Born in 1824, George MacDonald was tremendously influential in relation to the development of fantasy writing. He wrote a wide range of fairy tales and work primarily aimed at children, but also produced novels for adults – most importantly Phantastes and Lilith – which begin the shift towards the kind of fantasy writing that we see in the twentieth century. Both of these are haunting and enchanting works, though sadly a little too long to be included in our reading given the time we have this spring. We can, however, look at ‘The Carasoyn’ as it contains many of the features which became fundamentally important in the works of later writers from Dunsany to Lewis and Tolkien. Lewis, in particular, was a great fan of George MacDonald; he famously wrote a preface for an anthology of MacDonald’s works in which he acknowledged MacDonald as his ‘master’. Tolkien acknowledged MacDonald as an influence but at times was apparently put off by MacDonald’s tendencies toward the allegorical, something which Tolkien famously disliked.
You can pick up a copy from my office early next week, but if you would prefer to start reading ‘The Carasoyn’ sooner or online, you can find an electronic version here