The Complete Fairy Tales (Penguin Classics)

The Complete Fairy Tales (Penguin Classics) - 'George Macdonald',  'U. C. Knoepflmacher' [These notes were made in 1986:] What I like about MacDonald's fairy stories (as opposed to, say, Lewis' Narnia chronicles) is that they are not so openly allegorical nor so openly addressed to children. What I like about them - as opposed to, say, Tolien's Ring trilogy - is that the imaginative vision is not so closely linked in with a particular mythology, and thus does not lose its charm as one grows older and wiser in these things. The first of these stories, "The Light Princess," is indubitably my favourite: I am sure it must have been read to me when I was a child, for it all seemed achingly familiar, and that dreadful, wonderful image of the Prince being slowly swallowed up by water as he gazes at his love haunts me (Hughes' illustration also seemed to ring bells). I didn't like the "little people" stories quite so much, but "The Day Boy and the Night Girl" is quite spell-binding. Photogen and Nycteris and the werewolf pseudo-mother Watho go through their symbolic evolutions in a way which appeals very strongly to basic human sympathies. That combination, methinks, is characteristic of the best parts of all these stories. "The Golden Key" is another such, a Pilgrim's Progress through a wonderfully mystic fairy landscape full of spiritual signiface, but only intimated significance, never over-obvious.