George MacDonald occupied a major position in the intellectual life of his Victorian contemporaries. This volume brings together all eleven of his shorter fairy stories as well as his essay "The Fantastic Imagination". The subjects are those of traditional fantasy: good and wicked fairies, children embarking on elaborate quests, and journeys into unsettling dreamworlds. Within this familiar imaginative landscape, his children's stories were profoundly experimental, questioning the association of childhood with purity and innocence, and the need to separate fairy tale wonder from adult skepticism and disbelief.
George Macdonald (1824-1905) was born at Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where his father was a miller and his family Congregationalists. As a young man he was ordained a minister of the Congregational church but he resigned after a disagreement with his deacons over doctrine, and from 1853 he earned his living by lecturing and writing, often in poor health, which meant periodic travelling in search of purer air for his lungs. In 1851 he married Louisa Powell, with whom he spent a long and happy life, sadly ending in grief when three of his thirteen children died of tuberculosis and he suffered a stroke that deprived him of speech for his last five years.
He was a prolific writer, yet it is his fantasies for children that have survived. The Princess and the Goblin was the second of these, published first as a serial in Good Words for the Young, a periodical of which he became editor for a short time in 1869. About a hundred years later W.H. Auden wrote, 'To me, George MacDonald's most extraordinary, and precious, gift is his ability, in all his stories, to create an atmosphere of goodness about which there is nothing phone or moralistic. Nothing is rarer in literature.'
Suggestions for Further Reading
A Note on the Texts
The Fantastic ImaginationFrom ADELA CATHCARTThe Light Princess
The Giant's Heart
From DEALINGS WITH THE FAIRIESCross Purposes
The Golden Key
From AT THE BACK OF THE NORTH WINDLittle Daylight
LATER TALESThe Carasoyn
The Wise Woman, or The Lost Princess: A Double Story
The History of Photogen and Nycteris: A Day and Night Mährchen
5.1"W x 7.7"H x 0.8"D