George MacDonald: An Anthology. Edited with a preface by C. S. Lewis. San Francisco: Harper, 2001. 224 pages.
The selections in George MacDonald: An Anthologywere chosen and edited by one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis. Lewis was profoundly influenced by MacDonald both before and after Lewis’ conversion to Christianity. In the preface to this book he writes “I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him.”
I am fascinated by the literary influences upon great authors (I was a contributor to the anthology Biographical Dictionary of Literary Influences: The Nineteenth Century, 1800-1914 and at some future time I will share part of my article on Soren Kierkegaard). Thus, the literary influence of MacDonald upon C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, W. H. Auden, and Madeleine L’Engle was a great stimulus to me reading this book.
Perhaps I came to George MacDonald: An Anthology with too great expectations. I could hardly wait to read great words of wisdom and experience the accompanying intellectual stimulation. I expected challenging ideas, unique word choices, witty rejoinders to the questions and claims of great thinkers, and material sufficient to occupy and sustain me in numerous conversations with my students and friends. What I actually encountered was pretty basic stuff.
Don’t misunderstand me, — I do not mean to say that the selections are not good, nor suggest that they are uninteresting. But, they fell far short of what I expected.
The book includes 365 selections. That number would ordinarily suggest to me that they might have originally been intended as daily readings, however, most of the selections are only a few sentences long so this would make a poor choice for a daily devotional.
Lewis appends source information that will assist those attempting to track down the original matter. This might be of more help than one would expect, for I suspect that one of the reasons that I was unimpressed by the selections is that they were removed from the context of a larger, more comprehensive work.
Lewis also includes a bibliography. George MacDonald, an ordained Congregational preacher, published fifty-seven books during his lifetime (1824-1905), many of which remain very popular today. You will find below a partial list of his works:
- Within and Without (1856)
- Poems (1857)
- Phantastes (1858)
- David Elginbrod. 3 volumes (1863)
- Adela Cathcart. 3 volumes (1864)
- Alec Forbes of Howglen. 3 volumes (1865)
- Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood. 3 volumes (1867)
- Unspoken Sermons (first series 1867, second series 1885, third series 1889)
- The Golden Key (1867)
- Robert Falconer (1868)
- The Seaboard Parish (1868)
- The Miracles of Our Lord (1870)
- At the Back of the North Wind (1871)
- Ranald Bannerman’s Boyhood (1871)
- The Princess and the Goblin (1872)
- The Vicar’s Daughter (1872)
- The History of Gutta-Percha Willie, the Working Genius (1873)
- Malcolm (1875)
- The Wise Woman, or The Obstinate Princess: A Double Story (1875)
- The Marquis of Lossie (1877)
- Sir Gibbie (1879)
- Donal Grant (1883)
- The Princess and Curdie (1883, sequel to ‘ The Princess and the Goblin ‘)
- The Elect Lady (1888)
- The Light Princess and Other Fairy Tales (1890)
- Lilith (1895)
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52/07 – A Book Odyssey
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