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George MacDonald (1824–1905) is the acknowledged forefather of later fantasy writers such as C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien: however, his place in his own time is seldom examined. This omission does MacDonald a grave disservice. By ignoring a fundamental aspect of what made MacDonald the man he was, the critical habit of viewing MacDonald’s work only in terms of his followers reinforces the long-entrenched assessment that it has a limited value – one only for religious enthusiasts and fantasy lovers.
The sixteen essays in this anthology seek to correct that omission, by looking directly at MacDonald the Victorian – at his place in the Victorian literary scene, at his engagement with the works of his literary contemporaries and at his interest in the social, political, and theological movements of his age. The resulting portrait reveals a MacDonald who deserves a more prominent place in the rich literary history of the nineteenth century than he has hitherto been given.
Part One: Belief and Scepticism
- The Idea of Tradition in George MacDonald (Stephen Prickett, University of Kent, Canterbury)
- ‘Divine Alchemy’: The Miracles of Our Lord in its Context (Daniel Gabelman, Eastbourne College)
- ‘With all sorts of doubts I am familiar’: George MacDonald’s Literary Response to John Ruskin’s Struggles with Epistemology (Jocelyne Slepyan, Duke University)
- Thomas Wingfold, Curate and the Mid-Nineteenth-Century Eugenics Debate (Ginger Stelle, Morthland College)
Part Two: Social Reform and Gender
- George MacDonald’s Approach to Victorian Social Reform in The Vicar’s Daughter (Jeffrey W. Smith, University of Dundee)
- Military Bodies and Masculinity in ‘The Broken Swords’ (Jenny Neophytou, Brunel University, London)
- God and Gender in Robert Falconer: Deifying the Feminine (Philip Hickok, University of Aberdeen)
- Imagining Reformed Communities: Discussing Social Myths in George MacDonald’s Princess Novels and Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’ (Christine Chettle, University of Leeds)
- Sitting on the Doorstep: MacDonald’s Aesthetic Fantasy Worlds and the Divine Child-Figure (Ally Crockford, University of Edinburgh)
Part Three: Ideals and Nightmares
- Stirring the Senses: Identity and Suspense in George MacDonald’s David Elginbrod (Elizabeth Andrews, University of St Andrews)
- ‘La Belle Dame’ – Lilith and the Romantic Vampire Tradition (David Melville Wingrove, University of Edinburgh)
- Gothic Degeneration and Romantic Rebirth in Donal Grant (Jennifer Koopman, McGill University)
- Pictures on a Page: George MacDonald and the Visual Arts (Helen Sutherland, University of Glasgow)
Part Four: Scotland
- Speaking Matrilineally (and Especially of Uncle Mackintosh MacKay) (Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson)
- How the Fairies were not Invited to Court (John Patrick Pazdziora, University of St Andrews)
- George MacDonald and the Grave Livers of Scotland (David Robb, University of Dundee)
Cover image: “The Knight of the Sun”, 1860 (w/c on paper), Arthur Hughes (1832–1915). Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, UK. Image courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library.
Last updated 19 April 2013.