Monday, August 9, 2010

Phantastes - George MacDonald

Phantastes by George MacDonald
Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Rating: 8
Readability: 7
Impact: 7

Read it Again: I certainly think it would be interesting at some point.
Recommend It: Yes, if you want an unusual read.

What to Expect

A novel typical of George MacDonald's fantasy sends you on an interesting ride through the random yet profound, romantic symbolism of a tale of the inner and outer journey.

My Squib

Everyone remotely interested in fantasy should read George MacDonald.
How ever bazaar and romanticized his work may be, he is truly deserves the title "the father of fantasy".
So many great authors have been profoundly influenced by his work. C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton attribute much of their inspiration to him.

I have never been a fantasy fanatic. I have read a lot of George MacDonald's more "Gothic" novels, but this is actually my first fantasy of his.
Like his other books, it took me about 50 pages to get hooked. From then on it was an easy read.

If you can get over the fact that we no think of fairies as rather childish experiences and so forth, you will enjoy this book to a greater degree.

It has some very cool symbolism, incredible stories, utter bazaarness, innocent romance, and a pure portrayal of honor.

I don't really feel like I caught all of it (but who says he meant for everything to be allegorical?). I really enjoyed it.

Thank you, Hadley, for recommending it and letting me borrow it!

From the Book

I admit that I copied an awful lot of this book out. Most of George MacDonald's writing bothers me. A lot of it is choppy. Some of it just seems absurd. But every once in awhile he really hits something absolutely beautiful.
I can't begin to copy those passages here. I encourage you to pick up the book yourself and fine those few, but precious, gold mines.

"...some strange melodious bird took up its song, and sang, not an ordinary bird-song, with constant repetition of the same melody, but what sounded like a continuous strain, in which one thought was expressed, deepening in intensity as it evolved in progress.
It sounded like a welcome already overshadowed with the coming farewell. As in all sweetest music, a tinge of sadness was in every note. Nor do we know how much of the pleasures even of life we owe to the intermingled sorrows.
Joy cannot unfold the deepest truths, although deepest truths be deepest joy.
Cometh white-robed Sorrow, stooping and wan, and flingeth wide the doors she may not enter. Almost we linger with Sorrow for very love."

"He was in fact a poet without words; the more absorbed and endangered, that the springing waters were dammed back into his soul, where, finding no utterance, they grew, and swelled, and undermined.
He used to lie on his coach, and read a tale of a poem, till the book dropped from his hand, but he dreamed on, he knew not whether awake or asleep, until the opposite roof grew upon his sense and turned golden in the sunrise."

"O light of dead and dying days!
O love; in glory go,
In a rosy, misty, and moony maze,
O'er the pathless peaks of snow.

But what is left for the cold gray soul,
That moans like a wounded dove?
One wine is left in the broken bowl-
'Tis- to love, and love, and love.

Better to sit at the waters' birth,
Than a sea of waves to win;
To live in love that floweth forth,
Than the love that cometh in.

Be thy heart a well of love, my child,
Flowing, and free, and sure;
For a cistern of love, through undefiled,
Keeps not the spirit pure."

"If I mistake not, he will make you weep till your tears are dry forever. Tears are the only cure for weeping."

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