George MacDonald and Originality


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I pride myself on having read a lot. I’ve dabbled in just about every genre, I know narrative structure and standard plot devices well enough that I am not often surprised by stories anymore. So, when I opened George MacDonald’s 1897 novella “The Light Princess,” I was not expecting something fresh or surprising. I was expecting an old-fashioned fairy tale.

I was wrong. I’ve never read anything quite like “The Light Princess.” MacDonald’s voice is completely original. His depictions of the prince and princess of a fairy tale are paradoxically (given the title) down-to-earth, normal people to whom fantastical events happen. And his idea–what if a princess were born who weighed nothing at all, and ran a real risk of blowing away in the wind–is both poetic and hilarious.

Nothing is quite like the stories George MacDonald wrote more than one hundred years ago. Nothing will ever be quite like them. And there are always surprises to be found between the covers of books.


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