Posts Tagged ‘freebies’

A reader recently recommended a few George MacDonald fantasy fiction and longer length novels for my reading.  Interestingly enough, one of these titles, The Wise Woman, is the current monthly free offer at Christianaudio.com.  For the last few years I have collected the monthly free audio books at ChristianAudio, and have read several of the more interesting ones.  The George MacDonald title is a little over 5 hours, and good audio quality.

MacDonald’s books are in the public domain, here at Project Gutenberg in several formats, as well as at Librivox.org, a great source for free audio recordings of books in the public domain.  Since Librivox works with volunteers, not all the recordings are of the best quality, but many I have listened to over the years have been good quality.

As is well known, George MacDonald’s stories were a great influence on several 20th century authors, especially C.S. Lewis, and others such as G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Madeleine L’Engle, such that he is now known as the “grandfather” of the Inklings.  See this article regarding Tolkien’s earlier and later views regarding George MacDonald

The Wise Woman is a parable (as indicated in the full title), a story about two very spoiled and undisciplined little girls, one a wealthy princess and one a rural commoner, and how a mysterious character, the wise woman, takes them away from their surroundings, to her cottage, and through many lessons teaches them self-control and character.  It reads as much closer to allegory, at places reminding me of the “Pilgrim’s Progress” type of allegory; it is not quite in that pure, formal form of allegory, but at many places the characters and events clearly have a particular meaning, about our actions and behavior.

MacDonald is also much more focused on morality lessons for children.  This story certainly fits in the tradition that had been established earlier in the 19th century by the efforts of William Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect, including the morality tracts and books of Hannah More.   The fantasy elements are within the context of this world, not fully developed into a separate world such as Narnia or Middle Earth, and C.S. Lewis clearly improved on the fairy story in his generation.  I recall some of the children’s moral lesson aspect in Chronicles of Narnia, but in Lewis’ writing this is toned down compared to MacDonald.  But as an influence on Lewis’ imagination, MacDonald can be appreciated in his own right, and as a step along the way to the 20th century fantasy writing.  Another key feature of MacDonald’s The Wise Woman, which Lewis and Tolkien also continued, is the use of poetry and songs and appreciation for beauty in nature.

The Wise Woman is certainly worth reading, a short read and especially in a good audio recording.


Read Full Post »