le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Princess & Curdie

Just finished The Princess & Curdie. I'd read The Princess and the Goblins years ago, and several times since then, but never managed the sequel.

And my stars, was it ever WEIRD!

I don't think it'll be on my Weirdness Syllabus (Macdonald will be represented somehow, probably with At the Back of the North Wind), but what a strange and disturbing book.

It's all about Curdie, of course, and has the feel of allegory, but its peopled with such oddness - the pack of bizarre, deformed hybrid creatures, for instance. The detail of the punishments meted to the treasonous court. The battle scene.

Most weird - and unsettling - is the conclusion. Curdie and Irene married, then dead and gone -- and the kingdom destroyed by greed.

truly strange. i don't know what to make of the hybrid monsters. i REALLY don't know what to make of Curdie's gift of the "testing hands" - his ability to take the hand of a person, and feel that person's true nature (either true human, or some sort of animal - snake, vulture, ox, mule).

what a weird book. i'm sure there's more brilliance in it than i've yet figured out, but it's just so odd i don't quite know what to do with it.


Monica Edinger said...


This is why adult reading is so different from child reading. I'm currently teaching an online grad course on fairy tales and we are discussion Donkeyskin (the incest Cinderella). In particular, we are considering whether we should or want to introduce incest to kids. At some ages, we are thinking, it just doesn't register.

Anyway, I read both books as a kid and adored them, especially The Princess and the Goblins. I reread them a couple of years ago for a speech and don't remember it being as weird as still liking the figurative stuff a lot. Some of MacDonald's stuff is a bit much. I can't take The Golden Key, for, at all. The one I like best is still The Light Princess. (It is,to be honest, the only one I'd give or use with kids today.)

Have you read his intro to A Dish of Orts, The Fantastic Imagination? Really holds up well, I think.

Marius said...

I've never read The Princess & Curdie, but it sounds like my kind of book. I love WEIRD!

By the way, you've been tagged. See my blog for details.