Monday, April 27, 2009

book review

Phantastes: george macdonald

a fairy tale of the polar opposition and yet plural living arrangement of beauty and ugliness
a tale of love sought and surrendered to greater nobility
a treatise of all things lovely
confirmation that, in fact, overuse of commas, does indeed, make for great writing. I knew I was in good company.

favorite exerpts

"I saw thee ne'er before
I see thee never more.
But love, and help, and pain, beautiful one,
have made thee mine
till all my years are done."

Ere long, I learned it was not myself, but only my shadow, that I had lost. I learned that is is better, a thousand-fold, for a proud man to fall and be humbled, than to hold up his head in his pride and fancied innocence. I learned that he that will be a hero, will barely be a man; that he that will be nothing but a doer of his work, is sure of his manhood. In nothing was my ideal lowered, or dimmed, or grown less precious; I only saw it too plainly, to set myself for a moment beside it. Indeed my ideal soon became my life; whereas, formerly, my life had consisted in a vain attempt to behold if not my ideal in myself, at least myself in my ideal. Now, however, I took, at first what was perhaps a mistaken pleasure, in despising and degrading myself. Another self seemes to arise, like a white spirit from a dead man, from the dumb and trampled self of the past. Doubtless, this self must again die and be buried, and again, from its tomb, spring a winged child, but of this my history as yet bears the record. Self will come to life even in the slaying of self, but there is ever something deeper and stonger than it, which will emerge at last from the onknown abyss of the soul: will it be as a solemn gloom, burning with eyes? or a clear morning after the rain? or a smiling child, that finds itself nowhere and everywhere?

...there is no cheating in nature and the simple unsought feelings of the soul.

As in all sweetest music, a tinge of sadness was in every note. Nor do we know how much of pleasures even of life we owe to the intermingled sorrows. Joy cannot unfold the deepest truths, although deepest truth must be deepest joy. Cometh white-robed sorrow, stooping and wan, and flingeth wide the doors she may not enter. Almost we linger with Sorrow for very love.

I sat a long time, unwilling to go, but my unfinished story urged me on. I must act and wander.

...the sound of a closing door, the saddest of all sounds sometimes.

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