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George MacDonald
Divine Carelessness and Fairytale Levity

By Daniel Gabelman

George MacDonald
Hardback, 272 pages $29.95
Published: 15th August 2013
ISBN: 9781602587823
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: All Literature, Religion & Literature

The Scottish poet, author, and Christian minister George MacDonald is widely known as an inspiration for the works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Lewis Carroll, among others. Nineteenth century photographs of MacDonald present a forbidding visage, embodying Victorian-era solemnity. Yet behind the facade, as Daniel Gabelman writes, lived a whimsical and fantastical muse. Indeed, MacDonald imbued theological weight through childlike lightheartedness. Gabelman ably reveals in MacDonald’s writings a bridge between playfulness and seriousness in the modern imagination. George MacDonald delivers a balanced reading of its subject that ultimately lends a new theological and literary weight to whimsy.

Introduction: The Gravity of a Child at Play

Part I: Modalities of Levity

1 The Levity of Saints and Angels

2 Ecstasy and Folly

Lightening the Self for Its Journey

3 Vanity and Play

Liberation from Seriousness for Metamorphosis

4 Carnival and Sabbath

A Time for Renewal, Rebellion, and Revelation

Part II: MacDonald’s Fairytale Levity

5 “Never so Real as When They Are Solemn”

Victorians and Seriousness

6 Time

Fairyland’s Festive Sabbath

7 Space

Fairyland’s Ecstatic Cosmology

8 Transformation

“Shall not the Possible Become the Real?”

Conclusion: The Haunting Force of Levity




“…extremely worthwhile…”

—Bonnie Gaarden, Mythlore (32:2, Spring/Summer 2014) 

"This sparkling study of George MacDonald's playfulness is an important and serious contribution to MacDonald scholarship. Gabelman orchestrates Dante, Dionysius, and St Paul to delineate in MacDonald a theology of folly that raises soul and body to ecstasy. Rarely do Oscar Wilde, Byron, and Moltmann share a text—but here they unite to urge MacDonald's project of ludic transformation."

—Alison Milbank, Associate Professor, The University of Nottingham

"Erudite, informed, clever, and welcome, Gabelman's study understands MacDonald’s lightsome stories in a way that honors his theology while celebrating his humour and his artistry. George MacDonald just might be the best study we have of George MacDonald's fiction. This book is long overdue – sensitive and convincing."

—Roderick McGillis, Emeritus Professor of English, The University of Calgary

"Gabelman uses explanations of relevant context to clarify and inform, rather than to lecture or instruct. He offers a detailed yet articulate expansion of knowledge, and this eloquence will enlighten both the erudite scholar and the lay reader."

—Christine Chettle, The Lion and the Unicorn (38:2)

"...for anyone interested in the study of fairy tales, or in theology, Gabelman's book comes as a much-needed breath of clear air."

—Dr. John Patrick Pazdziora, University of St Andrews, VII

"A rare achievement. Not only does he shine a new and liberating light on the person and work of George MacDonald, he does so with a clarity and depth of thought, expression, and scholarship that engages the mind while lifting the heart. In this insightful volume, Gabelman rescues the idea of levity and lightness of being from the modern literary ash heap by breathing into it a fresh, robust sense that is salutary."

—Christopher W. Mitchell, Director, Marion E. Wade Chair of Christian Thought, Wade Center, Wheaton College

Daniel Gabelman is Teacher of English at Eastbourne College in East Sussex, United Kingdom. 

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies - 2015 - Finalist - Short-listed

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 272 pages
 9in x 6in

  LIT000000, LIT004120, REL013000
 Baylor University Press

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