Forum

Share:
Notifications
Clear all

C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald

Page 2 / 2
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

I've had a crisis of conscience and feel like I need to clarify that I really do enjoy C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. Since the comment I've written about it on this site was pretty dismissive, some people might think I dislike the book but I don't. I was referring to a specific quote which struck me as kind of awkwardly worded like the author was deliberately being vague because he didn't want to commit himself to an idea or was embarrassed by the one he was committed to. The reason this stands out to me is that the rest of the book, while philosophical in tone and subject matter, is worded very straightforwardly. (I'm sorry this post has so little to do with George Macdonald.)

For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen check out my new blog!

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 29, 2019 10:07 am
RhoopyDave
(@rhoopydave)
NarniaWeb Newbie

For anyone still following the thread, you may be interested to know that I've been translating MacDonald's (unabridged) original Scottish novels since 2016. These are classified as non-fantasy works, although Lewis says that the best of them, such as "Sir Gibbie" are the ones that come closest to fantasy. Until recently, these works have only been accessible to most readers in abridged form (the bulk of the abridgements were edited by Dan Hamilton or Michael Phillips, as mentioned above, and many of them have different titles from the originals.) The idea behind my translations is to make the original works, read by Lewis himself, accessible to non Scottish readers, but with the issue of the broad Scots dialogue finally resolved. On the other hand, Lewis rightly pointed out that the broad Scots is essential to the flavour so a unique double column format has been used to give readers the best of both worlds. Doug Gresham, who endorses all the translations (there are 5 to date, with 7 more to come) explains the basic format here:

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 30, 2021 6:46 pm
Narnian78 liked
coracle
(@coracle)
NarniaWeb's Auntie Moderator

Thanks, David!

In an informal interview with Doug Gresham at a C.S.Lewis conference in Sydney in 2006, he mentioned George MacDonald.

I'm just re-reading my notes from the conference, and found this:

Jack said he'd never written a line not influenced by McDonald. (“we should all read them every year!”) “I cannot stress highly enough the influence of George McDonald on Jack Lewis.”

One of the speakers, the late Chris Mitchell (then Director of the Wade Center) spoke about why Lewis wrote this way, his purpose and his goal, and described him very warmly in terms of yet another valuable writer.

He was like the G. K. Chesterton for his generation, -  the man who had “made the dead leaves of doctrine dance”.

 

 

There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
"...when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards."

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 17, 2021 8:43 pm
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Junkie

What is your favorite book of George MacDonald?  Mine is At the Back of the North Wind.  I liked the fantasy story of the boy Diamond and the North Wind. The story has a wonderful old fashioned fairy tale quality about it.  A shorter version on audiobook is on the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre and it is really a good way to get acquainted with the story.  Actually, I liked MacDonald’s fairy tales more than his romances.  I think people should read his books in our modern age and get back to a simpler way of life.  🙂

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 21, 2021 1:15 am
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Hospitality Committee

Ah, I thought we had a George MacDonald thread here already! Grin (I had to do some searching for it.)

I've just picked up two books of his from an excellent second hand bookshop very near me (at a wonderful National Trust property, Quarry Bank Mill, if anyone else here knows this part of England!) — I spotted them and recognised the name immediately and decided this couldn't be just coincidence. I haven't read any of MacDonald's works before, but I've been wanting to for a while, ever since I found out how much of an influence he was on C.S. Lewis (and a lot of other writers).

One of the books is a collection of four of MacDonald's short(ish) stories for children: The Golden Key, The Light Princess, Little Daylight, and The Day Boy and the Night Girl. The other is Phantastes! (I haven't forgotten what Lewis said about that one in Surprised by Joy.)

I'm planning to read them both very soon, starting with the children's stories, just as soon as I finish another book (unrelated to all this) that I'm currently reading. I will look forward to posting my impressions here! (And in the meantime, please, NO spoilers.) Wink  

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

ReplyQuote
Posted : August 29, 2022 7:27 am
Lady Arwen
(@wren)
The Mermod Moderator

The Day Boy and Night Girl is a favorite of mine, and I have my students read it in high school as we gear up to discuss factors that influenced the writings of Tolkien and Lewis. My all-time favorite is The Cruel Painter, though. 

Just as a warning, it takes MacDonald a while to warm up and actually start his stories, so I recommend giving him a little bit more of the benefit of the doubt than you might usually! 

Avatar thanks to AITB

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 3, 2022 5:03 pm
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Hospitality Committee
Posted by: @wren

Just as a warning, it takes MacDonald a while to warm up and actually start his stories, so I recommend giving him a little bit more of the benefit of the doubt than you might usually! 

I haven't yet finished the first story, The Golden Key. It's beautifully written and very intriguing, but I see what you mean about taking time to warm up — although it was quite engaging from the start, there are certainly some issues with the pacing that I'd be wanting to make suggestions about if I were his editor!! Grin But he was writing in a different era from ours, with different expectations and indeed with fewer distractions, so I can live with it. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where it's going in the end, and then comparing it and the other three stories in this collection once I've read them all.

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 4, 2022 9:15 am
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Junkie

I often have wondered how people become interested in George MacDonald’s books. Have most people loved his books because they read C.S Lewis first or did they see them in a church library or book store?  My guess is that in many cases it was Lewis that sparked their interest.  After finding out that Lewis was influenced by MacDonald they will give him a try and often like him. It was after reading Lewis that I first became interested and the book At the Back of the North Wind was the story that fascinated me. I then read The Golden Key, The Princess and the Goblin, and the other fairy tales and loved their quaintness and mystery.

This post was modified 1 month ago 3 times by Narnian78
ReplyQuote
Posted : September 4, 2022 11:24 am
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Hospitality Committee

@narnian78 It's definitely Lewis in my case — knowing that MacDonald was a huge influence on his writing and on his faith. That was reinforced by seeing people discussing MacDonald's works here in a Narnia-based web forum, and then I recognised the name when I happened to find two books by him in a local second hand bookshop (not a church-based or otherwise religious one, either)!

So far in The Golden Key, incidentally, I'm seeing a lot that could be taken as hinting at deeper metaphorical / spiritual connotations, but I haven't got close enough to the end to see exactly where it's heading, and there's certainly nothing I can pick out as specifically Christian symbolism so far. But there I can see a similarity to Lewis already — stories that definitely have something deeper going on, but they're not allegories. They're not specifically symbolic all the way through, in a this-stands-for-that kind of way, as opposed to genuine allegory like The Pilgrim's Progress or Hinds' Feet on High Places. (Have I ever mentioned that few things in Narnia commentary bug me more than the insistence of most critics (even some friendly ones, let alone the negative ones) that the Chronicles of Narnia are "allegorical" — which can only be coming from people who, unlike Lewis, have no idea what allegory actually is?!?! Angry )

No, this story by MacDonald so far is coming across as the sort of story that encourages you to think, rather than telling you what to think. I like that.

(I will write more about the actual stories and what I get out of them once I've finished reading them!! Wink )

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 4, 2022 12:23 pm
Narnian78 liked
Lady Arwen
(@wren)
The Mermod Moderator
Posted by: @narnian78

I often have wondered how people become interested in George MacDonald’s books. Have most people loved his books because they read C.S Lewis first or did they see them in a church library or book store? 

For me, it was neither! My grandmother was a rather peculiar woman, and always sent me gifts as a child that were inappropriate for my age (in the sense that, for my second birthday, she sent me a college applications guide for the next fall, not that she was giving me spicy water). Through absolutely no connection to that, I did happen to be an early reader, and read a lot of things that weren't quite right for my age (for instance, I began reading Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne when I was 7 or 8. Absolutely had no idea how to interpret pretty much anything I read because I had zero context for everything. The Fall of the House of Usher was a favorite of mine, and I had absolutely no idea I was dabbling in the horror genre).

Anyway, at one point, still in my single digits, I was digging through all the bookshelves I could reach looking for new reading material, and I found a box set of George MacDonald short stories. These were very likely another ill-timed gift from my grandmother, but I found them absolutely fascinating. No idea how I slogged through the slow starts as I did, but I do remember that The Cruel Painter was the first story where I actually understood what a vampire was (I had already run into Dracula, and concluded that it was far too long and tiresome of a book given that the main bad guy was just a weird dude with a backpack filled with life-sized mosquito proboscii). So all in all, I technically read MacDonald a good number of years before my parents even thought to introduce me to Narnia!

Avatar thanks to AITB

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 15, 2022 5:03 pm
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Junkie

@wren 

No matter how you were encouraged to read MacDonald, I am glad that you were introduced to him. We had a set of books in our home when we were children called The Junior Classics, and one of MacDonald’s stories, The Light Princess was in it. Since my mother read us children’s books that may have been the first time I ever heard a story written by MacDonald. I would always encourage parents and teachers to read books aloud to children. My first experience with Narnia as a child was in elementary school with a teacher reading the books to our class.  It was something very fondly memorable even though decades have passed. 🙂

This post was modified 3 weeks ago 6 times by Narnian78
ReplyQuote
Posted : September 16, 2022 5:07 am
coracle
(@coracle)
NarniaWeb's Auntie Moderator

My introduction to MacDonald was seeing one or two episodes at a friend's house,  of a BBC children's TV serial of The Princess and the Goblins. It must have been early 60s, and black and white, and my strongest memory is the ugly brutishness of the goblins.

About 10 years later, probably after being introduced to Lewis and Tolkien when I was 18, I began to look for the MacDonald books  I bought both the Curdie books, and enjoyed them. I found At the Back of the North Wind at the library, and recognised some of it from a children's radio serial in my childhood. I also borrowed The Light Princess, but thought it very much a child's story. 

As an English Lit student I could see a degree of similarity between these and Narnia, but in very different styles.

Did Victorian fantasy always feel dark, or did I think that from the dark illustrations? Arthur Rackham's were certainly full of curious and mysterious elements!

There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
"...when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards."

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 16, 2022 1:37 pm
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Junkie

@coracle 

I didn’t even know that anyone had tried to make a TV version of MacDonald’s books. It makes me wonder what a TV version of At the Back of the North Wind would be like.  If it were done today people would expect a lot of technology and would probably criticize it if it were made more like a play. But years ago TV shows based on books were more like televised plays (remember the the Dickens dramas on Masterpiece Theatre and the BBC?). Today people want a higher budget and sophisticated special effects, which weren’t so important back then.

This post was modified 2 weeks ago 6 times by Narnian78
ReplyQuote
Posted : September 22, 2022 4:20 am
Lady Arwen
(@wren)
The Mermod Moderator
Posted by: @coracle

Did Victorian fantasy always feel dark, or did I think that from the dark illustrations? Arthur Rackham's were certainly full of curious and mysterious elements!

Given that Victorian culture had a gross obsession with death and the macabre, I would lean more toward it generally feeling dark. I think a lot of darkness is in the eye of the beholder, though--the darkness I think only serves to make the light points "shine even brighter". Plus, without it, the dry, satirical humor just doesn't make as much sense. 

Avatar thanks to AITB

ReplyQuote
Posted : September 23, 2022 11:09 am
Page 2 / 2
Share: