George MacDonald (1824-1905)

"Macdonald removes from our thinking every vestige of the image of God as a tyrant who is pleased with nothing less than the humanly impossible, and then who condemns man for not achieving it." --Rolland Hein.

George MacDonald, Scottish Victorian novelist, began his adult life as a clergyman and always considered himself a poet first of all. His unorthodox views resulted in a very short career in the pulpit, after which he turned to writing in earnest. He initially attracted notice for poetry and his adult fantasy, Phantastes, but once he turned to the writing of realistic novels in the early 1860s, his name became widely known throughout Great Britain and the U.S. Over the next thirty years he wrote some fifty books, including, in addition to the novels, more poetry, short stories, fantasy, sermons, essays, and a full-length study of Hamlet. His influential body of work placed him alongside the great Victorian men of letters and his following was vast.

MacDonald died in 1905 and his reputation gradually declined in the 20th century. Most of his books eventually went out of print as his name drifted from memory. A brief flurry of interest in his work was generated in 1924 at the centenary of his birth, resulting in several new editions of certain titles and the first major biography of his life, George MacDonald and His Wife, by his son Greville MacDonald

Obscure though his name gradually became, however, MacDonald was read and revered by an impressive gallery of well-known figures, both in his own time and in the years since. A few of these include G.K. Chesterton (who called him "one of the three or four greatest men of the 19th century"), W.H. Auden (who said that MacDonald was "one of the most remarkable writers of the 19th century"), Oswald Chambers (".how I love that man!"), and most notably C.S. Lewis. In spite of such a following, however, MacDonald's reputation gradually declined throughout the 20th century.

Lewis acknowledged his spiritual debt to MacDonald as so great that he published an entire anthology of quotations by MacDonald in hopes of turning the public toward his spiritual mentor in large numbers. In the Introduction to that volume Lewis wrote: "I dare not say that he is never in error; but to speak plainly I know hardly any other writer who seems to be closer, or more continually close, to the Spirit of Christ Himself.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."

Lewis's efforts, however, were but modestly successful, and for the most part only in literary circles. Notwithstanding Lewis's laudatory words, MacDonald's name continued to fall out of the public consciousness. Even C.S. Lewis was not able to spark widespread interest in the man he called his master. By the 1960s nearly all his work, except for a few stories and fairy tales, was out of print, though his inclusion, along with Lewis and his "inkling" friends, in the newly established Marion Wade Center at Wheaton College in Illinois promised that he would never be forgotten.

A resurgence of interest in this forgotten Victorian, primarily in the United States, began to mount in the 1970s and 1980s, given initial impetus by the work of Wheaton professor Dr. Rolland Hein, and then exploding into public view from the efforts of MacDonald redactor and biographer Michael Phillips. Phillips' work resulted in new generations of readers discovering anew the treasures in MacDonald's work, and led to a renewed publication of MacDonald's books on an unprecedented scale not seen since his own lifetime.

Taken from www.macdonaldphillips.com: the website of Michael Phillips and George MacDonald

George MacDonald quotes on universalism, and the love and justice of God.

Additional quotes from the wisdom of George MacDonald compiled by Michael Phillips

Writings of George MacDonald:

Fantasy:

Phantastes: A Fairie Romance for Men and Women (1858)
"Cross Purposes" (1862)
Adela Cathcart (1864), containing "The Light Princess", "The Shadows", and other short stories
The Portent: A Story of the Inner Vision of the Highlanders, Commonly Called "The Second Sight" (1864)
Dealings with the Fairies (1867), containing "The Golden Key", "The Light Princess", "The Shadows", and other short stories
At the Back of the North Wind (1871)
Works of Fancy and Imagination (1871), including Within and Without, "Cross Purposes", "The Light Princess", "The Golden Key", and other works
The Princess and the Goblin (1872)
The Wise Woman: A Parable (1875)
The Gifts of the Child Christ and Other Tales (1882; republished as "Stephen Archer" and Other Tales)
The Day Boy and the Night Girl (1882)
The Princess and Curdie (1883), a sequel to The Princess and the Goblin
The Flight of the Shadow (1891)
Lilith: A Romance (1895)

Realistic fiction:

David Elginbrod (1863; republished as The Tutor's First Love), originally published in three volumes
Alec Forbes of Howglen (1865; republished as The Maiden's Bequest)
Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood (1867)
Guild Court: A London Story (1868)
Robert Falconer (1868; republished as The Musician's Quest)
The Seaboard Parish (1869), a sequel to Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood
Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood (1871)
Wilfrid Cumbermede (1871–72)
The Vicar's Daughter (1871–72), a sequel to Annals of a Quiet Neighborhood and The Seaboard Parish
The History of Gutta Percha Willie, the Working Genius (1873), usually called simply Gutta Percha Willie
Malcolm (1875)
St. George and St. Michael (1876)
Thomas Wingfold, Curate (1876; republished as The Curate's Awakening)
The Marquis of Lossie (1877; republished as The Marquis' Secret), the second book of Malcolm
Paul Faber, Surgeon (1879; republished as The Lady's Confession), a sequel to Thomas Wingfold, Curate
Sir Gibbie (1879; republished as The Baronet's Song)
Mary Marston (1881; republished as A Daughter's Devotion)
Warlock o' Glenwarlock (1881; republished as Castle Warlock and The Laird's Inheritance)
Weighed and Wanting (1882; republished as A Gentlewoman's Choice)
Donal Grant (1883; republished as The Shepherd's Castle), a sequel to Sir Gibbie
What's Mine's Mine (1886; republished as The Highlander's Last Song)
Home Again: A Tale (1887; republished as The Poet's Homecoming)
The Elect Lady (1888; republished as The Landlady's Master)
A Rough Shaking (1891)
There and Back (1891; republished as The Baron's Apprenticeship), a sequel to Thomas Wingfold, Curate and Paul Faber, Surgeon
Heather and Snow (1893; republished as The Peasant Girl's Dream)
Salted with Fire (1896; republished as The Minister's Restoration)
Far Above Rubies (1898)

Poetry:

Twelve of the Spiritual Songs of Novalis (1851), privately printed translation of the poetry of Novalis
Within and Without: A Dramatic Poem (1855)
Poems (1857)
"A Hidden Life" and Other Poems (1864)
"The Disciple" and Other Poems (1867)
Exotics: A Translation of the Spiritual Songs of Novalis, the Hymn-book of Luther, and Other Poems from the German and Italian (1876)

Dramatic and Miscellaneous Poems (1876)
A Book of Strife, in the Form of the Diary of an Old Soul (1880), privately printed
The Threefold Cord: Poems by Three Friends (1883), privately printed, with Greville Matheson and John Hill MacDonald
Poems (1887)
The Poetical Works of George MacDonald, 2 Volumes (1893)
Scotch Songs and Ballads (1893)
Rampolli: Growths from a Long-planted Root (1897)

Nonfiction:

Unspoken Sermons (1867)
England's Antiphon (1868, 1874)
The Miracles of Our Lord (1870)
Cheerful Words from the Writing of George MacDonald (1880), compiled by E. E. Brown
Orts: Chiefly Papers on the Imagination, and on Shakespeare (1882)
"Preface" (1884) to Letters from Hell (1866) by Valdemar Adolph Thisted
The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke: A Study With the Test of the Folio of 1623 (1885)
Unspoken Sermons, Second Series (1885)
Unspoken Sermons, Third Series (1889)
A Cabinet of Gems, Cut and Polished by Sir Philip Sidney; Now, for the More Radiance, Presented Without Their Setting by George MacDonald (1891)
The Hope of the Gospel (1892)
A Dish of Orts (1893)
Beautiful Thoughts from George MacDonald (1894), compiled by Elizabeth Dougall

 

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