The book, as a George MacDonald Fairy Tale, is delightful. It wanders quite a bit, but its descriptions have the depths of dreams, where you feel restfully awake. Initially, I had trouble understanding what the book was about until I read an article by Adrian Gunther ( “The Structure of George MacDonald’s Phantastes ” ). His article explained that this book is a coming of age story, and once I understood that, everything else made sense.
Anodos’ journey through fairyland changes him, transforming him into a man whose love is greater than himself, who cares for people even if they do not belong to him, who has begun the journey of understanding what love is through losing the recipient of his first love. His adventures along the way give us a chance to experience a similar growth in ourselves, as we become him (just as he became the protagonists of the books that he reads in the fairy palace).
As we relate to him, our own immaturities can be purged, in a way, through his experiences. It is not a journey to be taken lightly, but then, when is any journey into fairyland for the faint of heart?
© 2014 Andrea Lundgren