This blog takes its name from a line in George MacDonald’s Phantastes. I was recently reminded of this when WanderingGondola noted that a photo I had posted showed the Three Wise Men in a “narrow desert.” The MacDonald line is part of a couplet that ends a poem: “From the narrow desert, O man of pride, / Come into the house, so high and wide.” The same phrase is used in Matthew 2:11 with reference to the Wise Men:
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
Immediately after the “narrow desert” couplet in Phantastes is this paragraph:
Hardly knowing what I did, I opened the door. Why had I not done so before? I do not know.
Having finished Behind the Green Door by Mildred A. Wirt, I am now working on a novel by Ethel Cook Eliot, chosen for no other reason than it’s title: Green Doors. Look what other book turns up inside Green Doors:
“Lewis!” she said. “Do you remember that strange book, ‘Phantastes,’ by George MacDonald? We read it together the summer after Father died. . . . .”
Lewis (the protagonist, a psychiatrist) does remember and thinks rather highly of it.
Lewis laughed. “I should say I do remember. . . . I’ve read ‘Phantastes’ through several times since that summer. I keep it by me. I can’t imagine—can you?—why Aunt Cynthia chose that particular book for youngsters like us? I suppose because of its fairy element—the enchanted forest, and all. To my mind, it’s one of the world’s deepest, wisest, but almost too obscurely mystical books. . . .”
My thought after this is that the next thing on my reading list should be Whitley Strieber’s short story “The Open Doors,” which I know of but have never read. It’s actually a little hard to track down. Apparently it was anthologized in a 1997 book called Revelations.
Update: Unreal. I find a copy of Revelations so I can read "The Open Doors." The book begins with an epigraph from George MacDonald.