Having long been a devoted obsessive to children's literature, and having a particular fondness for its origins in post-Romantic era England, I have to say it's a little embarrassing to have not read George MacDonald before now. Across the waste of waters, against the bosom of a fierce black cloud, stood the foot of a rainbow, glowing in the dark. I first encountered it at age 9 in a collection of four fairy tales by MacDonald, all strange and wonderful, allegorical and mysterious, mythical and beautiful. "I don't want to leave you, please, grandmother. "What is it the key of? The story unfolds in a mysterious, surreal, dream-like flow. The symbolism hides under the key of extensive study. And I have lived a good while, I believe," said Mossy, sadly. He then spoke something Tangle could not understand. He drew nearer to the rainbow. 1. Maurice Sendak (1928-2012) was the author and illustrator of such classic children's books as Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen . No sooner was she undressed and lying in the bath, than she began to feel as if the water were sinking into her, and she was receiving all the good of sleep without undergoing its forgetfulness. Suddenly she remembered that the beautiful lady had told them, if they lost each other in a country of which she could not remember the name, they were not to be afraid, but to go straight on. So she was neglected and left untidy, and was sometimes ill-used besides. BLOG: Good Words for the Young: A Child's Devotional 40 Dawns & 40 Dusks Wingfold The Works Online Bookstore Regular Features. A little stream spouted from a rent in the rock and fell into a basin of moss. George MacDonald: An Illustrated Anthology BLOG: New Scots-English Edition of Robert Falconer! It vanished. He is the oldest man of all. On a stone in the middle of it sat a figure with its back towards her--the figure of an old man bent double with age. This book was interesting and sweet at moments, but so strange. She felt scorched to the bone, but it did not touch her strength. So the fairies saw they had made a mistake, and sent the chairs back to their places. By. Then the water could carry her no farther. A deep water rolled between it and the shore, upon which a majestic figure was walking alone. One evening, in summer, he went into his own room and stood at the lattice-window, and gazed into the forest which fringed the outskirts of Fairyland. The water ceased altogether. All at once he vanished, and Tangle heard a low, sweet sound, quite different from the rush and crackle of his wings. $40.62. She carried her back to the fire, and, having dried her well, opened a chest, and taking out the finest linen garments, smelling of grass and lavender, put them upon her, and over all a green dress, just like her own, shining like hers, and soft like hers, and going into just such lovely folds from the waist, where it was tied with a brown cord, to her bare feet. I understood what many of the allusions were in this story, but can someone tell me what the hell this book is all about? Yet here she was in the simplest, poorest little cottage, where she was evidently at home. At length the trees grew smaller, and stood farther apart, and the ground began to rise, and it got more and more steep, till the trees were all left behind, and the two were climbing a narrow path with rocks on each side. I am very, very old. And she smiled like the sun through a summer shower. Re-read (don't know how many times I've read this, but it's been some years since my last experience). "But now," she went on, "I must get you washed and dressed, and then we shall have some supper.". Mossy could not bear this, and rose at once. If I did, it was when I was a child. Come.". For the heart of the child was too deep for any smile to reach from it to his face. But, to her surprise, she could find no door--nothing but the moss grown wall of the cottage. Have you got the key still?". He did not move as she entered, so she passed round that she might stand before him and speak to him. I know "The Golden Key" is supposed to be McDonald's best (or nearly his best) "children's" book, but I just don't know. 3 stars for allegorical obviousness, bumped up for the fascinating images (especially the land full of shadows cast by multiple dimensions of unseen objects) and sometimes lovely writing. Elements of paganism and Christianity evidenced in my interpretation, as Earth, Water and Fire personified in characters the children sought after. He took his key. And I know the way you have to go.". Cart "He will lead you the right way.". Three exciting rediscoveries for me have been Ruth Krauss, Randall Jarrell and of course the chimerical George Macdonald. I realize people often find great meaning and hidden symbols in these adventures, but I find them tedious. It fitted. This page was last edited on 14 February 2018, at 16:05. But they knew that she had been reading the story of Silverhair all day. But the rainbow only glowed the brighter. Will you tell me what to do? They soon learned enough of their language to ask them necessary questions. Mossy followed. It was the end of a rainbow, large and brilliant. Hardcover. She stood and watched him. $13.78. At length the light began to return, and at last they came out upon a narrow path on the face of a lofty precipice. When she came to herself, she found herself gliding down fast and deep. Indeed, they are quite spiteful to slovenly people. Don't you see how beautiful I am!". It came close up to his great-aunt's garden, and, indeed, sent some straggling trees into it. It feels foundational, this story, one that surely has to have influenced other fairy tale writers, or maybe the author has just tapped something that feels ancient about story building. She plunged her face into it and drank. https://en.wikisource.org/w/index.php?title=The_Golden_Key_(MacDonald)&oldid=7250618, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Listen to this text, read by Peter Eastman (. shipping: + $20.31 shipping . They bordered a little hole in the rock. Even the fishes, you see, have to go into the pot, and then out into the dark. She went down the winding-stair, till she began to fear there was no end to it. It was followed by a youth who had outgrown his worn garments. He had not gone far before the sun set. "My grandmother is beautiful.". said the Old Man, as if he really meant to ask the question; and Mossy, who was still lying in the bath, watched his feet for a moment before he replied. It was a rough path, not very plain, yet certainly a path.--He examined the face of the rock. George MacDonald's "The Golden Key" is really only a short story (or maybe a short novelette), but is packed with wonder and awe. But I don't know why I keep it. "They were only talking about you," he said. The night is stormy: come to my house and tell me what I can do for you.". The bushes made way for him. Neither could Tangle find the opening in the floor by which the serpent had led her thither. It turned in the lock to the sounds of Aeolian music. It led him into a hall fit for such an approach--irregular and rude in formation, but floor, sides, pillars, and vaulted roof, all one mass of shining stones of every colour that light can show. ", "Perhaps it is. ", "I will show you the way to his place. Thus, the five elements of paganism and magic surface: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Spirit (thank you Dan Brown for revealing that to me in one of your extraordinary works). Returning to the opening that led into the other part of the house, she started back with amazement, for through it she saw the form of a grand man, with a majestic and beautiful face, waiting for her. "We must find the country from which the shadows come," said Mossy. ", "Perhaps," suggested Tangle, feeling ashamed, but not too much so to say a word for herself,--"perhaps that is because the tree made me cry so. Flashes of meaning would now pass from them to Tangle, and now again all would be not merely obscure, but utterly dark. After a while, however, the cave began to glimmer again. She turned towards the gloomy region she had left, and called once more upon Mossy. They journey through Fairyland in search of the lock worked by a mysterious golden key … There was a bright fire in the middle of the floor, upon which stood a pot without a lid, full of water that boiled and bubbled furiously. Through this archway Tangle fell exhausted into a cool mossy cave. Unlocking Wonder in "The Golden Key" view gallery of Ruth Sanderson's illustrations for "The Golden Key" George MacDonald was a Scottish clergyman living in the Victorian era who stepped down as a minister to communicate his personal vision through the medium of fantastic fiction—novels for adults and children, and shorter fiction in the form of literary fairy tales. And the lady sat down with her again, and combed her hair, and brushed it, and then left it to dry while she got the supper. "And I can do some thing for you, can I not?". The symbolism hides under the key of extensive study. But I work all day long--that is my pleasure; and you will have to leave me so soon!". The door by which Mossy entered had closed again, and there was half a mile of rock between them and the sea. Those opposite to them were a great way off, and towered to an awful height, shooting up sharp, blue, ice-enamelled pinnacles. Donal Grant. 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