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Phantastes, A Faerie Romance

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  4,179 ratings  ·  343 reviews
Please note: neither this list nor its contents are final till midnight of the last day of the month of any such announcement. The official release date of all Project Gutenberg Etexts is at Midnight, Central Time, of the last day of the stated month. A preliminary version may often be posted for suggestion, comment and editing by those who wish to do so. To be sure you ha...more
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Published December 15th 2010 by New Century Books (first published 1858)
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Adam
For lovers of good storytelling, this one is a great find. I was tempted to label Phastastes as a fantasy, and while it is one, it has a sense of being much more than that. The vocabulary is a bit more intense than what the modern reader is used to, but this story from nearly one and a half centuries ago holds up very well to the test of time. Overall, very enjoyable, solid storytelling...MacDonald's rich descriptions draw you into the world he creates.

I guarantee I will pick it up again in the...more
Werner
May 19, 2011 Werner rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans who don't mind Victorian diction
Shelves: fantasy
While I read this book several years ago (the 2006 date is a "best guess"), I'd actually started it back in 1990 and didn't finish it at that time. It gets off to kind of a slow start, and one element in the storyline was initially off-putting to me (but no spoilers here!). However, I'm glad I decided to give it a second and fairer chance; it proved to be a solid three-star fantasy that I enjoyed. Basically, it's a coming-of-age tale in a fantasy setting; and it's perhaps the first example in th...more
El
I like a good faerie story, a nice romp in fairy lands. I especially like reading older fantasy novels to help this graph I have in my head showing the progression and evolution of fantasy in literature. MacDonald's book here, published in 1857, seemed like a good one to pick up - it's an early fantasy novel with an introduction by C.S. Lewis, possibly the world's first MacDonald fanboy (and OMG he drooled all over MacDonald in that introduction), and this MacDonald guy inspired not only Lewis,...more
Cora
A friend and I decided to have "family story time" each evening as a new bedtime routine to help us fall asleep more calmly in the midst of interpersonal and academic stress. We chose this classic tale, picked up by C.S. Lewis at a train station (he later said that it influenced his writing greatly).. it's a fabulous read-aloud story because the writing is just so darn good, especially in the introductory chapters. We have at least a dozen notecards with quotes from the book scattered about the...more
John
Very good. Now if only I could understand more of the symbolism....
matthew
This is an interesting book. C.S. Lewis cites MacDonald as his guru of types (note his role in the book "The Great Divorce"). Lewis further said that Phantastes "baptized [his:] imagination". Those are strong words and citations from an author that I love reading. So I decided to try out Phantastes. It is a "fairy romance", but really it is in the vein of Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress"--an extended allegory about life and philosophy. Except, in this version, none of the characters are explicitly...more
Larissa
Like many of the other reviewers, I am certain that a second reading would reveal much more of this story to me. Many times throughtout the reading I wished I could just jump into MacDonalds mind and find the key to much that I am sure is allegorical! This book is so beautiful it almost hurts. I loved and was confused by it. I know now why C.S. Lewis thought him a master; if Lewis loooked up to him you know that most of the rest of us would see him as brilliant!

The story begins with this young...more
Alex
Mar 21, 2013 Alex rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy geeks
This is a neat little book. It's a bit episodic, and a little flowery, but it's really vivid; there's some terrific imagery in here.

It's the story of some dude who goes to fairy land and wanders around mooning after some lady. There are giants and goblins. It's considered one of the first fantasy novels, and a big influence on CS Lewis and Tolkien. It makes for a nice bridge between medieval fantasy precursors like Morte D'Arthur and Beowulf* and the later official fantasy genre.

* what? There a...more
Chad Gibbons
What an excellent book. This is my favorite George MacDonald book by far. There is a palpable sense of danger as the narrator Anodos tells of his travels in Fairy-Land. Along his journey, he encounters sinister Ash trees, mischievous kobolds, women who only appear in the reflection of mirrors, Sir Galahad, and a host of other fairy-folk. It's written in the classic George MacDonald surrealist tone, which at times will make you gape with wonder and at others cringe in horror. If you take any deli...more
Jacob Aitken
In many ways this really isn't a good book. The style borders on choppy and dense. The story doesn't always flow. MacDonald routinely makes excurses without telling you. But...



The "mythopoeic" prose is its redeeming quality. MaDonald bathed the book in sacramentality. Every leaf, grove, and spring refleted redemption--and MacDonald is a talented enough artist that he can show redemption without telling you redemption (usually).



The story line is simple enough. The protagonists finds himself in "...more
Oria
“But Love is such a Mystery
I cannot find it out:
For when I think I’m best resolv’d,
I then am in most doubt.”
(Sir John Suckling)

I have just finished Phantastes and was immediately compelled to put my thoughts to paper. What attracted me to the book was, beside the title, the blurb at the back which said the story is a “fairy tale for adults” and I needed no more persuasion.

The book relates the story of Anodos, a young wealthy man who, on his 21st birthday receives the keys to a mysterious secreta...more
Melinda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeslyn
Lyrical, mesmerizing "faerie romance for men and women", thus far this story focuses on Anodos and his epic journey through the dreamlike Fairy Land - but if the reader is looking for tiny winged creatures, he will find them only briefly; Fairy Land is populated with numerous inhabitants who are in fact human, and others appear so but with supernatural qualities. Though society (and rampant marketing) have oversold the idea of a benign parallel world of beauty and frolicking sprites, make no mis...more
Vivian
The beginning narrative hooked me. On the occasion of his 21st birthday, young Anodos is given the key to his deceased father's desk. But it is what he finds in the desk that opens the door to the rest of the tale. And what a tale it is.

This reader (moi)wondered how the writer was able to contrive this epic journey through who-knows-where for who-knows-what. This work is something of a shake-up of Rousseau, Defoe, Baum, and C.S. Lewis. In fact, Lewis names MacDonald as a spiritual mentor, thoug...more
Bill
I read this story because the author was a major influence on the writings of Tolkein and C.S.Lewis and others early in the fantasy genre.

This is the story of an ecstatic mystic's journey through fairy land.

In this case, fairyland is nature at its most georgeous with beautiful architecture and rustic huts nicely blended and sparcely interspersed in a very 'green' way. The sun smiles its golden rays into the lovely flowers and trees, and this sunshine is in turn distilled into little fairies wh...more
Michaela
Sometimes it seems like because we’re kept in suspense throughout a book and we’re still excited and caught up in the story when we finish the last chapter, we immediately give it five stars just for that, and then we either forget about it, or later realize it wasn’t all that good after all. In other words, it was fun while it lasted, but not worth a second read or even a second thought.

And then there are those that seem slower while we’re actually reading them, we’re tempted to quit halfway th...more
Iain
Might not do a lot for you, but this pushes a lot of my buttons: Victorian literature, pioneering fantasy, carving out the conventions of a new genre and inspiring later authors (notably C.S. Lewis). MacDonald is more well-known for The Princess and the Goblin (which I haven't read), but I recently learned that Phantastes was a formative read for a teenaged Tolkien, so I was intrigued enough to give it a try.

It's the rather strange story of a young gentleman by the odd name of Anodos, who wakes...more
Kevin Finelli
I enjoyed Phantastes on several levels. At the surface, it is an enjoyable fantasy store or fairy tale about a young man who wakes up in the fairy world one day. The story is infused throughout with poetry, including a quote at the beginning of each chapter, and many songs and poems sung or spoken by the characters themselves. For me personally, hearing rather than reading helped me enjoy the poetry, which I probably would have skimmed through otherwise.

Beyond this, Phantastes is an allegory, th...more
Adam
While his style may not be for everyone, and perhaps is something that requires a bit of indulgence, I loved it, and would list it among my favoritest of books. It was a very perfect Romantic Period book, similar in that way to Narcissus and Goldmund, which is an even more perfect book of Romanticism, though not of the period itself. Every little natural thing is personified in every description, the narrator falls in love with every girl he sees, he dreams, he meets cosmic mothers, he is deceiv...more
Megan Fritts
Absolutely the most incredible book I've ever read. I'm pretty sure it will stay my favorite forever. You know those things in life (books/paintings/scenery/etc) that are just so beautiful that you know you couldn't accurately describe them? That is what this book was, to me. I know that you're not supposed to "over-sell" books, because then everyone's expectations will be high, or whatever. I don't care. This book changed how I view the world. C.S. Lewis was spot-on in his opinion of MacDonald,...more
Elizabeth
This book is such a wonderful journey. It is so vivid and imaginative. I love it! There are so many amazing quotes in this book that I was constantly stopping to reflect on the beautiful writing.
Andrea Lundgren
The book, as a George MacDonald Fairy Tale, is delightful. It wanders quite a bit, but its descriptions have the depths of dreams, where you feel restfully awake. Initially, I had trouble understanding what the book was about until I read an article by Adrian Gunther ( "The Structure of George MacDonald's Phantastes " ). His article explained that this book is a coming of age story, and once I understood that, everything else made sense.

Anodos' journey through fairyland changes him, transformi...more
Emma
"Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later, I knew that I had crossed a great frontier. My imagination, in a certain sense, was baptized." --C.S. Lewis

Words cannot possibly express the extent to which I love this book. Though by no means a “perfect piece of literature" (it is littered with dense Victorian syntax, self-indulgent description, some very bad poetry, and frequent digressions--all things I secretly love), its indescribable...more
M.G. Bianco
This was a favorite book and author of C.S. Lewis's. I can see why. George MacDonald creates a very imaginative and lovely Faerie Land. As you read through this story, your imagination will surely be wildly active in envisioning all that he describes.

Yet, for all that, there is something odd about the story. With few exceptions, there is very little action. Much of it is description after description of Faerie Land. For that reason, I found it difficult to stay engaged in reading it. In fact, I...more
Nathaniel
I have wanted to read something by George MacDonald since I read the Great Divorce, in which he appears as a character. I know that C. S. Lewis had great regard for him and cited him as an inspiration for his writing. Knowing that, I went into this book expecting something allegorical and deep, some sort of proto-Narnia, rich in Christian doctrine. But Phantastes is simpler, and in a way, sweeter than that. If this book were a person, I would say it was more of a moralist than a theologian. In a...more
Dara Salley
I can certainly understand what made this book so inspirational to people like C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll and J.R.R. Tolkein. “Phantases” is an 1800’s fantasy by George MacDonald and it contains many of the elements that become staples of that the genre. This includes gorgeous settings of pastoral splendor, beautiful ruined cathedrals and dark and scary woods. MacDonald’s powers of description are vivid and rich. They draw you into his world whether you like it or not.

On the other hand, I can see...more
Ty
Great quote from the end: "May the world be brighter for me, at least in those portions of it, where my darkness falls not."

Loved the story, though I need to read it again to understand the deeper symbolism. There was a lot that seemed right out of Book 1 of The Faerie Queen by Edmund Spenser. Also I could tell that certain parts influenced The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. I read the Project Gurenberg e-text for free and the poetry was not formatted correctly. Otherwise though, the free vers...more
Stephen Case
Lots of thoughts on this book. It's not great fantasy. The plot meanders, leaves things unfulfilled and under explained or simply unfinished. The language at times is eye-rollingly bad. But it's also easy to see the gems, the bits of wonder and humility, that so effected C. S. Lewis. Consider what he writes near the end, as an analogy of love for Christ:

"This . . . is a true man. I will serve him, and give him all worship, seeing in him the embodiment of what I would fain become. If I cannot be...more
Awenydd Orchantra Faeryn Lyn
This story is a flow of the most incredible, rich, luscious, vibrant imagery and descriptions I've read in a book thus far. This is how my soul dreams...Every word sings...Oh, what a perfect book! It is inspiring on levels in which there are no words for.

I will be re-reading it immediately, and looking into the accompanying quotes for further reading of this elevation and magnificence.

(Review featured on www.evolvingthread.com )
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George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister.

Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, George MacDonald inspired many authors, such as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Madeleine L'Engle. It was C.S. Lewis that wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master": "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I be...more
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“It is by loving, and not by being loved, that one can come nearest the soul of another; yea, that, where two love, it is the loving of each other, that originates and perfects and assures their blessedness. I knew that love gives to him that loveth, power over over any soul be loved, even if that soul know him not, bringing him inwardly close to that spirit; a power that cannot be but for good; for in proportion as selfishness intrudes, the love ceases, and the power which springs therefrom dies. Yet all love will, one day, meet with its return. ” 112 likes
“And her life will perhaps be the richer, for holding now within it the memory of what came, but could not stay.” 34 likes
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