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From: "Nigel Price" 
Subject: (urth) George MacDonald
Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2003 12:35:34 -0000

Tami Whitehead wrote:

>>((Honestly, I read Doors, and just sat and scratched
>>my head for a day or so. It reminded me a bit of
>>Lilith, by ol' what's his name, friend and
>>contemporary of C S Lewis etc...rats, what's his name,
>>but you know the one, Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
>>for adults, with a tad un-orthodox Christian

I suppose, strictly speaking, George Macdonald (1824-1905) and C S Lewis
(1898-1963) overlapped by about seven years, but you wouldn't normally call
them "contemporaries".

Years ago, I did a dissertation on Macdonald and read all his fantasy novels
and stories and a chunk of his literary criticism and mainstream Victorian
fiction too. To quote one of my children's favourite phrases, "it did my
head in." Some of his stories were good - I liked "The Golden Key" for
example - but most of his work is verbose, poorly structured and mawkishly
sentimental. Some of it is also, frankly, perverse. I never did really
understand what Lewis saw in him.

So imagine my horror when I read the following in Nutria's interview with
Wolfe ("That's his name Jim, but not spelt as we know it!"):

>>JJ: Now you are reading George McDonald?

>>GW: Yes, Lilith. I had not read anything
>>except Curdie and the Goblin and At the
>>Back of the North Wind and those types,
>>and they are quite good but they are
>>basically fairy stories. I had read others
>>that were about that good, but I don't think
>>they had any great theological impact, any
>>great feeling from that standpoint.

I agree entirely with Wolfe's verdict on the main body of Macdonald's work,
but, frustratingly, he doesn't say what he thought of "Lilith". Now that you
mention it, though, I can see some points of overlap for Wolfe. Other
worlds, ambiguous goddess/queens...and Lilith, if I recall, has some
inhuma-like characteristics...She turns into a blood sucking white slug or
worm at night. As in the famous C L Moore story "Shambleau", however,
MacDonald is deliberately vague...Oh dear, how do I put this?...about what
it is exactly that Lilith sucks...

I do apologise for that.

Love Wolfe, don't like most MacDonald.



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