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Paperback Lilith Book

ISBN: 1537572210

ISBN13: 9781537572215

Lilith

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Book Overview

George MacDonald was a Scottish author and Christian minister. MacDonald was one of the first great writers of fantasy fiction and his books influenced other legendary authors such as Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis. MacDonald produced many classics including Lilith, The Princess and the Goblin, Sir Gibbie, Phantastes, and David Elginbrod.Lilith is a fantasy novel that centers around Mr. Vane who owns a library that is haunted by its...

Customer Reviews

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A bridge between worlds

The arena of twentieth century British Christian fiction, which includes authors from Chesterton to Auden to C.S. Lewis, appears to owe a great deal to George MacDonald, whose Victorian fantasy as demonstrated in "Lilith" has a primitive and dark undercurrent. Nightmarish yet optimistic, "Lilith" is possibly the most vivid life-after-death parable since Dante's Divine Comedy.The protagonist and first-person narrator is an excitable man named Mr. Vane who lives in an old house that has been in his family for generations. One day he notices an odd creature making its way through the library; this turns out to be the birdlike Mr. Raven, who introduces him to a mysterious world beyond a magic mirror stored in the garret of the house. A more modern author might be tempted to give this world a name to distinguish it from the real one, but to MacDonald it is merely an extension of Mr. Vane's conscience. Mr. Vane is understandably frightened of but fascinated by this world. Part of it appears to be a realm of the Dead where skeletal apparitions dance and fight as though they were still living; part a forest where stupid, brutal giants and innocent, benevolent "little ones" share their habitats; part a murky moor where leopardesses roam in search of babies to eat and enchanting women are to be found. At the center of this world, embodying its evil, commanded by an entity known as the "Shadow," is the demon princess Lilith, a direct allusion to the Assyrian goddess and to the legend of Adam's first wife. As a guide to this netherworld, Mr. Raven acts as a kind of Virgil to Mr. Vane's Dante; the structure of the story has a vague analogy to the sequence of Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. Mr. Vane's role is less clear; he could be considered a crusader against evil or an emissary of the living in the land of the dead. However, I wouldn't want to restrict my interpretation to a religious allegory because the novel works as pure mythology, although supplementary to Judeo-Christian theology. For all his antiquated, overly formal prose, MacDonald displays a very poetic sensibility for symbolism; for example, he personifies the sun as "he" and the moon as "she," as if they were a married pair of celestial luminaries. There is also an implied notion of a library as a gateway to the imaginations of the innumerable deceased, which is a comforting thought that connotes potential immortality through the written word. If nothing else, "Lilith" functions as a bridge between two enduring traditions -- imaginative classic literature and twentieth century fantasy.

A good kind of weird.

This is the story of a man wandering through a dream-world -- or perhaps, out of our world of dreams. (Macdonald's story puts an interesting spin on the ancient Chinese riddle.) Whether dream or awakening, you may have to wander for a while before you get your bearings. The whole book works a strange magic on the susceptible reader, but it may take me a few more journeys to figure it out very well. MacDonald tells his story, or weaves his magic, for a deeper part of the soul than most authors attempt to reach. There is a good kind of weird going on here: a raven who is a librarian, a moon that protects a traveler, a cat woman whose scratches heal. The villains in this book are nasty indeed, though Macdonald shows how pain and loss (which he embodies with some ghastly images) can bring about the worst person's redemption. (His thoughts on that subject bring to mind another image of hell, "the death room" of a communist prison camp where the Jewish pastor Richard Wurmbrand lived for two and a half years. "Fascists, Communists, saints, murderers, thieves, priests," he said, "none died without making his peace with God and man." So there is some empirical base for his hopes; though perhaps less Scriptural.) This book is not for everyone -- it is not "science fiction," but fantasy, a genre some people cannot abide. A couple good companion volumes would be C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, and M. Scott Peck's The People of the Lie, both of which contain related insights into the nature of The Great Choice. (In fact, in the former, Lewis makes Macdonald his guide to heaven and hell.) ...

Simply Amazing

I don't think I even know how many times I've read this novel as it is truely my favorite. Each and every time I do, however, I see something I missed or understand something about the world I didn't understand or see previously. I am an avid fantasy reader but no author of the hundreds of fantasy novels I've read can even touch the world that George MacDonald creates in Lilith. The fact that it was written in the 1800's boggles the mind considering the depth that the author goes into theory of parallel universe and basic perception of "who" you are. From a Christian perspective, I think the word "pure" is what comes to mind often when reading this novel or Phantasies. George MacDonald also has several childrens stories which my nephews love, The Light Princess for instance. Whether your reading for spiritual reasons or strictly for a wonderous journey in the world of fantasy George MacDonald is, as C.S. Lewis said, "The Master".

a tale rich in paradox

Rich in symbolism, steeped in paradox, this is a tale of a man's journey and his coming to terms with the frailty of humanity when it is seen in the light of God. MacDonald never hides the basis of his paradigm--that there is a God who loves us, who knows better than we do what is best for us--rather, he weaves it into a rich tapestry of adventure wherein key characters make known the paradox that is at the heart of Chrisitianity: he who would be first must be last. This is not an easy read. And, truly, anyone who is not willing to accept that an author may expound his faith through the words and deeds of his characters--indeed, through the fatherly nature of the narative itself--will little likely enjoy reading this tale. But to those who are ready to dive in to the heart of a realm of paradox in an attempt to better know the God that MacDonald worshiped, this may very well be a life-changing story. I am not a man given to favorites. But no other work has colored my life so beautifully as MacDonald's LILITH. And no other story is more dear to my heart.

A haunting tale hovering between dream and nightmare,

LILITH is best considered in the context of MacDonald's life, and remembering his earlier work PHANTASTES. PHANTASTES he wrote as a young man (35), LILITH he wrote at age 85. LILITH presents the maturity of the thoughts he introduced in PHANTASTES. To try to understand either work outside his religion (Christianity) would not do them justice. LILITH is considered a dark romance, but I don't think MacDonald would have called it so. It is full of a strange, mystical Christian hope; it is the tale of a spiritual journey, of dreams and visions just beyond our conscious reckoning -- always haunting us with the nagging question of whether our dreams are more real than what we call reality. The tale begins with a young man, Mr. Vane, come of age, and into the inheritance of a great estate. Mr. Vane is a man given to both inquiry and reflection. As he peruses the great library of books and manuscripts collected by his ancestors, his perception of reality is challenged and stretched to include, among other things, a talking raven. The raven becomes his guide into another world, strange to behold; the realm of the seven dimensions and the ten senses, MacDonald calls it. (What ever could he mean?) LILITH is introduced well into the work, an emaciated being near death, until Mr. Vane unwittingly nurses her back to health. MacDonald certainly patterns her after the demon of Jewish folklore for whom she is named. All the demon's traits are apparent: cold beauty, fierce pride, seduction, hatred of men and children, even vampirism. C.S. Lewis also picked up on this theme of the wicked female protagonist. In THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE he tells us the White Witch is descended from Lilith. As Mr. Vane bounces back and forth between physical and spiritual dimensions, he is confronted by the fact that he can do no good of himself. His futile attempts to prove his worth bring him sorrow and defeat, as when he leads a group of innocent children out of ignorance and simplicity to a city where their leader is murdered by her own estranged mother (Lilith). The raven's insistence that Mr. Vane sleep before he can be of any use or value is incomprehensible to Mr. Vane, so he continues his various exploits, each ending is greater despair. Finally, Mr. Vane agrees if sleep is what is required, that he must do. But when he discovers the raven's idea of sleep is to repose lifeless in a cold, dark catacomb full of ageless corpses for time unknown, Mr. Vane is not so willing. All of MacDonald's writing is heavy with Christian allegory. Deciphering his meaning is not a light undertaking. That he perceives death as a temporary state, where one emerges new as a butterfly transformed from a caterpillar is clear enough. That a true spiritual man must cease from his own labor (die to self), and rest in God's peace may be an interpretation of MacDonald's notions of sleep and death, but already I feel I am off solid ground. Mr.
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