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GM's Lilith

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

Re: GM's Lilith

Postby Lioba » 02 Nov 2009, 10:57

Hi, nomad, about the White Witch- I tend to draw parallels between her and Lilith- but no spoilers :smile: and so I will stop here.
Night and Darkness are not absolutely negative in this story, although evil forces are set loose. But their are also good ones.
Maybe that´s the one gerat difference between him and writers like Poe or E.T.A. Hoffmann.
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby Robert » 02 Nov 2009, 15:24

I can't say that Lilith was one of my favorite of MacDonald's. In fact, I struggled getting through it. Naturally it had some of the charm that is so characteristic of him, but overall I rather disliked it. The Phantastes captivated me. And At the Back of the North Wind inspired a whole new view on the world, society, people, disability and an almost infinite number of other new perspectives. But Lilith really did very little for me. Perhaps I should read it again.
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby larry gilman » 04 Nov 2009, 21:31

I love Lilith almost as much as I love MacDonald's only other novel-length fantasy, Phantastes (my wife loves Lilith more, but we forgive each other).

Has anyone else read Lewis's two-page exegesis of Lilith from 1933 (letters to Arthur Greeves, pp. 459-461)? Maybe I should scan and put up a PDF for download . . .
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby Lioba » 04 Nov 2009, 22:50

I didn´t read this and I´m afraid I have not much of a chance to find it here in Germany. So I would really be gratefull for a download.
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby larry gilman » 05 Nov 2009, 15:16

Here is a PDF of the complete letter:

[link removed -- see next post, below]

The letter is fascinating, but I am not myself much attracted to Lewis's allegorical treatment of Lilith. There are clearly allegorical elements or possibilities in the book, but MacDonald's dream-romances are not allegories: their meaning cannot be extracted like a vitamin, but resides in the whole experience they trigger in each reader (and therefore varies somewhat with each reader). They are, in the terms that Lewis himself came to deploy in later years, more mythical than allegorical. Still, it is interesting to see Lewis's 1933 thinking on the matter.

By the way, you may be interested to know that the German author Novalis (Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg) was an influence on MacDonald.

Regards,

Larry
Last edited by larry gilman on 05 Nov 2009, 21:16, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby larry gilman » 05 Nov 2009, 21:16

To obviate copyright concerns, I have removed the direct link to the letter above. Instead, anybody who e-mails me at lnpgilman [ a t ] wildblue [ d o t ] net will receive a free, directly shared, non-publicly-available copy of the abovementioned PDF document for self-educational use in accordance with Title 17 of the US code, which states that "the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright" (http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107).
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby nomad » 07 Nov 2009, 22:21

So far, I'm liking Lilith better than Phantastes. I'm not sure why, as they are both very similar. Both involve the main character finding himself in a strange world and proceeding through a series of encounters with odd characters. (I wonder if it's possible to trace an influence on Lewis Carroll). I think my expectations for Phantastes were higher, since I only knew how much Lewis loved it. Whereas I've read several less-than-enthusiastic comments by people here in the forums about Lilith.

*SPOILERS*
One of the things about the structure is that it allows MacDonald to mix allegory with the mythical, or faerytale. There are some segments that are overtly allegorical - such as the sleepers being healed, the reflected light of the moon(s) keeping the evil creatures at bay. Other parts are less clearly symbolic, or may have more to do with the aesthetic of the imagery than with symbol or allegory -like the appearance of the sexton/librarian as a raven. A lot like Lewis' Narnia - Aslan's death and resurrection are clearly allegorical; Mrs. Beaver's sewing machine not so much.
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby larry gilman » 08 Nov 2009, 16:16

"A lot like Lewis' Narnia - Aslan's death and resurrection are clearly allegorical; Mrs. Beaver's sewing machine not so much."

Yes, well put. MacDonald does blend modes freely too, though not in Lewis's style.

In Lilith the whole Lilith motif is very moving to me: but I find the Lovers and everything to do with them a bit hard to take. It's a matter of taste. In any case To me, in any case, both Lilith and Phantastes are very valuable books.

Regards,

Larry
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby nomad » 10 Nov 2009, 04:25

*SPOILER*

OMG, the chapter 16, with the skeleton couple in the carriage is HILARIOUS!!! :lol: :clap:
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby Lioba » 10 Nov 2009, 20:39

Yes it is great! Especially the story behind it.
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby dmelton1 » 14 Nov 2009, 04:57

I thoroughly enjoyed Lilith up until the end. I believe MacDonald's universalism painted him into a box where he could not "follow through" the appropriate story arc for her. The imagery was amazing and imagination superb. However, GM seemed trapped by his theology and ended the tale in a thoroughly unsatisfying manner.
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby larry gilman » 14 Nov 2009, 21:33

Ah -- interesting -- do I take you to mean that there should have been some sort of Hell-fate for Lilith?

My own reaction to the ending is that it is very beautiful -- esp. vis-a-vis Lilith herself -- but of course there is no way to adjudicate these reactions, they simply occur.

Regards,

Larry
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby nomad » 16 Nov 2009, 04:49

Oooh... don't give away the end yet! Though it's already been hinted at.

Lioba - now that I know who Lilith is, I see why you'd draw a connection between her and the White Witch. Goodness, there's an awful lot of skeletons and dead or seemingly dead things in this book.

So far, I take the Lovers and the Giants to be archetypes of the innocent and the stupidly evil (as opposed to Lilith, who is cunningly evil and her subjects who are just flat out selfish).
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby larry gilman » 16 Nov 2009, 14:05

Oops -- sorry about pseudo-spoiler -- I will be very careful in future. My apologies.

Lovers, Giants -- I would urge the notion that these are not types of actual people (innocent versus brutalized, for example), even archetypes of actual types, but rather types of us inside us. Or parts of us come to life in a mythical way. Or new imaginative creations that spring, in some part, from aspects of the inner self. (But I guess all fictional characters must be that!)

One of the things that first struck me about MacDonald, reading his novels, is that he doesn't divide the world into Nice people and Not-Nice people, static goodies and static baddies, but sees all people as works in progress, bowls on the Potter's wheel, even the nastiest. He really believes it. After a lifetime of good-guy/bad-guy fiction, it was a bracing shock.

Love,

L
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Re: GM's Lilith

Postby deadwhitemale » 17 Nov 2009, 06:32

I love both books, but I love bits and pieces of both better than either book's whole, if that makes any sense. I think I would give a slight edge to Phantastes, because of how moved I was by what I think is its thirteenth chapter, "The Tale of Cosmo" (a.k.a. "The Woman In the Mirror"), and by one other part I can't describe without major spoilage. On the other hand, that whole part where Lilith begged Adam to fetch the sword that the angel had once guarded Eden with was also very moving.

BTW, I have at least once had the unhappy experience of having to explain to someone, after referring to Lilith in passing, or quoting a line from it, that, no, the title character is NOT the heroine of it. In one case it was online, someone who posted under the name "Medea" (after the mythical sorceress and murderess of her own children, though she played a partly sympathetic role in the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece). I had no wish to mislead her, and had to tell her frankly that this book was not the place to look for a feminist icon.

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