To Be Royal in George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin (1 of 3)

To be called a “princess” by anyone in my grade 7 class is not a compliment. The term is used pejoratively to say the least–a term used to convey that a person is acting selfish, arrogant, egocentric, and entitled. It is a term that can be directed at both boys and girls, but most often towards the girls who are perceived as being a little too big for their own breeches. It is a term we endow on younger girls and despise in the older ones. And while calling a boy a “prince” seems antiquated, the term still generally has positive connotations. No doubt, today’s princes inherently struggle with vanity, arrogance, and probably a little absent-mindedness, there is still room for courage and a sense of honour in the term, making it a more graciousness term than that of a “princess.” And while there is lot to be said about the gender issues presented here (Monika Hilder’s newer book on the subject is fantastic!), I believe that there is an overall misunderstanding of the symbol of royalty. This begs the question–

Is there more to these terms than the emaciated shells of royalty we are presently asked to accept? The answer, I believe, is yes.

To answer this question, I would like to take a few posts to discuss how George MacDonald defines the term “princess” and ultimately the term “royalty” in his book The Princess and the Goblin. As an introduction to the topic, I would like to share Ursula Le Guin’s introduction to the Puffin Classic edition of the book:

“MacDonald is also stern and clear about what nobility is. It has nothing to do with money or social status. A princess is a girl who behaves nobly; a girl who behaves nobly is a princess. Curdie the miner, being brave and kind, and behaving (or anyhow trying to behave) nobly and wisely, is a prince. The king is king because he’s good man. No other definition is allowed. This is radically moral democracy. It’s very different from the lazy-minded stories that call some characters good and others bad although they all behave exactly the same way; the Goods win the battles and the Bads lose, besides being ugly. MacDonald’s goblins are ugly only because they behave badly.”

 

To Be Royal (2 of 3)

To Be Royal (3 of 3)

C.S. Lewis on the Power of Good Literature

As a teacher, there is one universal piece of advice that I give to almost all parents: give your children time and space to read good books–guide them to good books, discuss good books, and read good books for yourself. And while reading books help a student’s reading comprehension, writing ability, critical thought, and myriad of other academic abilities, when I suggest to parents to promote reading, this is what I really mean to say:

cslewis1“Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality. There are mass emotions which heal the wound; but they destroy the privilege. In them our separate selves are pooled and we sink back into sub-individuality. But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like a night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.”

From Lewis’s book An Experiment in Criticism 

A CALL FOR THOUGHTS ON GEORGE MACDONALD

The prolific writer and great Christian mind of G.K. Chesterton once wrote this about the book The Princess and the Goblin:

But in a certain rather special sense I for one can really testify to a book that has made a difference to my whole existence, which helped me to see things in a certain way from the start; a vision of things which even so real a revolution as a change of religious allegiance has substantially only crowned and confirmed. Of all the stories I ever read … it remains the most real, the most realistic, in the exact sense of the phrase the most like life. It is called The Princess and the Goblin, and is by George MacDonald….

In the next two weeks I am going to be doing a 3-4 part blog series on The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, and I would like to include some of your thoughts and/or experiences with the book. As a little guidance, you might consider answering one or more of the questions below (but don’t feel inhibited by them). Please leave any and all thoughts or comments that you have…no matter how brief or general. I really just want to hear from you!

Questions to Consider

1. When did you first read the book, and what were your first impressions?

2. Have you read the book as an adult? Impressions?

3. Any character or scene standout to you? Why?

4. Did the book clarify any aspect of faith for you?

5. Favourite quotes.

My New Online Fairy Tale Class is Live!

Hey everyone! My course is now live and has had nearly 250 students enroll in the first day!

The course is at a reduced price right now ($12), but it will return to its normal price of $25 in one week. There are lots of great introduction videos and good bit-sized pieces of information. Regardless of age or experience with fairy tales, I’m positive that you will be able to get something from this class. I hope you enjoy it!

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Fairy Tales in a Flash: Sharing Stories that Matter

Introduction to The Princess and the Pea

Happy Monday Morning (as much as possible),

Not sure what the weather is like where you’re at, but it’s a frosty and sunny Monday morning here in my little part of Vancouver, BC. I’m nearly finished with all of my intro videos for my course, so I wanted to share one with you this morning. And of course, if you have time–read the story The Princess and the Pea…it’s really short!

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