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Lilith Paperback – May 1 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Merchant Books (May 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603862056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603862059
  • Product Dimensions: 19.1 x 1.3 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #703,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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"Lilith is equal if not superior to the best of Poe," the great 20th-century poet W.H. Auden said of this novel, but the comparison only begins to touch on the richness, density, and wonder of this late 19th-century adult fantasy novel. First published in 1895 (inhabiting a universe with the early Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, and Oscar Wilde--not to mention Thomas Hardy), this is the story of the aptly named Mr. Vane, his magical house, and the journeys into another world into which it leads him.

Meeting up with one mystery after another, including Adam and Eve themselves, he slowly but surely explores the mystery of the human fall from grace, and of our redemption. Instructed into the ways of seeing the deeper realities of this world--seeing, in a sense, by the light of the spirit--the reader and Mr. Vane both sense that MacDonald writes from his own deep experience of radiance, from a bliss so profound that death's darkness itself is utterly eclipsed in its light. --Doug Thorpe --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

George MacDonald (1824–1905) was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, George MacDonald inspired many authors, such as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, E. Nesbit and Madeleine L'Engle. It was C.S. Lewis who wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master": "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later," said Lewis, "I knew that I had crossed a great frontier." G. K. Chesterton cited The Princess and the Goblin as a book that had "made a difference to my whole existence." Elizabeth Yates wrote of Sir Gibbie, "It moved me the way books did when, as a child, the great gates of literature began to open and first encounters with noble thoughts and utterances were unspeakably thrilling." Even Mark Twain, who initially disliked MacDonald, became friends with him, and there is some evidence that Twain was influenced by MacDonald. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
I HAD JUST FINISHED my studies at Oxford, and was taking a brief holiday from work before assuming definitely the management of the estate. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Breaking with my normal bias and preferences in the written word, I really enjoyed this little book in spite of the fact that the storyline is incredibly bizarre, fragmented and difficult to resolve in many places. This book is not for everyone.
Lilith is built upon a very old myth about the first wife of Adam-an angelic being-who was said to have been very rebellious and eventually was replaced by the more subservient human Eve (Lewis also references this myth in "That Hideous Strength"). I am not altogether certain where or how the story originated except that the Hebrew word which is translated "night specter" is lilyt, which must have somehow given rise to the story about the female demon who seeks to over power men. At points in the MacDonald narrative Adam reverts to King James old English in addressing Lilith, a touch I found a little disturbing. While the character of Lilith embodies the flesh in all of us-not just women-the use of the KJV linguistic style between Adam and Lilith seemed to adhere to the perceived rightness and superiority of the male-oriented theology of the middle ages (when the original myth was likely to have gained momentum as a means of shaming women into more subservient roles).
MacDonald uses this ancient myth to create a fantastic tale about the battle between spirit and flesh but in the telling he divulges vast philosophical/theological thoughts that take considerable energy to wade through. In the absence of realism, the philosophical core makes up for other narrative flaws. But, it's a very difficult story to read and absorb quickly. I made it about ¾ of the way through several months ago but was only able to pick it up again to finish recently.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The arena of twentieth century British Christian fiction, which includes authors from Chesterton to Auden to C.S. Lewis, appears to owe a great deal to George MacDonald, whose Victorian fantasy as demonstrated in "Lilith" has a primitive and dark undercurrent. Nightmarish yet optimistic, "Lilith" is possibly the most vivid life-after-death parable since Dante's Divine Comedy.
The protagonist and first-person narrator is an excitable man named Mr. Vane who lives in an old house that has been in his family for generations. One day he notices an odd creature making its way through the library; this turns out to be the birdlike Mr. Raven, who introduces him to a mysterious world beyond a magic mirror stored in the garret of the house. A more modern author might be tempted to give this world a name to distinguish it from the real one, but to MacDonald it is merely an extension of Mr. Vane's conscience.
Mr. Vane is understandably frightened of but fascinated by this world. Part of it appears to be a realm of the Dead where skeletal apparitions dance and fight as though they were still living; part a forest where stupid, brutal giants and innocent, benevolent "little ones" share their habitats; part a murky moor where leopardesses roam in search of babies to eat and enchanting women are to be found. At the center of this world, embodying its evil, commanded by an entity known as the "Shadow," is the demon princess Lilith, a direct allusion to the Assyrian goddess and to the legend of Adam's first wife.
As a guide to this netherworld, Mr. Raven acts as a kind of Virgil to Mr. Vane's Dante; the structure of the story has a vague analogy to the sequence of Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. Mr.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lewis was right when he described MacDonald as not a great writer, but perhaps the best myth-maker he had ever read. There are places where MacDonald could have used a good editor, sections that are unclear that could be made so, or where the feel is disjointed. However, there are other sections where the lack of clarity is simply because of the great depth, as one looks down into a storm-tossed pool extending into the Marianas'. Images and lines of Lilith stay with you and ruminate in your mind, such as individuals lying down on the cold slabs of Mr. Raven's house, the delightful children feeding the gentle giant, or the phrase, "When a man will not act where he is, he must go far to find his work."
A couple further capiats: MacDonald's belief in universal salvation is clearly demonstrated, and his argument that the only way Good can truly be greater than Evil is if all Evil will one day succumb to Good by becoming Good has a certain, if incomplete persuasion. It was also surprising to see MacDonald making use of ancient Gnostic/Jewish heresies such as Lilith, the first wife of Adam.
I highly recommend the book however for it's depth of imagery, for the ideas that can extend into one's mind and bring forth something new, as we give up the old ones. MacDonald's layers and repetitions hearken to something Biblical, or Joycian. In death there is life.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The real _masterpieces_ of fantasy, as opposed to the "entertaining reads," are not numerous. This is one of the masterpieces. It is not a perfect book, but it belongs in the company of the greatest, such as
The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion (Tolkien); Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength, and Till We Have Faces (Lewis); The Man Who Was Thursday (Chesterton); A Wizard of Earthsea (Le Guin); The Owl Service (Garner); Titus Groan and Gormenghast (Peake)... books of that caliber.
Don't miss MacDonald's magnificent tales such as "The Day Boy and the Night Girl" and "The Golden Key."
Read MacDonald's Lilith. If you are so moved, read it in conjunction with the detailed, free study guide available at the MacDonald "Golden Key" website:
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