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THE REVELATION OF ST. GEORGE
By Duncan Aldric
I would like to do what I think is the most important thing that I can do, that is to introduce you to whom it has been said is the greatest writer of Neo-Mythic Poetry that has ever lived… exceeding, in his writings, even the Genius of such stories as The Iliad, Gilgamesh and Beowulf. The man I speak of is George MacDonald.
George MacDonald was born in 1824 and died in 1905. He was a contemporary of Charles Dickens and, during his life, was considered the greater genius of the two. He was friends of Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, known to us as Lewis Carrol, and, in fact, Dodgson wrote Alice in Wonderland during a two week visit to the country home of the MacDonald’s. It was George himself who talked Dodgson into publishing “Alice”.
MacDonald was friends with (or at least acquaintances of) Lady Byron, Tennyson, Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Trollope, Ruskin, Lewes, Thackery, Longfellow, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Whittier and Stowe. And though Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) disliked George MacDonald’s writing at first, after they met, they became friends and MacDonald was likely, in part, responsible for lessening Clemens’s animosity toward religion and increasing his opinion toward the intellect of women.
But it is not who MacDonald knew rather than what has been said of MacDonald that is important.
C.S. Lewis said, after buying the book Phantastes by George MacDonald, “a few hours later, I knew I had crossed a great frontier. What it actually did to me was to convert, even to baptize my imagination.” Elisabeth Yates said of Sir Gibbie (one of MacDonald’s books) that “It moved me the way books did when, as a child, the great gates of literature began to open and first encounters with noble thoughts and utterances were unspeakably thrilling.”
Samuel Clemens wrote regarding one of MacDonald’s fantasies, “All these things might move and interest one. But how desperately more I have been moved tonight by the thought of a little old copy in the nursery of At the Back of the North Wind. Oh, what happy days they were when that little book was read, and how Susy (his late wife) loved it.” G.K. Chesterson said, “When he (MacDonald) becomes more carefully studied as a Mystic… It will be found, I fancy, that he stands for a rather important turning point in the history of Christendom… As Protestants speak of the morning stars of the Reformation, we may be allowed to note such names here and there as morning stars of the Reunion.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, Madeleine L’Engle, Oswald Chambers and many more have also spoken highly of and were influenced by George MacDonald. Indeed, we would most likely not have the privilege of such great stories as “The Lord of the Rings”, “A Wrinkle in Time” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” were it not for the influence that George MacDonald had on the writers of these great stories.
Perhaps the greatest thing ever said of George MacDonald was, again, by C.S. Lewis. Lewis said that “George MacDonald taught me to love goodness.”
In 1895, MacDonald released what his family jokingly called “The Revelelation of St. George.” The book was actually called Lilith. I recommend everything written by MacDonald, but perhaps most of all Lilith. It will make the hardest heart cry and long for goodness. MacDonald touches us this way. In it, Novalis says, in the closing words of the book, “Our life is no dream, but it should and will perhaps become one.”
I will challenge you. Rid yourself of television for but a month and read MacDonald’s works instead. You will gain a new insight into life and love and goodness. Perhaps together we will begin the transformation from a buried seed into a reaching tree and a crawling caterpillar into a fluttering butterfly. You need not be pro religion or anti religion… A Christian hater or lover… A Muslim, Buddhist or Pantheist. Or you may be any or all these things. In any event, the constructs of religion are not what you will find, but perhaps you will find Nature or God or some mix therein, either way, it will be a new beginning for you: You will step closer to the Creator of us all.
Recommended internet sites:
At the Gutenburg Project, you may get complete copies of MacDonald books free in HTML, or you can find a few of his books in print at george-macdonald.com