"George MacDonald: Victorian Mythmaker," by Rolland Hein (StarSong, 453 pp.; $22.99, hardcover); "An Expression of Character: The Letters of George MacDonald," edited by Glenn Edward Sadler (Eerdmans, 395 pp.; $29.99, hardcover). Reviewed by Edward Gilbreath.

In 1947, C. S. Lewis released a curious collection of excerpts from the stories and published sermons of the Scottish preacher and novelist George MacDonald (1824-1905). In the book's preface, Lewis wrote, "I know hardly any other writer who seems to be closer, or more continually close, to the Spirit of Christ Himself. … I regarded him as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him."

Unfortunately, MacDonald did not live to witness the renewed demand for his works that followed Lewis's generous endorsement. The unassuming Scot would never have imagined that long after his death a whole new audience would be rediscovering his books.

MacDonald, best known for his children's stories such as "At the Back of the North Wind" and "The Princess and the Goblin" and for his trailblazing ideas about the place of imagination in the Christian life, was a warm, sagacious man who possessed a gift for observing the sacred in every aspect of living. A devoted husband and father (of 11 children), he headed a household that was known for its joy and charity, despite the emotional and financial straits in which the MacDonald family often found themselves.

For many years, the only substantial biography of MacDonald was the 1924 volume "George MacDonald and His Wife," written by his oldest son, Greville. But thanks in part to the marketing muscle of Lewis's name, by ...

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