The Complete Fairy Tales, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


George MacDonald occupied a major position in the intellectual life of his Victorian contemporaries. This volume brings together all eleven of his shorter fairy stories as well as his essay "The Fantastic Imagination". The subjects are those of traditional fantasy: good and wicked fairies, children embarking on elaborate quests, and journeys into unsettling dreamworlds.

Within this familiar imaginative landscape, his children's stories were profoundly experimental, questioning the association of childhood with purity and innocence, and the need to separate fairy tale wonder from adult scepticism and disbelief.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literary essays
  • ISBN: 9780140437379

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Macdonald's fairy tales have subtlety. His are proper fairy tales, yet the moral is not overstated, so obvious as those of Jesus or Aesop. Knowing of Macdonald as a moralist first, from C.S. Lewis's writings, I looked for the moral of each story. It sometimes seems obvious; the Princess of The Two Princesses is a little dense not to learn sooner than she does. But that is an almost superficial level of morality in the story. That is, there is a deeper level in the story, written in such a way that it surprises the reader. At least, my reactions surprised me. For example, in The Light Princess the hero sacrifices himself for love of the princess. This is nothing new. Yet it becomes a moving story with the princess's metamorphosis, as she realizes his sacrifice. Macdonald gives the reader just enough psychology of the characters to make them more human than most fairy tales provide.

Review by

Possibly the language and era in which the tales in this book was written effected my enjoyment of this book. There were some tales in it that I did like, for example, The History of Photogen and Nycteris was quite good actually. Overall however, I found most of the tales to be preachy and in effect little more than sermons dressed up as fairy tales. This makes sense since the author, George MacDonald, was a Christian minister, but understanding in this case did not increase my enjoyment. On a positive note, the tales are very well written. The introduction also contains some very good insights by the author about writing and fairy tales in general that I found interesting. I do not dispute that this is an important and influential work, I just did not find the majority of the book to be entertaining.For those that enjoy reading the classics, don't let my review put you off. I am judging this book entirely by my enjoyment of it, not by its literary merit. I would say that it would be worth your time to give it a shot. You may find it much more rewarding than I did.

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