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New Reading Group: Phantastes by George MacDonald

What happens when a self-assured university student comes home as a “chivalric” English gentleman, ready to assume responsibility for his sisters and the family estate, but somehow wakes up the next morning as a stranger in Fairyland?

Come join us on an adventure in which the young Anodos is forced to reassess his assumptions about both himself and others–and eventually to deconstruct his entire concept of a hero. Within the realm of faerie, he begins to build a completely different way of engaging with the world and to adopt a whole new understanding of honor and even of self.

Reading this short novel radically impacted C. S. Lewis, who said the journey of Anodos showed him holiness and “baptized” his imagination. He returned to it again and again, claiming in later years that Phantastes had shaped his philosophy of life and even his vocational attitude more than any other book.

About the Group

MacDonald scholar and lecturer Kirstin Jeffery Johnson leads a read-through and discussion of Phantastes, providing context and guidance for navigating an often bewildering but profoundly moving and influential fantasy novel.

The “live” version of this book group (including the online forum) opens May 24 and will include Zoom chats every Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. CST for five weeks. However, you are welcome to join at any time, even after the live chats have ended. The discussions will be archived, and the forum will be open indefinitely for new registrants to continue reading and discussing the book.

Here’s a note from Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson to kick off our discussion of MacDonald:

“Hello all & welcome! I look forward to meeting you. And I’d love to know, as we prep for our first gathering, if folk are coming to Phantastes for the first time, if you’ve tried it before but faltered, or if you are amongst the rabid re-readers. If you’ve put it off or put it down, then go ahead and share why. If you can’t stop coming back—share that too! The goal, of course, is to convert you all into Lewis-style addicts… Also—let us know if you are new to MacDonald altogether. If you are a selective fan or a die-hard, what’s your favourite MacDonald reading?”

Phantastes is available in the Rabbit Room Store.


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