George Macdonald’s fantasy Lillith made me want to die.

While George Macdonald’s book Lillith is one of his more “literary” fantasy books, it may embody exactly what I long for when I read books in this genre. In fact, and more specifically, it made me long for death. This sounds morbid, I know, but let me explain.

If you haven’t read the book, there are a few major themes that are threaded through the novel- the ones I noticed most were redemption and the providential role of death in God’s plan. MacDonald approached these topics in a very unique way. Usually when we watch a movie or we read a book, the theme of redemption presents itself something like this: the main character is described, he has a problem and often fails at something, then somehow, through his own power (or even a little help from others) he solves the problem and reaches some sort of “redemption.” Even in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series both Edmond and Eustace (who are some of the most unpleasant characters) eventually come around and end up doing “good” and essentially redeeming themselves at the end. In Lillith, there are characters that do what we would call good and bad actions, but that has little to do with their development. Their behavior is merely a part of the story- none of them are redeemed until they are invited, and eventually succumb, to sleep in Adam and Eve’s chamber.

I’ve read through much of Randy Alcorn’s book “Heaven” and while I thought it was exceptionally well done, it didn’t satisfy my appetite. I started the book expecting it to cause me to anticipate heaven. It didn’t. It was too factual and stale. (Trust that I am used to factual and stale- I’m a philosopher!) On the other hand the book Lillith made me wonder. Isn’t that what all good Christian fantasy is supposed to do? It made me think about how “redemption” and our eventual complete salvation might take place. It made me consider how I will respond when I find myself at death’s door, knowing that salvation is on the other side. It made me long to be who God has created me to be in this life, but also imagine how things might be in the next. I can ask no more from a fantasy book than this…

About deanhardy23

Dean Hardy is the Bible Department Chair at Charlotte Christian School North Carolina. He is the author of middle grade fantasy Magnus Kir and an apologetics text entitled Stand Your Ground
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8 Responses to George Macdonald’s fantasy Lillith made me want to die.

  1. I know this is a really old post, but I just now saw it… and so I decided to read Lilith and I just finished it and it was so wonderful that I just had to tell you that you’re exactly right- it makes me want to die! It excites within me that deep longing for the last trump, for Messiah to come back, for the Bridegroom to take His bride. Ahh! I’m all giddy after reading it.

    Thanks for the little review- you’re a cool cat.


    • deanhardy23 says:

      Thanks Pete I appreciate the comment! I don’t know if you’ve read much of MacDonald, but if that was your first one of his books, you couldn’t have picked a weirder one. That and Phantastes were the weirdest of his works. But yes, he had an amazing longing for the afterlife that I admire.

      I’m digging your album with a boat on the cover. That really needs to be made into a shirt. And I’d be interested if you put out an album where you solely play the keytaur.

      Thanks for stopping by Pete!

      • It WAS my first MacDonald exposure… now I’m reading the Princess and the Goblin- have you read that one? It’s definitely an easier read than Lilith.

        WOAH thanks for checking out my stuff! Now I have to go brush up my keytar skills hehe 😉

  2. deanhardy23 says:

    THe Princess and the Goblin is my favorite fiction book. It’s rich with amazing symbolism, without being obvious or overdone. Let me know when you get to the end of the book- and I’ll throw a symbol at you that I missed the first time I read through it.

  3. I finished! Throw me a symbol! Also- do you think we could meet for lunch or coffee sometime? I live in Matthews too :]

    • deanhardy23 says:

      Cool! Every time water is mentioned it’s a symbol of baptism (in the Christian sense and the baptism of the imagination). So, when Irene is given a bath by her “Grandmother” and when the castle is flooded, it should bring to mind a purging of sin, repentance, and a turning toward “the good.”

      A little busy this week and next… but hopefully late July we can meet up!

      • Ahhh that makes so much sense. I got that idea with the bath, but I didn’t think about the castle flooding. Genius! The whole book is genius!

        Tweet me or shoot me an email when you’ve freed up!

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