The book selected randomly this morning is (are you eager with anticipation?)
The Christmas Stores of George MacDonald
Illustrated by Linda Hill Griffith
Mmmmm. The absolute truth is that I have never read this book. In looking at it, I see that it was a gift to us in 1990. (That is a long time to have not read the book but what can I say?) I am sure that I wanted to read the book because it was by George MacDonald.
You know those authors that you know you should read; the ones that you want to read but just don’t seem to want to read them enough? That is my George MacDonald conundrum.
George MacDonald (1824 – 1905) was an ordained minister for the Congregational Church in Scotland. He had been raised in the church but did have some philosophical differences with the teachings. Not amazingly, he had some problems in the ministry. He went on to teach at the University of London and he lectured in the United States. But he came into prominence as a writer.
His most famous books were fantasies, with the most famous of those being Phantastes, The Princess and the Goblin, At the Back of the North Wind, and Lilith. There were also fairy tales including The Light Princess, The Golden Key and The Wise Woman. All in all, he wrote 14 books of fantasy, 28 books of fiction, 13 books of poetry and 13 books of non-fiction. He produced quite a body of work.
Are you wondering how George MacDonald ever came to my attention? Besides the massive body of work, he was a strong influence on many writers. Specifically, he was a strong influence on two of my favorite authors, C. S. Lewis and Madeline L’Engle. In the introduction to George MacDonald :An Anthology, C. S. Lewis states:
“In making this collection I was discharging a debt of justice. 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. But it has not seemed to me that those who have received my books kindly take even now sufficient notice of the affiliation. Honesty drives me to emphasize it.”
With that kind of homage, I knew that I should back up and read the man who had such a strong influence on my favorite authors. But, somehow I have never been able to push myself into reading his works. Perhaps now that I have “told the world” (or six of my friends) that I should read old George, it will move me sit with him for a spell.
There is another interesting story about MacDonald. One of his friends was Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. What, the name is not familiar? Perhaps his pen name of Lewis Carroll would help. It was upon MacDonald’s urging that Carroll submitted Alice in Wonderland for publication. MacDonald read the book to his children and they were so enthusiastic about it that he convinced his friend to get it published.
I look forward to seeing what comes out of the box tomorrow. I also hope that I don’t have to admit that I haven’t read it!
Thanks for reading!