Scotland's beloved storyteller, George MacDonald, 19th-century Scottish novelist and poet, was reintroduced to 20th century Christians by C. S. Lewis, whose reading of MacDonald's Phantastes triggered his own spiritual awakening and conversion. Other renowned writers have voiced similar acknowledgements. G. K. Chesterton said of MacDonald, "If we test the matter of originality of attitude, George MacDonald was one of the three or four greatest men of the 19th century." W. H. Auden added, "In his power...to project his inner life into images...which are valid for all, he is one of the most remarkable writers of the 19th century."
Despite acclaim by his peers, historians, Christian statesmen, and literary giants of the past 100 years, MacDonald's life and writings continue to be a source of controversy. Challenging the traditional religious views of his day, MacDonald was continually stretching, reaching, probing, questioning, and searching for truth. Author Michael R. Phillips leads the listener through those controversies to bring a fresh and insightful look at the man, his times, and his work.
©2015 Michael R. Phillips (P)2015 Oasis Audio
This biography is extremely well written with many quotes from MacDonald's own writing, which have autobiographical elements. The narration is excellent. The reader does a great Scots accent. In this biography you see the goodness and even holiness of C.S. Lewis' "mentor." By the end you feel you know MacDonald but also wish you had had the chance to know him during his lifetime.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this biography. Its very well researched and very detailed. I have read other MacDonald biographies but this is truly the best. It answers all the questions I have ever had concerning MacDonald. Though I don't agree with all of his theological musings the greatness of the man in his love for the Lord transcends all error. No one ever better described what Christian character should look like in a person than does McDonald in his novels and he apparently lived it out in his own life. I think I'm going to go right back to the beginning and listen to this biography all over again!
After nearly 40 years of coming to know this author through his writings, it was time for me to learn more about the man's life to find out if I was coming to know him rightly. I was not disappointed. The man I have come to admire and respect, to love, is indeed the true man. Listening to the story of his life was not unlike the experience of drawing from the depths of his nearness to God as is communicated in his books.
Depends on the subject matter
The author is clearly strongly Christian, and is writing about a Christian thinker who broke out of his Calvinist upbringing to present to the world a different approach to the religion. My issue is that MacDonald is presented as such a "hero" for "arriving at the TRUE meaning of God's Word."
I mean, it is quite impressive that MacDonald did overcome the harsh, fire & brimstone preaching of his youth, and he countered the predetermination of orthodox Calvinism without the excesses of many who rebel against their early teaching, and he's a very interesting man. But the rather gushing way in which the author presents MacDonald's eventual teachings as "truth" I find a bit galling. But what would you expect in an atheist? :-)
For your comparison, however, I find a lot of C.S. Lewis' writings fascinating -- Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity -- so I'm not against Christian writing. But I felt a historian should maintain more distance. I picked this book up because I knew MacDonald was a big influence on Lewis, and was interested in getting more depth on my understanding of the man and the times. Instead, I found myself wrinkling my nose at the tone and not really getting into it. I didn't even finish.
Well, not a novel, so doesn't apply. I did think that the performance was excellent, in that I never really noticed it. That is, it the performance itself never distracted me from the book, which is what I hope for when listening to a biography.
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