At the beginning of Anodos' journey, the reader learns a little about Anodos' life — the fact that he has just turned twenty-one, he is an orphan with siblings, and that he owns property. However, MacDonald does not give the reader information on Anodos' experiences prior to his journey. As a result, Anodos' actions and reactions throughout his travels in Fairy Land are guided not by experience and prior knowledge that is specific to Anodos, but rather by the instincts and passions inherent in man's most natural and impulsive state. By portraying his main character in general terms, MacDonald allows the life of Anodos to envelop every man.

Or if the book was one of travels, I found myself the traveller. New lands, fresh experiences, novel customs, rose around me. I walked, I discovered, I fought, I suffered, I rejoiced in my success. Was it a history? I was the chief actor therein. I suffered my own blame; I was glad in my own praise. With a fiction it was the same. Mine was the whole story. For I took the place of the character who was most like myself, and his story was mine; until, grown weary with the life of years condensed in an hour, or arrived at my deathbed, or the end of the volume, I would awake, with a sudden bewilderment, to the consciousness of my present life, recognising the walls and roof around me, and finding I joyed or sorrowed only in a book. [76]

Could I translate the experience of my travels there, into common life? This was the question. Or must I live it all over again, and learn it all over again, in the other forms that belong to the world of men, whose experience yet runs parallel to that of Fairy Land? These questions I cannot answer yet. But I fear. [184]


1. How does MacDonald parallel the reader's experience with Phantastes to Anodos' encounter with the books in the Faerie library? As Anodos "took the place of the character who was most like myself, and his story was mine," does the reader take the place of Anodos? In the passage from 184, each time the word "I" appears in the last passage, is it possible that MacDonald wishes the reader to interpret this "I" not as Anodos, but as his or herself?

2. Does MacDonald wish his reader to "awake" from Phantastes in the same fashion that Anodos awakes from his volumes — to realize that he or she "joyed or sorrowed only in a book"?

3. In the passage from page 184, MacDonald presents the idea of applying Anodos' adventures to "common life" in questions. How does this technique strengthen the presentation of this concept? MacDonald chooses not to answer the questions — is this task intentionally left to the reader's imagination?

4. Why would MacDonald include the sentence "But I fear"? What does Anodos fear?

5. The name Anodos means "a way up, ascent, the going up, uprising" as opposed to its anotonym, Kathodos, meaning "the way down" ( MacDonald obviously chose this name for his main character with great care, but considering the position MacDonald places the reader in through these passages, does it hold symbolic meaning for the reader?


MacDonald, George. Phantastes. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2000.

Last modified 7 February 2004