George MacDonald: Literary Alchemist?

Sorry to have been out of touch for so long! Here’s a challenging thought to jump start the All-Pro discussion here at Hogwarts Professor: could George MacDonald, C. S. Lewis’ supposed “master,” have written At the Back of the North Wind, as a work of literary alchemy?

Catherine Persyn at Mythlore thinks so. In her 2006 article, “In my end is my beginning:” The Finnegans Motif in George MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind, she argues in the language and relatively impenetrable fashion of Jungian psychological alchemy that this novel is an alchemical work.

I am not familiar enough with this story to make a judgment either way, if I can say I am sure the article would have been written differently if she had been given carte blance to write at length and she were not writing for a MacDonald journal. As it is, the writing feels compressed and directed exclusively to those who know North Wind very well indeed.

Your comments and correction are welcome, as always.


  1. I’ll have to check it out, as North Wind was something of a disappointment for me, and I’d love to find the key that changes my perception of it. I loved the Princess books, but Diamond, the protagonist of North Wind, left me cold, too perfect to be a real child, too maudlin to be a compelling allegorical figure, certainly no match for Lewis’s or Rowling’s kids. Though some of the images of the story are truly haunting, it just seemed to reflect the excesses of Victorian sentimentality, despite my earnest attempts to love it. I’m looking forward to seeing it in a different light!

  2. Arabella Figg says

    I know next to nothing about MacDonald, although I did read the two Princess/Curdie books and a few fairy tales a long time ago. I’m afraid I have nothing to offer on this subject. Hope you get some good feedback!

  3. Absolutely! For more, and more explicit literary alchemy, read his novel St. George and St. Micheal!

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