Lewis describes the impact that MacDonald's book Phantastes had on him in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy. Lewis acknowledged his debt in MacDonald in many ways. For example he edited an anthology of quotations from MacDonald. (George MacDonald An Anthology)
The C.S. Lewis Society of Harrisonburg meets the second Thursday of each month at the Harrisonburg Barnes and Noble at 7:30 p.m. The meetings run no longer than an hour and a half.
Our discussion leader for the July meeting will be Elizabeth. Some people coming to the meeting have a light dinner or a snack at Panera's a bit after six on the evening of the meetings. If you wish to get emails reminding you of the meetings and sending around the discussion questions ahead of time then just send an email to email@example.com.
Discussion Questions Below:
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald
In Greek mythology, the Hyperboreans were a mythical people who lived far to the north of Thrace. The Greeks thought that Boreas, the North Wind, lived in Thrace; therefore, Hyperborea was “back of the north wind” It was considered a perfect land with the sun shinning twenty-four hours a day. Herodotus is the earliest source that mentions Hyperborea in detail. Other works also refer to Hyperborea. Hyperborea was identified with Britain as early as the 4th century B.C. Both Greeks and Romans claimed Hyperborea was a land of complete happiness.
Questions: There are so many dimensions to this book we may want to start with
1. When reading this I kept thinking of the theme “Things are not always what they seem”. What did you consider the theme of this book and why?
2. North Wind says she has many names, (Chapter 36) like Bad Fortune, Evil Chance, or Ruin. What other names do you think would fit her or show her real nature?
3. What do you think is the purpose of the visits of the North Wind in the first part of the book? Why does the North Wind visit very little in the second part of the book?
4. In chapter 36 Diamond Questions North Wind, Diamond asks North Wind an important question: How am I to know that you (and all experiences connected with you) are not a dream? What do you think North Wind is trying to say in her responses?
5. Dreams are very important. What role do they play in the book and in our lives? Do you think that MacDonald is just talking about the dreams we have when we are asleep? What do you think of Nanny’s dream?
6. Trust, truth and honesty are the values “back of the North Wind”. What happens when Diamond lives out these values in the “real” world?
7. What in the book spoke to you?