Reading Group: Phantastes by George MacDonald


About the Book

What happens when a self-assured university student comes home as a “chivalric” English gentleman, ready to assume responsibility for his sisters and the family estate, but somehow wakes up the next morning as a stranger in Fairyland?

Come join us on an adventure in which the young Anodos is forced to reassess his assumptions about both himself and others–and eventually to deconstruct his entire concept of a hero. Within the realm of faerie, he begins to build a completely different way of engaging with the world and to adopt a whole new understanding of honor and even of self.

Reading this short novel radically impacted C. S. Lewis, who said the journey of Anodos showed him holiness and “baptized” his imagination. He returned to it again and again, claiming in later years that Phantastes had shaped his philosophy of life and even his vocational attitude more than any other book.  

About the Group

MacDonald scholar and lecturer Kirstin Jeffery Johnson leads a read-through and discussion of Phantastes, providing context and guidance for navigating an often bewildering but profoundly moving and influential fantasy novel.

The “live” version of this book group (including the online forum) opens May 24 and will include Zoom chats every Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. CST for five weeks. However, you are welcome to join at any time, even after the live chats have ended. The discussions will be archived, and the forum will be open indefinitely for new registrants to continue reading and discussing the book.

Phantastes is available in the Rabbit Room Store. Use the discount code MACDONALD to get 15% off through the end of May.

Course Instructor

Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson Discussion Leader

When Kirstin is not lecturing internationally about MacDonald, the Inklings, Faith & Art, or environmental care, she is based on an old farm in Canada’s Ottawa Valley where she stewards the property, mentors teens and young adults, and occasionally partners with the environmental network A Rocha. Director of Linlathen, a conference and lecture project that explores the interrelation of theology, ecology, and the arts, she is also on various Inklings boards and is co-chairperson of the George MacDonald Society. She loves exploring how stories can transform us – and loves enticing people outside so that they can participate in God’s creation doing the same.

Join the Reading Group