George MacDonald citations

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George MacDonald

Date de naissance: 10. décembre 1824
Date de décès: 18. septembre 1905

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George MacDonald est un écrivain et pasteur calviniste britannique né le 10 décembre 1824 à Huntly et mort le 18 septembre 1905 à Ashtead. Son œuvre littéraire, aujourd’hui peu connue en France, a suscité l’admiration, entre autres de W. H. Auden, G. K. Chesterton, et J. R. R. Tolkien. C. S. Lewis le considérait comme son « maître ».

Citations George MacDonald

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„Were I asked, what is a fairytale? I should reply, Read Undine: that is a fairytale“

— George MacDonald
Context: Were I asked, what is a fairytale? I should reply, Read Undine: that is a fairytale; then read this and that as well, and you will see what is a fairytale. Were I further begged to describe the fairytale, or define what it is, I would make answer, that I should as soon think of describing the abstract human face, or stating what must go to constitute a human being. A fairytale is just a fairytale, as a face is just a face; and of all fairytales I know, I think Undine the most beautiful.

„We spoil countless precious things by intellectual greed. He who will be a man, and will not be a child, must — he cannot help himself — become a little man, that is, a dwarf. He will, however, need no consolation, for he is sure to think himself a very large creature indeed.“

— George MacDonald
Context: If there be music in my reader, I would gladly wake it. Let fairytale of mine go for a firefly that now flashes, now is dark, but may flash again. Caught in a hand which does not love its kind, it will turn to an insignificant, ugly thing, that can neither flash nor fly. The best way with music, I imagine, is not to bring the forces of our intellect to bear upon it, but to be still and let it work on that part of us for whose it exists. We spoil countless precious things by intellectual greed. He who will be a man, and will not be a child, must — he cannot help himself — become a little man, that is, a dwarf. He will, however, need no consolation, for he is sure to think himself a very large creature indeed. If any strain of my "broken music" make a child's eyes flash, or his mother's grow for a moment dim, my labour will not have been in vain.

„Some thinkers would feel sorely hampered if at liberty to use no forms but such as existed in nature, or to invent nothing save in accordance with the laws of the world of the senses; but it must not therefore be imagined that they desire escape from the region of law.“

— George MacDonald
Context: Some thinkers would feel sorely hampered if at liberty to use no forms but such as existed in nature, or to invent nothing save in accordance with the laws of the world of the senses; but it must not therefore be imagined that they desire escape from the region of law. Nothing lawless can show the least reason why it should exist, or could at best have more than an appearance of life.

„Alas! how easily things go wrong!“

— George MacDonald
Context: Alas! how easily things go wrong! A sigh too deep or a kiss too long, And then comes a mist and a weeping rain, And life is never the same again.

„A fairytale, like a butterfly or a bee, helps itself on all sides, sips at every wholesome flower, and spoils not one.“

— George MacDonald
Context: A fairytale, like a butterfly or a bee, helps itself on all sides, sips at every wholesome flower, and spoils not one. The true fairytale is, to my mind, very like the sonata. We all know that a sonata means something; and where there is the faculty of talking with suitable vagueness, and choosing metaphor sufficiently loose, mind may approach mind, in the interpretation of a sonata, with the result of a more or less contenting consciousness of sympathy. But if two or three men sat down to write each what the sonata meant to him, what approximation to definite idea would be the result? Little enough — and that little more than needful. We should find it had roused related, if not identical, feelings, but probably not one common thought. Has the sonata therefore failed? Had it undertaken to convey, or ought it to be expected to impart anything defined, anything notionally recognizable? "But words are not music; words at least are meant and fitted to carry a precise meaning!" It is very seldom indeed that they carry the exact meaning of any user of them! And if they can be so used as to convey definite meaning, it does not follow that they ought never to carry anything else. Words are like things that may be variously employed to various ends. They can convey a scientific fact, or throw a shadow of her child's dream on the heart of a mother. They are things to put together like the pieces of a dissected map, or to arrange like the notes on a stave.

„If there be music in my reader, I would gladly wake it.“

— George MacDonald
Context: If there be music in my reader, I would gladly wake it. Let fairytale of mine go for a firefly that now flashes, now is dark, but may flash again. Caught in a hand which does not love its kind, it will turn to an insignificant, ugly thing, that can neither flash nor fly. The best way with music, I imagine, is not to bring the forces of our intellect to bear upon it, but to be still and let it work on that part of us for whose it exists. We spoil countless precious things by intellectual greed. He who will be a man, and will not be a child, must — he cannot help himself — become a little man, that is, a dwarf. He will, however, need no consolation, for he is sure to think himself a very large creature indeed. If any strain of my "broken music" make a child's eyes flash, or his mother's grow for a moment dim, my labour will not have been in vain.

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„God Himself — His thoughts, His will, His love, His judgments are men's home. To think His thoughts, to choose His will, to judge His judgments, and thus to know that He is in us, with us, is to be at home.“

— George MacDonald
Context: God Himself — His thoughts, His will, His love, His judgments are men's home. To think His thoughts, to choose His will, to judge His judgments, and thus to know that He is in us, with us, is to be at home. And to pass through the valley of the shadow of death is the way home, but only thus, that as all changes have hitherto lead us nearer to this home, the knowledge of God, so this greatest of all outward changes — for it is but an outward change — will surely usher us into a region where there will be fresh possibilities of drawing nigh in heart, soul, and mind to the Father of us all. p. 257

„I think the reason children get tired of their toys so soon is just that it is against human nature to be really interested in what is of no use.“

— George MacDonald
Context: !-- After a few days, Willie got tired of [the water-wheel] — and no blame to him, for it was no earthly use beyond amusement, and that which can only amuse can never amuse long. --> I think the reason children get tired of their toys so soon is just that it is against human nature to be really interested in what is of no use. If you say that a beautiful thing is always interesting, I answer, that a beautiful thing is of the highest use. Is not the diamond that flashes all its colours into the heart of a poet as useful as the diamond with which the glazier divides the sheets of glass into panes for our windows? The History of Gutta Percha Willie, the Working Genius (1873)

„I say again, if I cannot draw a horse, I will not write THIS IS A HORSE under what I foolishly meant for one.“

— George MacDonald
Context: "But surely you would explain your idea to one who asked you?" I say again, if I cannot draw a horse, I will not write THIS IS A HORSE under what I foolishly meant for one. Any key to a work of imagination would be nearly, if not quite, as absurd. The tale is there, not to hide, but to show: if it show nothing at your window, do not open your door to it; leave it out in the cold. To ask me to explain, is to say, "Roses! Boil them, or we won't have them!" My tales may not be roses, but I will not boil them. So long as I think my dog can bark, I will not sit up to bark for him.

„Trust to God to weave your little thread into the great web, though the pattern shows it not yet.“

— George MacDonald
Context: I record the conviction that in one way or another, special individual help is given to every creature to endure to the end. It has been my own experience, that always when suffering, whether mental or bodily, approached the point where further endurance appeared impossible, the pulse of it began to ebb and a lull ensued. You are tender-hearted, and you want to be true, and are trying to be; learn these two things: Never be discouraged because good things get on so slowly here; and never fail daily to do that good which lies next to your hand. Do not be in a hurry, but be diligent. Enter into the sublime patience of the Lord. Trust to God to weave your little thread into the great web, though the pattern shows it not yet. When God's people are able and willing thus to labor and wait, remember that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day; the grand harvest of the ages shall come to its reaping, and the day shall broaden itself to a thousand years, and the thousand years shall show themselves as a perfect and finished day. As quoted in The Way To Win : Showing How To Succeed In Life (1887) by John Thomas Dale, p. 89

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„I firmly believe people have hitherto been a great deal too much taken up about doctrine and far too little about practice. The word doctrine, as used in the Bible, means teaching of duty, not theory.“

— George MacDonald
Context: I firmly believe people have hitherto been a great deal too much taken up about doctrine and far too little about practice. The word doctrine, as used in the Bible, means teaching of duty, not theory. I preached a sermon about this. We are far too anxious to be definite and to have finished, well-polished, sharp-edged systems — forgetting that the more perfect a theory about the infinite, the surer it is to be wrong, the more impossible it is to be right. From a letter to his father, quoted in George MacDonald and His Wife (1924) by Greville MacDonald

„God hides nothing. His very work from the beginning is revelation, — a casting aside of veil after veil, a showing unto men of truth after truth.“

— George MacDonald
Context: God hides nothing. His very work from the beginning is revelation, — a casting aside of veil after veil, a showing unto men of truth after truth. On and on, from fact to fact divine he advances, until at length in his Son Jesus he unveils his very face. Then begins a fresh unveiling, for the very work of the Father is the work the Son himself has to do, — to reveal. His life was the unveiling of himself, and the unveiling of the Son is still going on, and is that for the sake of which the world exists. When he is unveiled, that is, when we know the Son, we shall know the Father also. The whole of creation, its growth, its history, the gathering total of human existence, is an unveiling of the Father. He is the life, the eternal life, the Only. I see it — ah! believe me — I see it as I cannot say it. From month to month it grows upon me. The lovely home-light, the one essence of peaceful being, is God himself. He loves light and not darkness, therefore shines, therefore reveals. True, there are infinite gulfs in him, into which our small vision cannot pierce, but they are gulfs of light, and the truths there are invisible only through excess of their own clarity. There is a darkness that comes of effulgence, and the most veiling of all veils is the light. That for which the eye exists is light, but through light no human eye can pierce. — I find myself beyond my depth. I am ever beyond my depth, afloat in an infinite sea; but the depth of the sea knows me, for the ocean of my being is God. — What I would say is this, that the light is not blinding because God would hide, but because the truth is too glorious for our vision. The effulgence of himself God veiled that he might unveil it — in his Son. Inter-universal spaces, icons, eternities — what word of vastness you can find or choose — take unfathomable darkness itself, if you will, to express the infinitude of God, that original splendor existing only to the consciousness of God himself — I say he hides it not, but is revealing it ever, for ever, at all cost of labor, yea of pain to himself. His whole creation is a sacrificing of himself to the being and well-being of his little ones, that, being wrought out at last into partakers of his divine nature, that nature may be revealed in them to their divinest bliss. He brings hidden things out of the light of his own being into the light of ours. But see how different we are, — until we learn of him! See the tendency of man to conceal his treasures, to claim even truth as his own by discovery, to hide it and be proud of it, gloating over that which he thinks he has in himself, instead of groaning after the infinite of God! We would be forever heaping together possessions, dragging things into the cave of our finitude, our individual self, not perceiving that the things which pass that dreariest of doors, whatever they may have been, are thenceforth "but straws, small sticks, and dust of the floor." When a man would have a truth in thither as if it were of private interpretation, he drags in only the bag which the truth, remaining outside, has burst and left. Ch. 31 : A Conscience

„Never be discouraged because good things get on so slowly here; and never fail daily to do that good which lies next to your hand.“

— George MacDonald
Context: I record the conviction that in one way or another, special individual help is given to every creature to endure to the end. It has been my own experience, that always when suffering, whether mental or bodily, approached the point where further endurance appeared impossible, the pulse of it began to ebb and a lull ensued. You are tender-hearted, and you want to be true, and are trying to be; learn these two things: Never be discouraged because good things get on so slowly here; and never fail daily to do that good which lies next to your hand. Do not be in a hurry, but be diligent. Enter into the sublime patience of the Lord. Trust to God to weave your little thread into the great web, though the pattern shows it not yet. When God's people are able and willing thus to labor and wait, remember that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day; the grand harvest of the ages shall come to its reaping, and the day shall broaden itself to a thousand years, and the thousand years shall show themselves as a perfect and finished day. As quoted in The Way To Win : Showing How To Succeed In Life (1887) by John Thomas Dale, p. 89

„He brings hidden things out of the light of his own being into the light of ours.“

— George MacDonald
Context: God hides nothing. His very work from the beginning is revelation, — a casting aside of veil after veil, a showing unto men of truth after truth. On and on, from fact to fact divine he advances, until at length in his Son Jesus he unveils his very face. Then begins a fresh unveiling, for the very work of the Father is the work the Son himself has to do, — to reveal. His life was the unveiling of himself, and the unveiling of the Son is still going on, and is that for the sake of which the world exists. When he is unveiled, that is, when we know the Son, we shall know the Father also. The whole of creation, its growth, its history, the gathering total of human existence, is an unveiling of the Father. He is the life, the eternal life, the Only. I see it — ah! believe me — I see it as I cannot say it. From month to month it grows upon me. The lovely home-light, the one essence of peaceful being, is God himself. He loves light and not darkness, therefore shines, therefore reveals. True, there are infinite gulfs in him, into which our small vision cannot pierce, but they are gulfs of light, and the truths there are invisible only through excess of their own clarity. There is a darkness that comes of effulgence, and the most veiling of all veils is the light. That for which the eye exists is light, but through light no human eye can pierce. — I find myself beyond my depth. I am ever beyond my depth, afloat in an infinite sea; but the depth of the sea knows me, for the ocean of my being is God. — What I would say is this, that the light is not blinding because God would hide, but because the truth is too glorious for our vision. The effulgence of himself God veiled that he might unveil it — in his Son. Inter-universal spaces, icons, eternities — what word of vastness you can find or choose — take unfathomable darkness itself, if you will, to express the infinitude of God, that original splendor existing only to the consciousness of God himself — I say he hides it not, but is revealing it ever, for ever, at all cost of labor, yea of pain to himself. His whole creation is a sacrificing of himself to the being and well-being of his little ones, that, being wrought out at last into partakers of his divine nature, that nature may be revealed in them to their divinest bliss. He brings hidden things out of the light of his own being into the light of ours. But see how different we are, — until we learn of him! See the tendency of man to conceal his treasures, to claim even truth as his own by discovery, to hide it and be proud of it, gloating over that which he thinks he has in himself, instead of groaning after the infinite of God! We would be forever heaping together possessions, dragging things into the cave of our finitude, our individual self, not perceiving that the things which pass that dreariest of doors, whatever they may have been, are thenceforth "but straws, small sticks, and dust of the floor." When a man would have a truth in thither as if it were of private interpretation, he drags in only the bag which the truth, remaining outside, has burst and left. Ch. 31 : A Conscience

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