I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master,” wrote C.S. Lewis of George MacDonald, “indeed, I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him.”
Of all the masters of the written word that Lewis taught and studied at Oxford and Cambridge, why did he choose this one man to so acclaim? The scholar who gave the world Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity, and The Narnia Books, among others, was not the only literate Christian so affected. G.K. Chesterton wrote, “I for one can really testify to a book that made a difference to my whole existence, which helped me to see things in a certain way from the start.… Of all the stories I have ever read … it remains the most real … the most like life. It is called The Princess and the Goblin and is by George MacDonald.”
The object of these kudos is an obscure Scotsman whose major portion of prolific writings from the age of Dickens and Thackeray until recently could most often be found on the dustiest shelf in the library—if at all. Happily, his works are being reprinted. William B. Eerdmans has issued The Gifts of the Child Christ, a number of his best stories, in a two-volume set. Rolland Hein has condensed a collection of his sermons, Life Essential, The Hope of the Gospel, unfailingly upholding the Christ-like gentleness of this simple Scottish visionary.
Both Lewis and Chesterton are now coming into their due honor in this generation with new books studying their work, their lives, their religious convictions. Believers in this country have given especially high esteem to Lewis’s works, and, according to Lewis himself, that’s just the rub: “It has always seemed to me that those who receive my books kindly take even now insufficient notice of ...1
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