by George MacDonald

Paperback, 1981



Call number

823.8 MAC



Call number

823.8 MAC


The father of fantasy literature, George MacDonald was acclaimed by C. S. Lewis as "my master." This 1895 novel about a man who travels through time to meet Adam and Eve explores humanity's fall from grace and ultimate redemption. Rich in symbolism and allegory, it ranks with the best of Poe.


Eerdmans Pub Co 1981-08-01 (1981)

Original publication date



0802860613 / 9780802860613



(242 ratings; 3.8)

User reviews

LibraryThing member paradoxosalpha
This book has been aptly described by Aleister Crowley as "A good introduction to the Astral." It is insulted by comparison to the didactic allegories of C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, although they were strongly inspired by MacDonald's work. Lilith is instead an imaginative portrayal of adult mystical realization, as adumbrated through the distortions of reason, desire, and memory that befall spiritual seekers in the mundus imaginalis.… (more)
LibraryThing member kronos999
Though an obvious inspiration, comparing Lilith to the Chronicles of Narnia is like comparing car with a toy model. Superficially, they resemble each other, internally one is obviously far more complex while the other is a children's toy. This is a novel for adults. It makes no attempt to hide the Christian allegory, which I am sure would offend some readers. It also would probably offend some fundamentalist Christians should they stop and think about the message it portrays. It has the internal consistency that Lewis lacks, though is far less an exciting read. This is not an adventure novel. It is a journey into the realms of mysticim disguised as fiction. And it is one of the few books that has truly shifted my paradigm of the universe.

If you're looking for a traditional fantasy novel, don't go for this one. If you're looking for something to chew over when it comes to life, the universe and everything, this may be a perfect match.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
This 1895 book was recommended in A Reader's Guide to Fantasy's "Seven-League Bookshelf"--a list of 30-odd books considered the "cream" of the genre. Dante's Divine Comedy is mentioned in the book and I can see similarities with not just Dante but works of Carroll and Lewis. Macdonald was a close friend of Lewis Carroll and saw Alice in Wonderland in manuscript; C.S. Lewis greatly admired Macdonald and named him as one of his most important influences. As with Carroll's Through the Looking Glass and Lewis' Narnia, the narrator of this story steps into another world through an ordinary piece of furniture--in this case a mirror--and there are animal characters, notably a talking raven and a leopard. As with Narnia and the Divine Comedy, this is essentially a work of Christian Fiction, even more allegorical than Narnia as dealing like Dante with the landscape of the afterlife. Although given Macdonald's Universalist beliefs, there is no eternal hell--someday all will find salvation, though in Macdonald's conception it won't be easy.

I can't quite say I really liked this. I'd say this hovers between a two and a three star. On one hand, I made it through to the end, it has interesting ideas and historical importance in the fantasy genre. On the other hand, I often found this dull, no characters captured my sympathy or imagination and this just didn't strike me as an outstanding example of the kind of book it exemplifies. This doesn't have the humor, whimsy, wit or charm of Through the Looking Glass or Narnia or the prodigious imagination, unity, beautiful language and architecture of The Divine Comedy. I can't imagine I'll ever reread this, and I just can't see this as being in the same league as Dante, Carroll or Lewis.
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LibraryThing member nillacat
Similar in theme to Phantastes (redemption, selfless love through service) but more didactically, and treating explicitly biblical mythology. At times it does give some insight into the state of mystic rapture, and the zen idea of "beginner's mind" but on the whole less successfully than Phantastes.
LibraryThing member jaygheiser
Entertaining read, and clearly an inspiration for Narnia Chronicles and other CS Lewis fiction, and apparently L'Engle, too.
LibraryThing member ben_a
This book was assigned in high school in a elective on "Myth, Legend, and Fantasy" (Mr. Bleecker, if you're out there, you were amazing). It succeeds as few fantasies do in being truly strange and alienating, and I mean that in the best possible sense. Lewis in his forward notes the deficiencies of the prose style, and I can't disagree, but it's a book that stays with you as few do.… (more)
LibraryThing member Al-G
Both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien list MacDonald as one of their influences and it is certainly apparent in his story telling. This book has shades of Narnia and Middle Earth both in it. It is a good story, but it was originally written in 1895 so the syntax and grammar make it a bit cumbersome to read. Still it is worth the read if one can wade through that aspect of it - the story is both dark and haunting and offers insights into MacDonald's theology (he was preacher and theologian as well as a writer) and understandings of the Divine as Mr. Vane (the main character) struggles to understand what it means to be alive, to love, and to be in relationship.… (more)
LibraryThing member marysneedle
This story is steeped in lots of symbolism. Macdonald is a Christian Universalist and as such this story concerns the struggles of life, death and salvation. Being written in the late 1800s this is not an easy read but was well worth the effort.
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
I've loved several books by MacDonald, but the descriptions for this mentioned 'evil' and 'horror' - and sure enough when I started to read it was very darkly mysterious. Not to mention allegorical beyond my abilities to decipher. I did read more than 20% before giving up. Oh well. This edition (at least my copy, which is available to you) has small print but is in a crisp font on bright white paper.… (more)


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