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« This Week's Acquisitions | Main | Friday Cat Blogging »

February 03, 2016


Allen Hazen

Re: "Unaltered editions of George MacDonald's religious fiction. "
Is that the George MacDonald that C.S. Lewis so much admired? The one the un-named protagonist of CSL's "The Great Divorce" meets in heaven? The one CSL gave the only great laugh line of the book to (MacDonald tells the protagonist he shouldn't do something, the protagonist replies "God forbid!", and MacDonald says "He does.")? … Given the immense popularity of CSL among (a certain class of) Christians, I would assume there is a slop-over interest in MacDonald that would keep some of his works in print! Could you say a bit - a paragraph, a hint - about the KIND of reworking his works are subjected to "for contemporary religious tastes"? (Was he perhaps a bit more thoughtful, a bit less "fundo", than a lot of current CSL fans? Was his Christianity too … liberal?)


If your publisher of Robert Elsmere will take it on, and you can fit it in down the track, why not edit Helbeck yourself?

Mr Punch

Quite remarkable, actually. Most of "your" authors are irredeemably minor, but Thackeray, Bulwer-Lytton, and Mrs. Ward are in another category (or perhaps two other categories). Given the sheer number of books in print .... I wonder if OUP would be willing to explain dropping Henry Esmond.

Aron Wall

I know that there are modern editions of MacDonald which modernize the language, but do they also change the theology? Seems pretty unforgivable...


I think it's more modernizing + abridging that's the issue (i.e., anything odd that happens to the theology is a byproduct of cutting the books down, not necessarily the direct intent).

Allen Hazen

LP-- Thanks for response to my question! So, the "contemporary religious tastes" in deference to which MacDonald's work gets modified is not so much a matter of doctrine as a general modern distaste for lengthy theologizing? … It's not the same at all, but I am reminded of a line in Michael Shaara's preface to his novel about the Battle of Gettysburg, "The Killier Angels"-- he says that, though he has tried to make the action consistent with what is known historically, the dialogue he has written is in one respect unrealistic: modern readers couldn't take the explicit religiosity of much ordinary speech in the 1860s.

Allen Hazen

Actual quote from Shaara, "The Killer Angels" (copyright 1974). Its from the "To the Reader", page xiii of the paperback ed'n I have.

"I have not consciously changed any fact. … I have changed some of the language. It was a naive and sentimental time, and men spoke in windy phrases. I thought it necessary to update some of the words so that the religiosity and naiveté of the time, which were genuine, would not seem too quaint to the modern ear."

Donald A. Coffin

I am pleased to let you know that The Last Days of Pompeii is apparently back in print:

Donald A. Coffin

The Daisy Chain is also apparently now in prin:

Donald A. Coffin

What *claims* to be an unabridges version of The Swiss Family Robinson is also in print:


These are all unedited scraped/OCR'd texts turned into print-on-demand hardcopy (a peculiarly parasitic form of publishing, not quite as bad as hardcopy versions of Wikipedia articles). The British Library's facsimile prints of its own digitized texts are usually OK, albeit lightly inked, but the scraped editions usually aren't worth it unless there's no front-facing digital text anywhere (and even then, the results can be...scary).

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