With poems that go on for pages, and vibrant descriptions of things that cannot be described, George MacDonald was a masterful man. In his fairy story, “The Light Princess” he describes the life of a girl cursed with weightlessness. (And it is worth noting that MacDonald lived in the 1800s, before such a thing had been experienced.)
I may here remark that it was very amusing to see her run, if her mode of progression could properly be called running. For first she would make a bound; then, having alighted, she would run a few steps, and make another bound. Sometimes she would fancy she had reached the ground before she actually had, and her feet would go backwards and forwards, running upon nothing at all, like those of a chicken on its back. Then she would laugh like the very spirit of fun; only in her laugh there was something missing. What it was, I find myself unable to describe. I think it was a certain tone, depending upon the possibility of sorrow—morbidezza, perhaps. She never smiled —George MacDonald, The Light Princess
And as you may have noticed, the curse was not only on her physical being, but her entire self and personality. She was, in all senses, light. Light-hearted, light-minded and so on. Surely, Mr. MacDonald’s creativity knew no bounds!
I regard George MacDonald as my master. —C. S. Lewis
In the book, At the Back of the North Wind, MacDonald often reminds me of Lewis. For example, Diamond thinks he has been away from home for a hundred years, when really, it has only been days. (Similarly, in Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the children live in Narnia until adulthood, then find themselves back in England, children again.)
Like Lewis, MacDonald wrote books on Theology, alongside his fiction. Then again, his fiction is nearly as full of Theology as his books written solely on the subject! In one conversation that the boy Diamond has with The North Wind herself, a biblical understanding of God’s absolute sovereignty is described in a much more understandable way than I have ever heard before. Perhaps a part of it is that the child accepts what she is saying to him in simple faith, understanding only on the level of a child, the humble position from which God wants us to listen to His Truth.
I shall end with a quote from the master, which sums up my thoughts on this little attempt to share about Mr. MacDonald…
I must not go on describing what cannot be described, for nothing is more wearisome. —George MacDonald, At the Back of the North Wind