Fairy Tales,  Show Notes

Episode 71: Phantastes, Ch. 1-4

Welcome back to The Literary Life Podcast and the beginning of our series on George MacDonald’s Phantastes. Before our hosts, Angelina, Cindy and Thomas begin the book chat, though, we wanted to let you know about some Advent and Christmas resources ready for the upcoming holiday season. As mentioned before, Cindy’s new edition of Hallelujah: Cultivating Advent Traditions with Handel’s Messiah is available now. Also, Thomas and Angelina have a sale going on for an Advent Bundle of their popular webinars, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and The Poetry of Advent.

Cindy shares a little about her past reading of many of MacDonald’s books and the effect they had on her. Angelina and Cindy also give some pertinent biographical information about MacDonald and put him in his Victorian context. Angelina brings out the connections between Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and MacDonald’s Phantastes, including the questing element. In answer to Cindy’s question about the German word “Maerchen”, Thomas shares some ideas about what sorts of stories are included in that term.

In this discussion, Angelina points out all the big themes of fairy tales and stories in general that we see right away in this story. Cindy highlights the role of the grandmother in this and other MacDonald stories. In light of the Faerie Queene connections, Thomas wonders if there will be a true woman and a false woman in this story. Angelina and Cindy go on to explore so many more of the ideas and themes presented in these chapters. Be back next week for chapters 5-9.

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Commonplace Quotes:

There is no truth, however overpowering and clear, but men may escape from it by shutting their eyes.

Cardinal John Henry Newman

Hurry is a sort of violence on the soul.

John Mark Comer

I should have been shocked in my teens if anyone had told me that what I learned to love in Phantastes was goodness. But now that I know, I there was no deception. The deception is all the other way round–in that prosaic moralism which confines goodness to the region of Law and Duty, which never lets us feel in our face the sweet air blowing from “the land of righteousness,” never reveals that elusive Form which if once seen mus inevitably be desire with all but sensuous desire–the thing (in Sappho’s phrase) “more gold than gold.”

C. S. Lewis


by Walter de la Mare

Soundless the moth-flit, crisp the death-watch tick;
Crazed in her shaken arbour bird did sing;
Slow wreathed the grease adown from soot-clogged wick:
The Cat looked long and softly at the King.

Mouse frisked and scampered, leapt, gnawed, squeaked;
Small at the window looped cowled bat a-wing;
The dim-lit rafters with the night-mist reeked:
The Cat looked long and softly at the King.

O wondrous robe enstarred, in night dyed deep:
O air scarce-stirred with the Court’s far junketing:
O stagnant Royalty — A-swoon? Asleep?
The Cat looked long and softly at the King.

Book List:

The Princess and The Goblin by George MacDonald

Lilith by George MacDonald

Hallelujah by Cindy Rollins

The Christmas Stories and Poems of George MacDonald by George MacDonald

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer

George MacDonald by C. S. Lewis

The Diary of an Old Soul by George MacDonald

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

Til We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis

A Dish of Orts by George MacDonald

Hard Times by Charles Dickens

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Adam Bede by George Eliot

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

The Purple Island by Phineas Fletcher

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You can find Angelina and Thomas at HouseofHumaneLetters.com, on Instagram @angelinastanford, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ANGStanford/

Find Cindy at https://cindyrollins.net, on Instagram @cindyordoamoris and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cindyrollins.net/. Check out Cindy’s own Patreon page also!

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  • Clark

    Stories will save the world! My wife is pregnant with our first and I have been researching homeschooling and building a list of stories/books that we want to expose our future children to. In this quest, I found your blog through a Charlotte Mason FB group. Even as I have been reading books on religion and spirituality my entire adult life, I am realizing that I have focused on non-fiction for the last 20-25 years. But….when I started thinking about raising children, the first books on my list were faerie tales, myths and nursery rhymes. Listening to your podcast has reminded me to include fantasy and imagination even in my adult life. Perhaps part of the importance of raising children is to remind us of the hope of happily ever after that we so easily forget when we are being responsible adults. God bless you for restoring my faith and wonder. I feel like I have found my faerie godmother in you.

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