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Phantastes

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  8,541 ratings  ·  865 reviews
C.S. Lewis said that upon reading this astonishing 19th-century fairy tale he "had crossed a great frontier," and numerous others both before and since have felt similarly.

In MacDonald's fairy tales, both those for children and (like this one) those for adults, the "fairy land" clearly represents the spiritual world, or our own world revealed in all of its depth and meanin
...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published July 30th 2008 by Waking Lion Press (first published 1858)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  8,541 ratings  ·  865 reviews


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Cindy Rollins
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The first time I read this I was a newly married 18 yo. My husband was taking a class at college titled Oxford Christians and I may as well have taken the class myself because I read every single life-changing book Dr. Kay Ludwigson assigned. And of all the books by all those wonderful Inklings and hangers-on, this book, Phantastes, captured my imagination and began my love of George MacDonald in a unique way.

I loved this book. Ordo Amoris.

They say the brain has definite patterns of nostalgia
...more
Susan Budd
It’s like a dream: You just
find yourself somewhere
and you wander on.
Not like a quest,
with a destination
and obstacles along the way.
No. You just find yourself walking
without a destination
and when you get somewhere
someone was expecting you,
someone who had sent you somewhere,
although you don’t know
why or where or how
and it doesn’t bother you much
that you don’t know.
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
Douglas Wilson
I know that I read this once before, many moons ago. But my only recollection of it consisted in the fact that I had read it. I recently decided to read it again because of the impact it had on Lewis. Having done so, I can only conclude that Lewis saw a great deal more in it than I was able to, although I did enjoy it -- particularly the last third. There are some great moments. But it struck me as kind of a fairy land hodge podge, only with the hodge parts and the podge parts packed closely tog ...more
Megan Fritts
Jan 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Amber
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
On his twenty-first birthday, Anodos entered his father's study and opens a drawer where a little woman that claims to be his grandmother grants his wish to go to fairy-land. With many tests to pass, will he pass them all to make it into Fairy-land or is all just a fantasy? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good read and my first ever read by George Macdonald. It was full of action, adventure, prose and was a very whimsical fantasy. Look for this book at your local library and
...more
Jacob Aitken
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beauty, inklings, fantasy
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
Werner
May 07, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Laurel Hicks
Fantasy in water colors by the great maker of myth.
Neil R. Coulter
January 2020 review:

What can I write about a book like Phantastes? It’s a novel that seems like it wasn’t crafted so much as found, its vignettes—alternately dreamy or nightmarish, adventurous or languid—not invented but simply reported and transmitted through the pages, verbatim visions of the fairy world. It feels like a living book, a story that will respond to me in whatever way I need, depending on where I am and what I need at the moment. I’ve read it twice in the past year, and in hoping
...more
Alex
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Cora
Apr 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Oria
Apr 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
Carol Bakker
Dear Phantastes,

I'm sorry we didn't get along. It was me, not you. I was overtired whenever I picked you up. My first thought was, "what was George MacDonald smoking when he wrote this?"

If my life depended on it, I could not explain what happened to Anodos. Again, I was distracted.

Sometimes the timing just isn't right. A good book and a good reader don't always connect. I feel ashamed to disagree with C.S. Lewis, William Morris, J.R.R. Tolkien, W.H. Auden and Cindy Rollins.

You came through in
...more
John
Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Very good. Now if only I could understand more of the symbolism....
Joanna
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Be thy heart a well of love, my child,
Flowing, and free, and sure;
For a cistern of love, though undefiled,
Keeps not the spirit pure.
"

This book is unlike anything else I have ever read, and soooooo beautiful!!! I didn't want it to end, but I know I'll be reading it again and again. I feel like there is so much to be drawn from it that I haven't grasped yet. What fascinated me most was the shadow that followed Anodos and its effect on him and those around him. I can't quite make up my mind what i
...more
Jeslyn
Nov 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Nick
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, adult-fiction
This is one of those books that I wanted to love. There are portions of it that I really enjoyed, and I like the overall tone of the book. It is high and poetic, but this is also where I get lost. As I read it, I felt like there was a lot going over my head. I might need to get some sort of commentary on this book or reread it with some people that are smarter than me. I will definitely have to tackle this again in the future.
Heideblume
Oct 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Atmosfere ottocentesce, romantiche, evocative, oniriche. Molte descrizioni e poca azione. Molta “esperienza sentimentale” e poche avventure.
Le idee ci sono (Es. metaletteratura: la fiction permette di sperimentare e immedesimarsi in situazioni che non abbiamo vissuto in prima persona nella vita reale ma che comunque ci hanno trasmesso-insegnato qualcosa), gli sviluppi un po' meno. E' una materia acerba, ma già si sapeva - l'autore è diventato famoso con altri romanzi. In compenso questo libro h
...more
Chad Gibbons
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Michaela
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Elizabeth A.G.
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pleasantly surprised by this book, as I normally do not read much "fantasy" literature, but then the author, George MacDonald, did clarify this is not the usual children's fairy tale in the title, Phantastes: A Fairie Romance for Men and Women. The story centers around Anodos who has turned 21 and heir to the estate of his father, who has died. Anodos is given the key to his father's secretary and his journey begins upon opening a small drawer in that desk releasing an aged, miniscule and ...more
Beth Wangler
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I have such mixed feelings about this book, so I'm going to rate each third separately.

The beginning of "Phantastes": 3*

The book started off delightful and whimsical. We're drawn into a perplexing but beautiful faerie world with the narrator, Anados. It's lovely and leisurely and adventurous. I felt a little lost, since I had no previous exposure to faerie lore (my fairy experience is very Disney-fied), but it was okay, since Anados also didn't know a ton about what was happening. Though it was
...more
matthew
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Cphe
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd never come across this author before and it certainly wasn't a novel that I'd have ever undertaken to read on my own. The genre alone isn't one that I'm normally drawn to. However, it was a group read and I'm glad that I participated in the read.

The story unfolds with the main character Anodos and his adventures as he navigates his way through Fairyland, the creatures he encounters and his growth as a young man.

The strength of this novel lies in the imagery of Fairyland and it's strange inha
...more
Chris
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, classics
"Everywhere in Fairy Land forests are the places where one may most certainly expect adventures."

I loved the vivid descriptions in this fantasy journey of Anodos, but it was so meandering that I got bogged down in this relatively short read. Sometimes I felt I was hearing the same story over and over just in a slightly different light or setting. There were definitely some sections, I found more enchanting than others, but overall it was just OK. Maybe its because the fantasy genre has come so f
...more
Laura
Nov 01, 2012 marked it as to-read
Free download at Gutenberg Project. ...more
Kevin F
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
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
Skrivena stranica
May 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those who like Alice in Wonderland
Shelves: fantasy, 2020
As I never understood the appeal of Alice in Wonderland, the same can be said for this book. In many things they felt quite similar to me: main character who is not having much real connections with other characters, bunch of almost random events happening in the book, circular plot that ends with waking up so we can't be sure if it really happened even in the book itself. I have problems with books like that being called fantasy. I find Alice in Wonderland to be boring and the same goes for thi ...more
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Classics and the ...: Phantastes - Background, Context and Other Discussions 19 100 Feb 17, 2019 06:17AM  
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George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister.

He was educated at Aberdeen University and after a short and stormy career as a minister at Arundel, where his unorthodox views led to his dismissal, he turned to fiction as a means of earning a living. He wrote over 50 books.

Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, MacDonald inspired many authors, such
...more

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