Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Victorian Fantasy: George MacDonald's "The Princess and the Goblin"

After a dire calamity (or possibly Real Life) caused last month's meeting of the Victorian Fantasy group - which was to be a discussion of William Morris's proto-fantasy novel The Water of the Wondrous Isles - we reconvened last Wednesday to natter on about George MacDonald's 1872 children's novel The Princess and the Goblin.

In the book, eight-year-old Princess Irene - forthright, honest, and brave, and wise beyond her years - meets her great-great grandmother, a woman of seemingly magical powers whom no one else can see, while escaping the clutches of goblins, who have vowed to seek revenge on humans for perceived mistreatment. We also encounter young Curdie, a miner's son (and a miner himself), who rescues the princess, discovers the goblins' plot, is captured and rescued by Irene, and helps save the day when the goblins finally make their move on the king and his court. (And for those who didn't get enough of Irene and Curdie, MacDonald penned a sequel, The Princess and Curdie, to continue their adventures.)

Dame Kghia noted that some critics believe the story to be a religious allegory, with the (generally unseen) grandmother as a Christ figure, Irene as a true believer, Curdie slowly converting from a non-believer to a believer, and Irene's nurse, Lootie, a foolish woman incapable of belief in what she cannot see.

I was grateful that the novel was a fairly quick read, as I had forgotten about the meeting until after I returned from vacation, a mere two days before the group met. At least the material was fresh in my mind!

We had a small but spirited group to discuss the book:

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Sir JJ Drinkwater

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Dame Kghia Gherardi

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Miss Herndon Bluebird

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Mr. Roy Smashcan and Miss Sanchia Bumblefoot

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Miss Silvermane Trefusis

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Your humble scribe

Next month we will cover J. M. Barrie's 1904 novel Peter Pan.

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