04 September 2013
Good is Coming
There must be a truth involved in it, though we may but in part lay hold of the meaning. Even the memories of past pain are beautiful; and past delights, though beheld only through clefts in the grey clouds of sorrow.
-Phantastes by George MacDonald
This is not the kind of book I would pick up by way of judging by its cover. I generally do not fall for the "fantasy" fiction that looks like this. But George MacDonald is all I needed to know to pick this up. This is the true fantasy book, published in 1858, and not like the rubbish that is in that category today. I just finished reading Phantastes and I was sad to end it. I understand why C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle loved it so much. I was captivated by the dreaminess and odd situations, kind of like Alice in Wonderland.
The tale follows Anodos, the young man who enters a strange land, fairy land, which is dark and dangerous, with weird creatures and trees who are good and bad. Full of good characters full of wisdom to guide Anodos on his journey.
The atmosphere written by MacDonald seeps into your world of your imagination by way of a flood that comes into Anodos' room, and he wanders into fairy land, walking through dark forests and meeting wise women. He meets knights. He is tricked by evil. He never knows what is ahead but he presses on, spending time in the palace, then wandering again comes to a beach where he climbs into a boat which takes him to an island where a woman lives in a cottage at the center with nothing around it. The cottage has 4 doors, each leading to a different place entirely. Each door represents something, such as despair. Anodos goes through each door.....and I won't say what happens.
Also along the journey, he fights giants with two brothers, and mourns the loss of friends. The reader can feel the effect of his sadness. Through the sorrow, he finds a path that leads to good. At last he befriends a knight and a lady who he greatly admires and they approach a ceremony that Anodos quickly realizes is evil. He senses the bad immediately and cannot sit still to watch, so he takes action. I will not spoil it for anyone who reads it. You just need to read.
But at the end, he is sitting under a beech tree and all the adventures and wisdom mixes in his mind with the whispers of what is to come as he sits there he hears "a great good is coming- is coming- is coming to thee Anodos" and he believes that good is always coming. And it is.