Once Upon A Spring Break Dreary

This is the view out of our front living room window…

and this is the view out of the back family room’s French doors.

Happy Spring Break! Today is the first day of vacation, and you might be able to tell that people are more than a little annoyed with the weather here in Chicago-land. Personally, I don’t mind. I always like a day which gives me ‘permission’ to read inside; you know, where I don’t have to look at all the exercise freaks running, skating, or biking past our house on the riverwalk and feel there’s something wrong with me for only exercising my hands. As they hold a book.

It’s been a movie o’rama here at Bellezza’s house. We rented Somerset Maugham’s “A Painted Veil” on Saturday night (loved it!), George Clooney’s film “Michael Clayton” on Sunday night (a very engrossing thriller), and just now have returned from AMC 30 where we saw “21”. That’s the film with the Harvard student brainiac who is hired by his Linear Equations teacher (Kevin Spacey) to bamboozle money out of the gambling tables in Vegas. It was excellent! Really! Loved. It.

Anyway, in between times I had a chance to finish George MacDonald’s “The Princess and The Goblin” for the Once Upon A Time II Challenge. This one? Um, not so good.

This particular copy, from our elementary school’s library, was published in 1993 for Everyman’s Library by Alfred A. Knopf. The original publication date was 1871.

It has delightful illustrations, which include everything you’d want a fantasy story to have: a King, a princess, a hero, nurses, mothers and goblins.

It tells of a princess who meets her grandmother in a hidden turret of the castle in which she lives, who gives her an Invisible Thread. The princess is able to follow this thread whenever she gets lost and thus find her way to safety. Except, no one believes in either a.) the grandmother or b.) the thread. However, this effects the princess not one whit, as she continues to be both good and faithful in her daily life. She also enjoys the ministrations of her grandmother who is able to heal and comfort her when she emerges from life’s little scrapes.

Unbeknownst to the princess, goblins who work the mine have developed a scheme to kidnap her in order to marry their Prince Harelip. A fine young man named Curdie hears of this scheme, and rescues our princess from a most unfortunate marriage, as well as her whole family from the goblin’s secondary scheme of destroying the castle.

Ah, here he is now, dissuading the goblins from their attack.
As far as a story goes, it left me nonplussed. “What’s the big deal,” I asked myself, “about George MacDonald? How did he influence the great Tolkein, the great Lewis?”
For that question, I have two answers. First, our hero Curdie was not only adept at brandishing a pickax in self defense, he composed poetry which kept the goblins at bay. This so reminds me of The Fellowship of The Ring, which is filled with wonderful song and verse.
Secondly, his heroes are truly good. W. H. Auden wrote, “To me, George MacDonald’s most extraordinary, and precious, gift is his ability, in all his stories, to create an atmosphere of goodness about which there is nothing phony or moralistic. Nothing is rarer in literature.”
I’m anxious to get to the other work I have of his, “The Back of The North Wind.” Of that, I’ve heard greater things.
But, I will leave with you with a powerful quote I copied down in my journal while reading “The Princess and The Goblin.” May it encourage you as it did me: “It was foolish indeed thus to run farther and farther from all who could help her, as if she had been seeking a fit spot for the goblin creature to eat her in at his leisure; but that is the way fear serves us: it always sides with the thing we are afraid of.” (p. 108)

I love being reminded of the foolishness in feeling afraid.

18 thoughts on “Once Upon A Spring Break Dreary

  1. Joyce, for some reason I'm in a susceptible place for fear right now, which is not at all the norm for me. Normally, I'm very scornful of it. Yet, I find it interesting that when we need it most, the right words are often given to us (most often by those who believe). This quote has really struck a chord within me.


  2. I love the quote. Well, I love most quotes but that one speaks to me as well. Stresses in my life have been weighing me down lately and I think that at the bottom of it all is fear. I'm working on it. Truly. Hope your week is relaxing and joyful. You deserve it!!


  3. I've actually never heard of this one. Not sure how I missed it!As for your Spring Break weather…looks a lot like mine did last week. Enjoy your reading time!


  4. Kay, what's the deal that we're both feeling a bit of fear? Mine lies in anxiety about my son (his choice to hate school and his future therein), but I just don't want to live in a state of anxiety. It helps nothing. I'll be thinking of you as we work on conquering this.Andi, I'm not sure where you live, but Illinois has not been pretty yet!


  5. My fear is connected with my caring for both my parents. It's such a burden sometimes but I'm also so very grateful that I can do this. Just a lot to do. My dad is in Alzheimers care and my mom lives in regular assisted living. Dealing with their finances, their health, their possessions and all the myriad of details has almost put me under this last year. However, I keep staying afloat. The fear is that I am not doing enough. As I said, I'm working on it. I truly am. I know intellectually that I am doing enough. If my heart could just believe it.Nan (Letter from a Hill Farm) says that once I told her to "Let go and let God". I guess I did tell her that many years ago. She has been telling me that recently and she is so right. Thanks for your concern and I'll keep you in my prayers as well. I understand about kids and worries (mine is 25 and married but still…).


  6. Just when I am tempted to think that I have met other bloggers "randomly" I find that we all have so much in common. Bellezza, I too had a son who just hated school. He got himself in a lot of trouble during his teens, but God really got ahold of him when he was about 17. He managed to graduate from high school by the skin of his teeth. Then he chose to go off to be trained by Youth With A Mission, spent three months in India, and met his wonderful wife while he was with them. He has just turned out to be a wonderful person, with a great marriage and a sweet beby girl. But boy, it was a wild ride for a while! Hopefully, yours is not giving you that much difficulty. I tell this story, with my son's permission, because so many parents need glimmer of hope when they are in the middle of it all. Mine did not wind up going to college, but is now an electrician, making a good living at something that he likes to do. What else do we really want for our children, but a happy family and productive work?I'll be thinking of you!


  7. Love that quote, but sorry to hear that it didn't measure up 😦 Those illustrations are awesome though…I love old time fairy tale illustrations. They're my favorites. Arthur Rackham did some incredible ones. I love a good dreary day every now and then. We have a covered patio, so I enjoy sitting under it and reading in the rain. But yeah…it gets old after awhile…especially when it's your spring break!


  8. The quote is truly amazinga nd contains a lot of truth. I am not a big fan of goblins, so I think I will pass this one up as a TBR addition to my list, but either way it sounds like an interesting concept. I am a major fan of mythology and well fairytales as well and novels that go there are always welcomed.


  9. Happy Spring Break!!! I'm thrilled for you, I hope you get lots of rest and relaxation.I love The Everyman's Library editions of books. They are so well crafted and I really enjoy the way that they are designed. The story sounds great.


  10. I loved Michael Clayton and A Painted Veil! I'll have to add 21 to my To-Be-Watched list, as I adore Kevin Spacey. That's a wonderful quote, Bellezza. I'm sorry things are still so worrisome in your home. Like you and Kay, I've been feeling a bit stressed, myself. I've been talking to the D.A.'s assistant and making plans for our trip out to Virginia for the trial. I'm trying not to get too worked up about all the pain we'll have to go through all over again, but it is beginning to weigh heavily on my heart.We've had rain, flurries, thunder, and cold temps again. Let's hope for a warm, beautiful, sunny spring, shall we?Hugs to you.


  11. Les, Kevin Spacey is a guy I love to hate; he is absolutely fantastic in this film!I think stress is unavoidable and anytime we don't have it we should consider ourselves lucky. It's funny how the older we get the more serious life becomes; when I was in my 20's and 30's I felt practically invincible. Now I recognize the weaknesses that I, and everyone else, possess. That's not an incredibly comforting realization! Plus, like you in your situation and me with mine, we have to keep going through it over and over. It can never be fully laid to rest. Anyway, be assured that lots of prayers are going up on your behalf.Nebraska weather sounds like Illinois this week! I haven't even begun to search for my Birkenstocks yet.


  12. It's still far too soon to think about wearing Birks, at least here. We're just barely in the 50s today and it feels cold. Thanks for the prayers. You can pretty much keep 'em coming all month.


  13. I can see why you were compelled to write that quote in your journal. Even though we have faith and trust in our Lord, the evil one grabs a hold through any little crack. I too will have to write this one in my journal and share it as the Lord would lead me to.


  14. Lady G~, did you know that MacDonald is a hugely Christian author, and the impact he had on Lewis and Tolkien? His books are absolutely food for my soul, giving such encouragement to me and support for The Word.


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