An authoritative edition of the shorter fairy tales of George MacDonald, "one of the most remarkable writers of the nineteenth century" (W. H. Auden)
George MacDonald occupied a major position in the intellectual life of his Victorian contemporaries, and his dazzling fairy tales earned him the admiration of such twentieth-century writers as C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and W. H. Auden. Employing paradox, play, and nonsense, like Lewis Carroll's Alice books, MacDonald's fairy tales offer an elusive yet meaningful alternative order to the dubious certitudes of everyday life.
The Complete Fairy Tales brings together all eleven of George MacDonald's shorter fairy tales, including "The Light Princess" and "The Golden Key," as well as his essay "The Fantastic Imagination." The subjects are those of traditional fantasy: fairies good and wicked, children embarking on elaborate quests, journeys into unsettling dreamworlds, life-risking labors undertaken. Though they allude to familiar tales such as "Sleeping Beauty" and "Jack the Giant-Killer," MacDonald's stories are profoundly experimental and subversive. By questioning the concept that a childhood associated with purity, innocence, and fairy-tale "wonder" ought to be segregated from adult skepticism and disbelief, they invite adult readers to adopt the same elasticity and openmindedness that come so naturally to a child.
"I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master . . . The quality that had enchanted me in his imaginative works turned out to be the quality of the real universe, the divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic reality in which we all live." --C. S. Lewis