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Phantastes (1858)

by George MacDonald

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,072266,572 (3.8)38
Introduction by C. S. Lewis In October 1857, George MacDonald wrote what he described as ?a kind of fairy tale, in the hope that it will pay me better than the more evidently serious work.? This was Phantastes -- one of MacDonald?s most important works; a work which so overwhelmed C. S. Lewis that a few hours after he began reading it he knew he ?had crossed a great frontier.? The book is about the narrator?s (Anodos) dream-like adventures in fairyland, where he confronts tree-spirits and the shadow, sojourns to the palace of the fairy queen, and searches for the spirit of the earth. The tale is vintage MacDonald, conveying a profound sadness and a poignant longing for death.… (more)
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» See also 38 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
this early book of fantasy begins well, with one of the best descriptions of being in a dream ever written. It falls off towards the end as it morphs into a sermon on the morality of self sacrifice. Nonetheless, the strain begun here runs to Morris, then Eddison and Cabell, and, at last, to Tolkien. A very good read, unless you are a fantasist of violence, complete and total. ( )
1 vote DinadansFriend | Feb 4, 2022 |
This is such a whimsical book. The tone and atmosphere feel like a real life fairy-tale. The story is slow and steady, and a bit too meandering in the middle, but still delightful to read. I could have done without quite so many "singing" poems, not to say they all should be cut out, but I didn't feel that they all were necessary to the story. ( )
  ChelseaVK | Dec 10, 2021 |
I liked a couple of McDonald's fantasies for kids, so I thought I'd try one aimed at an older audience. About six or so chapters in, I was pretty much done. After Dostoyevsky's huge paragraphs, I didn't really want more huge paragraphs--- especially of the sentimentalist vein. Soooo I'll pick this one up again later, hopefully.
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
One of my favorite books, but not one of the best books I’ve read by any objective measure; its language is awkward even considering its age, its poems can plod, and it wanders into innumerable diversions. But this book was fundamentally formative for my teenaged self and I love it in its weird, genuine, imaginative way. Each chapter begins with a quote from another work, and a lot of those have stuck with me through the years. For instance: “When bale is highest, boote is nighest” (which means, roughly, “help is nearest when things are worst”). Or this portion of the Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton::

“‘Fight on, my men!’, Sir Andrew says,
“A little I’m hurt but yet not slain!
I’ll but lie down and bleed awhile
And then I’ll rise and fight again!”
( )
1 vote wishanem | May 27, 2021 |
A must-read in George Macdonald's fairytale collection. ( )
  riniel54 | Apr 15, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
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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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Epigraph
"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
In good sooth, my masters, this is no door. Yet is it a little window, that looketh upon a great world.
Dedication
First words
I awoke one morning with the usual perplexity of mind which accompanies the return of consciousness.
Quotations
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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Introduction by C. S. Lewis In October 1857, George MacDonald wrote what he described as ?a kind of fairy tale, in the hope that it will pay me better than the more evidently serious work.? This was Phantastes -- one of MacDonald?s most important works; a work which so overwhelmed C. S. Lewis that a few hours after he began reading it he knew he ?had crossed a great frontier.? The book is about the narrator?s (Anodos) dream-like adventures in fairyland, where he confronts tree-spirits and the shadow, sojourns to the palace of the fairy queen, and searches for the spirit of the earth. The tale is vintage MacDonald, conveying a profound sadness and a poignant longing for death.

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