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Phantastes by George MacDonald

Phantastes (1858)

by George MacDonald

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 31 mentions

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" ... a wonderful book." (MRJ to Gwendolen McBryde, 1 October 1919; printed in Letters to a Friend (p. 93)
1 vote | MontagueRhodesJames | Jan 13, 2018 |
It's a lovely book, and holds up pretty well for something written 160-something years ago. Plot is slight, character development is minimal, but language is beautiful and overall, charming. ( )
  Jon_Hansen | Apr 16, 2017 |
This book begins with a great introduction by C.S. Lewis (is that why Amazon has it grouped under Christian fiction?!?). If it weren't for that intro, I'm not sure I would have gotten through it. There's interesting imagery throughout, but the narrator is the supreme king of passive drift. I am now, finally, convinced that passive main characters cripple a story's forward drive.

There are also a few spots of plot in various short stories embedded in the narrative, so it's not a total loss, and it is an interesting read for its historical influence on the genre. I just found it kind of boring. ( )
1 vote Amelia_Smith | May 2, 2015 |
no storytelling here, just tale after tale, anecdote after anecdote of adventures, great and small of a lone traveler in Faerie. rich descriptions and wonderful ideas about realms of elves and fairies and goblins and Otherworld entities fill this book.

i'll let MacDonald himself convey this: "But see the power of this book, that, while recounting what I can recall of its contents, I write as if myself had visited the far-off planet, learned its ways, and apprearances, and conversed with its men and women. And so, while writing, it seemed to me that I had." (from Chapter XII)

i can certainly see MacDonald's influence in Lewis but, moreso, in Tolkien. some of MacDonald's descriptions of wandering through the Faerie wood sound just like Tolkien describing the animated Old Forest or timeless Lothlorien wherein lived Bombadil and Galadriel. reminiscent of a Midsummer's Night Dream, fantastical events unfold before our protagonist, Anodos, in the woods of Faerie over more than a single night in this book, but still waking in the morning with memory to wonder if it were all just dreaming of love and shadows. ( )
2 vote keebrook | Mar 10, 2015 |
This is a neat little book. It's a bit episodic, and a little flowery, but it's really vivid; there's some terrific imagery in here.

It's the story of some dude who goes to fairy land and wanders around mooning after some lady. There are giants and goblins. It's considered one of the first fantasy novels, and a big influence on CS Lewis and Tolkien. It makes for a nice bridge between medieval fantasy precursors like Morte D'Arthur and Beowulf* and the later official fantasy genre.

* what? There are knights and monsters, what did you think fantasy was?

It changed CS Lewis's life, judging from his fawning introduction, but it didn't change mine. I don't even like fantasy. But it's pretty cool. ( )
1 vote AlCracka | Apr 2, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George MacDonaldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carter, LinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gallardo, GervasioCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hughes, ArthurCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lamb, JimCover Artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewis, C. S.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Phantastes from 'their found' all shapes deriving,

In new habiliments can quickly dight."

FLETCHER'S Purple Island
[Chapter VII]

"Fight on, my men, Sir Andrew sayes,

A little Ime hurt, but yett not slaine,

Ile but lye downe and bleede awhile,

And then Ile rise and fight againe."

Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton
First words
I awoke one morning with the usual perplexity of mind which accompanies the return of consciousness.
Afterwards I learned, that the best way to manage some kinds of painful thoughts, is to dare them to do their worst; to let them lie and gnaw at your heart till they are tired; and you find you still have a residue of life they cannot kill.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802860605, Paperback)

"I was dead, and right content," the narrator says in the penultimate chapter of Phantastes. C.S. Lewis said that upon reading this astonishing 19th-century fairy tale he "had crossed a great frontier," and numerous others both before and since have felt similarly. In MacDonald's fairy tales, both those for children and (like this one) those for adults, the "fairy land" clearly represents the spiritual world, or our own world revealed in all of its depth and meaning. At times almost forthrightly allegorical, at other times richly dreamlike (and indeed having a close connection to the symbolic world of dreams), this story of a young man who finds himself on a long journey through a land of fantasy is more truly the story of the spiritual quest that is at the core of his life's work, a quest that must end with the ultimate surrender of the self. The glory of MacDonald's work is that this surrender is both hard won (or lost!) and yet rippling with joy when at last experienced. As the narrator says of a heavenly woman in this tale, "She knew something too good to be told." One senses the same of the author himself. --Doug Thorpe

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:36 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Tale of the narrator's dream-like adventures into a fantasy land where he confronts tree-spirits and the shadow, sojourns to the palace of the fairy queen, and searches for the spirit of the earth.

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