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George MacDonald's best fiction and best non-fiction

Plato to MacDonald to Chesterton, Tolkien and the Boys in the Pub.

Lilith recommended

Postby ainulindale » 09 Jun 2008, 21:09

I've only recently read Lilith and it has become my favorite of his books. The feeling I'm left with is similar to that in Lewis' "The Last Battle" -- a sense of peace about death and excitement about the eternal. Phantastes is also good, having a quality distinct from the other MacDonal books I've read. All of his childrens stories are beautifully interwoven with sparkling moral diamonds. -- there isn't one I wouldn't recommend.
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Postby blindlemonpie » 21 Jun 2008, 04:46

I found The Light Princess at my local library today, and I'm half-way through it.
:read: It was in the children's section, and I think it might be a bit germy as I seem to have a cold coming on.
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Postby David Jack » 23 Jun 2008, 16:54

I love the Light Princess! (and, like ainulindale, all the other short stories...The Golden Key, The Shadows, The Carasoyn etc.) I don't know if others here are aware of the non-fairy tale short stories? There may be more than those I've found, but 'Steven Archer and other Tales' contains some real gems-including the titular story and 'The gifts of the child christ' which has a real melancholy beauty about it.

I haven't read Lilith yet, but intend to fairly soon.
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Postby nomad » 30 Jul 2008, 01:24

My collection takes it's title from The Gifts of the Christ Child and includes both fairy tale and non-fairy tale stories. Stephen Archer was good. I also really liked Broken Swords.

And thanks for mentioning the Carasoyn... that was one I liked although I can't say why. I could go on because there's not a single dud in the book. I think the only one I diidn't particularly care for was The Castle. And I think I've alread mentioned that Phytogen and Nycteris (Day boy and Night girl) is one of my favorites.
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Postby David Jack » 30 Jul 2008, 09:26

i haven't read the castle or broken swords, but all the short stories i have read have been of the same high quality. the penguin short fiction has:

the light princess
the shadows
the giant's heart
the golden key
cross purposes
the carasoyn
the wise woman
little daylight
nanny's dream
diamond's dream
the history of photogen and nycteris.

that's from memory, but i think i've included them all. it's impossible to pick a favourite but i thought 'the wise woman' had a great moral beauty about it and 'little daylight' (which i read as part of 'at the back of the north wind' not as part of my short story collection) was simply enchanting.

they're all brilliant though. i've only read them once each but i'm sure i'll be going back to them again and again (which also goes for all the macdonald i've read so far.)
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Postby nomad » 05 Aug 2008, 00:58

Oh, sorry, I think it was The Broken Sword - singular. My collection doesnt have nanny's dream or diamond's dream. And I'm trying to remember what cross purposes was... help?

The main reason I didn't care for the castle was that it was a much more direct alegory than the rest. Which I found made it sorta flat.
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Postby David Jack » 05 Aug 2008, 09:28

well of course nanny's dream, diamond's dream and little daylight are all part of 'at the back of the north wind', so it's best to read them in that context (at least for the first time) though they do stand alone as fairy tales.

cross purposes is quite a simple story about faith. the queen of fairy land gets two of her subjects to abduct a boy and a girl from this world for her amusement. as i recall they don't like each other to begin with (or the girl, alice doesn't like richard, the boy) but they have to trust each other to extricate themselves from danger and get back to their own world.

i don't remember it that well because i've only read each story once-there being so much more macdonald for me to read before i revisit them!
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Postby nomad » 09 Aug 2008, 01:38

Yes - that's the one I was thinking. I quite liked that one. It's where they have this whole journey and by the end of it they've become adults, although you hadn't got the impression through the rest that they were growing up, so you have the idea that it comes as a surprise to them as well. Did they go back to being kids at home? If so, maybe there's a recognizable influence here on Narnia.
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Postby Larry W. » 09 Aug 2008, 10:20

I highly recommend MacDonald's books for church libraries. My own church's library has the romances in the modern abridged editions (more readable for the users) and the fairy tales. Although they are not checked out very often, I will often recommend them to people, especially if they are also interested in C. S. Lewis.

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Re: George MacDonald's best fiction and best non-fiction

Postby rumzy » 12 Aug 2008, 20:32

liriodendron wrote:I have been wanting to read some George MacDonald. Any recomendations? I generally prefer fiction because I can see how the author feels his philosophy applies in life. (I guess I have a learning style that understands principles better when I can see examples.)


I very much enjoyed The Princess and the Goblin and its sequel, The Princess and Curdie.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
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Re: George MacDonald's best fiction and best non-fiction

Postby David Jack » 26 Aug 2008, 12:49

rumzy wrote:
liriodendron wrote:I have been wanting to read some George MacDonald. Any recomendations? I generally prefer fiction because I can see how the author feels his philosophy applies in life. (I guess I have a learning style that understands principles better when I can see examples.)


I very much enjoyed The Princess and the Goblin and its sequel, The Princess and Curdie.


and for the realistic fiction i would suggest starting with 'annals of a quiet neighbourhood', for a number of reasons : 1) it is one of the few that is completely in english, being set there rather than in scotland 2) as a result, it is unedited, so you lose nothing of its value and 3) it is full of spiritual lessons and wisdom (not that the others aren't) being the memoirs of a minister, now nearing the end of his life, reflecting on his experiences during his first clerical post.
"This is and has been the Father’s work from the beginning-to bring us into the home of His heart.” George MacDonald.
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Postby Tumnus's Books » 31 Aug 2008, 01:19

I am currently reading Macdonald's Phantastes at the moment, and you can see some of the influence he provided for Lewis in sentence structure and turns of phrases...
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Postby David Jack » 03 Sep 2008, 11:04

absolutely. the same is true of many, if not most of macdonald's fantasy novels. in particular, i remember 'the wise woman' and 'lilith' having aspects that would be borrowed or adapted by lewis.
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Postby David Jack » 16 Oct 2008, 14:45

having now finished 'lilith' i can confidently add it to the list of macdonald's best books. it's a harder read than phantastes, but a worthy companion to it and comparable in terms of spiritual symbolism and 'fantastic imagination' (to borrow a term from the man himself.)
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Postby peterlloyd » 17 Nov 2008, 05:06

For those searching for Macdonald's books, try google book search - quickest way is advanced search for FULL VIEW and author GEORGE MACDONALD - there's quite a few available - downloadable and printable - for free!
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