Category Archives: Geo MacDonald

An author I love to share

For many of us reading a good book is one of life’s joys. When we find a good author, we gain additional joy in telling others. So here I sit, with a smile on my face, about to mention my favorite author on this blog again.

George MacDonald (1824-1905) was a young pastor whose view of God was too warm-hearted for his stern deacons. George MacDonaldThey couldn’t vote him out, for he was too well-loved. But they could starve him out, lowering his salary by two-thirds. The congregation’s misfortune became our good fortune, for MacDonald turned to writing for a livelihood, reaching many generations! He wrote over 50 books, ranging from children’s fantasy to realistic fiction.

These books have touched many persons, including C.S. Lewis whose conversion from atheism to faith began while reading one of MacDonald’s works. Lewis later wrote: “I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him.” G.K. Chesterton said that one of MacDonald’s books “made a difference to my whole existence.” Oswald Chambers said, “…how I love that man!” and wrote that “it is a striking indication of the trend and shallowness of the modern reading public that George MacDonald’s books have been so neglected.”

Because MacDonald wrote so many years ago, his books are now public domain. So I not only have the joy of telling persons about them, but also can create electronic versions and then give them (free!) to those with a smartphone or tablet. I also make them a bit more readable (e.g., adding definitions to dialogue in broad Scots), and have fun creating the covers.

Here are three of his books that I recently added to my web page of George MacDonald eBooks:

Robert Falconer by George MacDonaldRobert Falconer – Story of a good-hearted, perceptive Scottish boy searching for his father and for a God of love amid the stern religion of his grandmother. Largely autobiographical, the book gives a vivid description of Scotland and London in MacDonald’s day and is full of much spiritual and practical insight as we follow Robert’s discoveries and friendships.

Castle Warlock (or Warlock o' Glenwarlock) by George MacDonaldCastle Warlock: A Homely Romance – Story of young Cosmo, heir of the once proud and mighty but now impoverished Warlock family in the harsh Scottish Highlands. We see true goodness embodied as the boy becomes a man, full of love for his ancestral land, the homely castle and, most of all, his noble father. Plot builds on an unfolding tale of a murdered sea captain in the family and an unexpected visit of a lovely young lady.

The Elect Lady by George MacDonaldThe Elect Lady – Story of Alexa, whose father has inherited a large, ancient Scottish estate. We watch love triangles build and resolve, wonder if ones consumed with riches can choose redemption. MacDonald’s God-breathed, practical wisdom shines through it all, particularly in the words and actions of a poor poet-tenant farmer and a valued servant girl.

Want books showing wise love and wonder?!

Ever since our honeymoon, spent surrounded by forested hills in northern Pennsylvania, back a two-mile lane, Karen and I have continually had a book we’re reading aloud to each other. At first we took turns reading, but soon settled into a pattern of me reading while Karen cross-stitched or quilted or, for a period in our life, nursed a baby or two. The first books that we read were by George MacDonald, a Scottish author writing in the last half of the 1800’s with an uncommonly robust imagination and singular commitment to live out the vision he saw in the Gospels. In fact, the first two dozen books that we read were all by MacDonald.

How could we not tire of a continual diet of only one author?!

One reason is that MacDonald wrote in diverse genres. So sometimes we were reading the beloved fantasies and fairy tales which he created for children and for which he received much critical acclaim—few writers can evoke wonder as vividly as MacDonald. And sometimes we were reading realistic novels or mysteries written for adults, giving rich glimpses into life in the rugged Scottish highlands or the cities of Victorian England.

The main reason we didn’t tire (don’t tire!) of MacDonald is that few writers can make goodness so lively or create characters of such wisdom and spiritual insight. Many authors find it easy to make evil full-bodied and highly textured. But for MacDonald, the goodness in his characters is what is multi-dimensional and compelling! Out of MacDonald’s own personal life and faith come characters who again and again draw readers like Karen and I by their calm, wise presence and great-hearted vision of God.

Electronic forms of MacDonald’s works (which are public domain) have recently become freely available on the internet. That gives opportunity to read the original unabridged versions of the books! These books often have numerous scanning errors and clumsy formatting. So one of my hobbies during the last couple years has been to give our favorites additional proof-reading and make their formatting more aesthetic and friendly.

I also find joy in sharing them with others! I have a webpage with seven of them available as ebooks in two common formats. Come visit interactingwithjesus.org/macdonald!