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Wildside Press

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MacDONALD, George

George MacDonald (1824-1905) was a Scottish author, teacher, and, briefly, clergyman, whose theology was too personal and idiosyncratic for him to remain on the pulpit for very long, but whose imagination led him to write two of the most important visionary novels of the 19th century. Both Phantastes (1858) and Lilith (1895) are dream novels, which, as C.S. Lewis described them, hover "between the allegorical and the mythopoeic."

While MacDonald was explicitly a Christian writer, and influenced by John Bunyan, he broke free of the sort of strict point-for-point allegory found in medieval morality plays and produced something which followed the logic of dreams and delved into the subconscious in a manner which, in a pre-Freudian, pre-Jungian era, was quite revolutionary. His major novels, particularly Lilith, are kin to Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, but much darker in tone. They are clear ancestors of David Lindsay’s amazing A Voyage to Arcturus (1920) and much of Lewis’s work, but of broad enough appeal to win the praise of the decidedly irreligious H.P. Lovecraft, whose "Supernatural Horror in Literature" praises Lilith for its "“compelling bizarrerie all its own." Both of MacDonald's major novels are inner night-journeys of self-discovery, in which characters venture into perilous otherworlds fraught with hidden meanings.