George MacDonald's fairy tales in the Scottish Romantic tradition
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George MacDonald (1824-1905) is one of the most complex and significant Scottish writers of the nineteenth century, especially as a writer of children’s fiction and literary fairy tales. His works, however, have seldom been studied as Scottish literature. This dissertation is the first full-length analysis of his writings for children in their Scottish context, focusing particularly on his use of Scottish folklore in his literary fairy tales. MacDonald wrote in the Scottish Romantic tradition of Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and James Hogg; by close reading his works alongside similar texts by his compatriots, such as Andrew Lang, MacDonald’s own idiosyncratic contribution to that tradition becomes more apparent. His profound knowledge of and appreciation for Christian mysticism is in evidence throughout his work; his use of folklore was directly informed by his exploration of mystical ideas. Hogg is recast as a second Dante, and ‘bogey tales’ become catalysts for spiritual awakening. MacDonald’s fairy tales deal sensitively and profoundly with the theme of child death, a tragedy that held personal significance for him, and can thus be read as his attempt to come to terms with the reality of bereavement by using Scottish folklore to explain it in mystical terms. Traditional figures such as Thomas Rhymer, visionary poets, and doubles appear in his fairy tales as guides and pilgrims out of the material world toward mystical union with the Divine.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2020-08-08
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 8th August 2020
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