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Phantastes by George MacDonald

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Phantastes by George MacDonald

Postby Adastra » 01 Sep 2007, 20:05

:coffee:
Okay....shame on me if there's already been a thread about this book by George MacDonald...I haven't looked as deeply into this website as I could have.

I've read this book several years ago, and I'm thinking of picking it back up off my bookshelf and re-reading it. I know this book is what Lewis commented on as "baptising" his imagination. Other than being a general fairy-tale, I'm wondering if there's something I've missed...

...So I'm wondering, has anyone else read this book? If so, what did you think?

Thanks!
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Phantastes

Postby Kanakaberaka » 02 Sep 2007, 03:18

It's been a few years since I read George MacDonald's Phantastes. But images from this book remain in my memory even though the general outline of the story has faded. Then again, the story was rather rambling. It was the impressions along the way that mattered. I still remember the protagonist enjoying a library inhabited by invisible elves. And a sorceress who appeared to be beautiful from the front, yet appeared to be a rotting log from behind.
so it goes...
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Postby rusmeister » 03 Sep 2007, 00:38

I guess my expectations caused disappointment in what I read. I quit halfway through the book (this was only a couple of years ago). I found it supremely uninteresting. I think it's something to return to again and try again in a couple of years.
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Postby Rosie Cotton » 03 Sep 2007, 01:06

I did get it more about the third time I read it :rolleyes:
... and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.
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Postby David Jack » 04 Sep 2007, 12:59

i've only read phantastes once, but that was a few months back so it's still fresh in my memory. i have to say i think it was an astounding book, though it would be difficult to say exactly what it 'did to me'. it certainly affected me on an emotional level most of all, sometimes so deeply as to be beyond analysing (at least for now) but probably the predominant feeling it produced was that of comfort. of course you have to empathise with anodos in his times of heartache before you can sense the comfort, but the scene where he lies down under the shade of the beech tree, and the chapter in the cottage where he is ministered to by the old woman had the profoundest influence on me. i have mentioned this before on the forums but the latter example (which takes place in chapter 19) immediately made me think of 'the peace that passes all understanding' and, ironically, made me understand that expression more than i ever had before. and of course because it impacts one on such a subconscious level, i can totally understand the whole 'baptism of the imagination' concept.
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Postby David Jack » 13 Sep 2007, 11:52

of course the story as a whole symbolises Scotland's 1-0 win in Paris yesterday, but I don't want to patronise anyone by stating the obvious.
"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 Kanakaberaka » 13 Sep 2007, 16:46

David Jack wrote:of course the story as a whole symbolises Scotland's 1-0 win in Paris yesterday, ...


Coming from Mac Donald, I though it was an allegory about golf :rolleyes: .
so it goes...
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Postby Robert » 17 Sep 2007, 14:21

Yes, and it is one of my favorites. I have read it several times, and plan on reading it an infinite number of times again.
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Postby Jill-at-the-Well » 19 Jan 2008, 05:58

I read both Phantastes and Lillith a little less than a year ago. I, also, remember little of the plot of Phantastes, but remember the impression of loveliness and imagination, of dreamy forms and fairytales, of bravery and doubt, of hope and peace and sanctification. Perhaps the dearest part was the mirror story. When I finished that section I went and read it over again straight away, grateful that I, unlike Lucy, was able to do so.

Lillith I remember in more detail. I found it very gripping, perhaps because I identified with the title character (as odd as that is...) I also loved the images of sanctification.

I kinda want to reread them now...
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Postby The Pfifltrigg » 21 Jan 2008, 05:59

I'm with Jill-at-the-Well in a lot of ways. Phantastes was good and full of lovely imagery, but disjointed. I remember the shadow that dogged Anodos' steps and the cottage with four doors (and the old woman there), and a few other things y'all mentioned, but its lack of apparent coherence weakened it for me. I much preferred Mr. Vane's library in Lilith, and the adventures there, because the story hung together so well. Sure, I disagree with his theological points in a few key spots, but as a whole it is the better of the two books.
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Freedom lost and then regained bites with deeper fangs than freedom never in danger. — Cicero
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Postby Jill-at-the-Well » 22 Jan 2008, 06:12

I have a weakness for enjoying theological discussion/debate, so I'm going to ask - on what points did you disagree with his theology?

Oh, and you can call me Jill for short, if you want. Jill-at-the-well is a bit to type out.
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Postby The Pfifltrigg » 23 Jan 2008, 04:11

The main issue (in Lilith) was the universalism: even the devil will get to heaven in the end. Most of it was just fine and rather fun, if a bit surreal.
False ideas may be refuted indeed by argument, but by true ideas alone are they expelled. — Apologia Pro Vita Sua: Cardinal Newman
Freedom lost and then regained bites with deeper fangs than freedom never in danger. — Cicero
You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. — Ray Bradbury
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Postby Jill-at-the-Well » 23 Jan 2008, 04:34

Hmm. Does it really say that the devil will be saved? Lillith wasn't the devil, you know - at least that wasn't how I saw it. I wish I had that book with me...
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"I daren't come and drink," said Jill.
"Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion.
"Oh dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer. "I suppose I must go and look for another stream then."
"There is no other stream," said the Lion.
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Postby The Pfifltrigg » 27 Jan 2008, 06:24

The Shadow, who comes into the story from time to time and is more evil than Lilith, if possible, but incorporeal to the point that Mr. Vane rides right through him (by God's help) in one scene, is the representation of Lucifer in the novel Lilith, and probably also in Phantastes, although he plays a different role in the latter. There's a comment, late in the book, to the effect that in the end (but not likely before), even the Shadow will be redeemed.
False ideas may be refuted indeed by argument, but by true ideas alone are they expelled. — Apologia Pro Vita Sua: Cardinal Newman
Freedom lost and then regained bites with deeper fangs than freedom never in danger. — Cicero
You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. — Ray Bradbury
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Postby nomad » 27 Jan 2008, 12:44

I also found it a bit disjointed, but I don't really mind disjointed - probably because I tend to be disjointed. Somehow, the older I get the more I relish in absurdity and disconnection. I seem to find it more realistic, I guess. Which is ironic, not to say absurd.

Besides some things already mentioned, like the shadow that followed anados, one of the scenes that marked me was where the knight told his story about the girl with the delicate wings who was being chased and beaten by invisible enemies. In the last year or two I seem to have found myself in the position of that knight, as friends I care about are assailed by invisible enemies (particularly depression) and I, with my so-called "even-keeled, strong and stable disposition" am reduced to trying to help by swinging blindly at things I can't see. It is a humbling experience. It's been a couple years since I read it though... am I right in recalling that the knight started to see the creatures as he started striking at them?
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