As for George MacDonald, I think Chesterton’s essay says the most. I finished Donal Grant, which has a sad, vague ending. Sweet, sad ending, but a bit vague on resolution. It is rich in that mood, that light of Christian practice, but MacDonald needs more stalwart villains, and he cannot have them on his own terms. It is striking how much justice we want in our conclusions–at least me. Justice must be satisfied. Satisfaction has to do with justice; it must.
I had a tremendous literary experience with Storm of Steel. For all that the writer is a bit artless, his verbs are not always dead on, still he’s good enough and builds up to the climactic victory in which he reveals several things about war. You know how you are always reading in the Bible about these battles with such disproportionate losses? The victors lose a few but the vanquished loose a whole lot more. Junger suggests how it works by describing the elation of those who are prevailing, and how it saps and discourages the defeated. What he did for me was open up an understanding of how these emotions flow like tides through armies during the conflict. What else he says, and what makes his book great and leads to the conclusion, is the understated but undeniably present assertion that however terrible and devastating the calamities of war may be, victory is glorious and honor a reality whose light shines even in those awful desolations. I am not sure what the relationship of victory to glory really is. Perhaps one could say war is glorious, or can be glorious and so can victory, and as we know from Beowulf, so can defeat.
I’ve gotten a good way into Alan Jacobs (The Narnian) and I find he’s thought and mulled over things Lewis said in curious and out of the way places. I think he’s done that much more thinking than McGrath. I think his book is superior, and I’m enjoying it. Jacobs seems also to have read a lot of the parallel literature, to be more immersed in the sort of complimentary things such a biography requires. His stew has simmered longer over the flame of thought. I wish in the early chapters he had not five times said we will hear more of this or that later. Just hint at it without being so heavy handed. There is a bit of a clumsy hearty explaininess, but it is overcome by his saturation with and insight. You know what most surprises me? Lewis lost and then regained all his romanticism, and nobody really goes into that too much at all. It was a deep an important experience, it seems to me, and key. But they’d rather speculate around on things about which there really is nothing to go on. They’d rather talk about his conversion, but not that thing which made his Christianity so interesting. Still, Jacobs is pleasing. I’m pleased so far.