Literary relations include not only matters of source and influence but also parallel elements or different and even opposing ones. One of the most obvious sources of Phantastes is Shelley's lyric poem, "Alastor," which provides the epigraph that opens chapter 1. Read Shelley's heavily symbolic poem about its protagonist's quest for an ideal and see where you think it parallels and where it departs from MacDonald.

Other sources seem less obvious, such asPhantastes 's debt to Carlyle's idea of the hero and the human need for worship. When in the fantasy does this theme appear most clearly?

Phantastes follows the pattern of the medieval romance, a form that contains in symbolical or ideal form many elements of the later Bildungsroman, In this resemblance it seems to parallel the Alice books. Where do you find similarities and where do you find differences between the experiences of Alice and Anados?

One can also usefully examine the ways in which Phantastes obviously differents in theme and technique from any other text. Ask yourself, for example, how its plot differs from that found in works of fictional realism, such as North and South and The Way We Live Now. Similarly, how do these works use characterization and setting differently? What about the role of imagery?

Phantastes, a rich and allusive work, situates itself within a field of literary relations by means of the epigraphs at the head of each chapter. They show that MacDonald wished to emphasize his work's relations to the English and Germany Romantics (whom Carlyle had introduced to Great Britain) as well as to Renaissance poets. In addition, throughout the text alludes to both fairy-tale lore and to the medieval romance, whose plot and structure of repeated tests Phantastes employs.

In addition, MacDonald's work, like those by Ruskin and he Carroll, creates the genre of Victorian fantasy in implicit opposition to the the dominant mode — realism. Finally, he was the direct inspiration for twentieth-century fantasy writers, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, and more recent writers, such as Michael King, whose Lorien Lost (offsite link), according to the author, "is told in the style and spirit of nienteenth-century fantasist writers such as MacDonald."


Victorian Web Overview George MacDonald Phantastes

Last modified 27 June 2007