I’m no stranger to George MacDonald. In fact, I would say I often feel like his welcome companion when I’m immersed in his fiction. A Quiet Neighborhood, Castle Warlock, or Sir Gibbie are places I’ve been to, and people I’ve visited in my imagination. But MacDonald also wrote a number of essays commenting on the fairy tale genre and his own writing.
In “The Fantastic Imagination,” MacDonald clarifies that fairy tales really have nothing to do with fairies, or at least they don’t have to. They do, however, have a “natural law” unto themselves as MacDonald writes. Our imagination won’t work without it.
This is what he means. When we create from our imaginations and write a story, we naturally follow a pattern of harmony. MacDonald explains it this way: If you were to give a bizarre accent to “the gracious creatures of some childlike region of Fairyland,” then wouldn’t the tale sink then and there? The pieces of the tale must harmonize and not stick out...