewoman, I would suggest beginning with The Princess and the Goblin. The Light Princess would also be a good one. You can follow that up with The Princess and Curdie, though it's very different from Princess and the Goblin, just to warn you.
At the Back of the North Wind is another good one. Another warning: most people either really hate it, or really love it.
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Re: Special Feature: George MacDonald

Postby Meltintalle » Sep 29, 2009 6:53 pm

ww, I second the motion for The Princess and the Goblin. :D

At the Back of the North Wind, especially illustrated by Jessie Wilcox Smith, is quite good, IMO. Has anyone heard the Radio Theatre production of it? :)

lys wrote:There was also an interesting picture book made of that story, adapted by Robin McKinley with illustrations by Katie Thamer Treherne (names to conjure with!).
Need. To. Find. 8-} :D
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