Rooted in all its story, more is meant than meets the ear : a study of the relational and revelational nature of George MacDonald's mythopoeic art
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Scholars and storytellers alike have deemed George MacDonald a great mythopoeic writer, an exemplar of the art. Examination of this accolade by those who first applied it to him proves it profoundly theological: for them a mythopoeic tale was a relational medium through which transformation might occur, transcending boundaries of time and space. The implications challenge much contemporary critical study of MacDonald, for they demand that his literary life and his theological life cannot be divorced if either is to be adequately assessed. Yet they prove consistent with the critical methodology MacDonald himself models and promotes. Utilizing MacDonald’s relational methodology evinces his intentional facilitating of Mythopoesis. It also reveals how oversights have impeded critical readings both of MacDonald’s writing and of his character. It evokes a redressing of MacDonald’s relationship with his Scottish cultural, theological, and familial environment – of how his writing is a response that rises out of these, rather than, as has so often been asserted, a mere reaction against them. Consequently it becomes evident that key relationships, both literary and personal, have been neglected in MacDonald scholarship – relationships that confirm MacDonald’s convictions and inform his writing, and the examination of which restores his identity as a literature scholar. Of particular relational import in this reassessment is A.J. Scott, a Scottish visionary intentionally chosen by MacDonald to mentor him in a holistic Weltanschauung. Little has been written on Scott, yet not only was he MacDonald’s prime influence in adulthood, but he forged the literary vocation that became MacDonald’s own. Previously unexamined personal and textual engagement with John Ruskin enables entirely new readings of standard MacDonald texts, as does the textual engagement with Matthew Arnold and F.D. Maurice. These close readings, informed by the established context, demonstrate MacDonald’s emergence, practice, and intent as a mythopoeic writer.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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