Thursday, January 26, 2023

Open the door

I recently posted about the song “Walk the Dinosaur” but failed to note, in connection with the Green Door theme, that the refrain is “Open the door / Get on the floor / Everybody walk the dinosaur.”

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.


WanderingGondola said...

You've quoted that Phantastes paragraph before, with more context -- and there's "revelation" again. The tower made me think of another previous post, which I had to find through the dreams tag; my first attempt, searching for "tower", pulled up a different dream instead. When you'd first posted that, I'd found it amusing in a few ways, most notably that the "not-review" was written in 1930 but referred to a critic from 1964, implying some timey-wimey business; 64 minus 30 didn't escape notice, either. I must have been too preoccupied to comment at the time.

No Longer Reading said...

Open the door, Richard,_Richard!

Loaves of gold

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