- George MacDonald, The Light Princess
It is January once again, and like last January, I am participating in the Classic Children's Literature Event! If you want even more details about the event, just visit Amanda at Simpler Pastimes. :)
On to the book!
This is The Light Princess by George MacDonald, the author of The Princess & the Goblin and The Princess & Curdie along with a myriad other books. He was a Christian minister in addition to being a writer, which is why his work is more than simple fairy stories. If you wanted to read The Light Princess in an equally light vein, then you certainly could. No one will stop you or correct you. But, it is also possible to pick out the intended allegory of the story, and while allegory is not my strongest suit, I shall try my hand at interpreting.
There was once a king who wanted children. He and his queen were barren for many years until good fortune smiled on them and a daughter was born, a sweet and lovely princess. Unfortunately, when the king sent out invitations to the christening, he forgot to invite his sister who was not just a princess, but also a witch. Said sister arrives on the scene anyway and curses the baby princess that she will be lighter than air. Or rather:
In other words, the princess is an airhead without a serious thought, and at the slightest breath of a breeze could inadvertently float out of a window. The king and queen are astounded, and their princess grows into a young woman of the silliest mind in all the land. It is by pure happenstance that the princess discovers her love of water. In water she actually has weight, and she is not quite so silly as she is on dry land, and so she spends her days floating and swimming in the lake outside of her castle, attended by her family and the court."Light of spirit, by my charms,Light of body, every part,Never weary human arms -Only crush thy parents' heart!"
Enters our prince, one fine evening, when he quite literally stumbles upon her. It takes awhile, but love blossoms, except how is it possible for an airborne princess and a grounded prince to wed?
I shall try not to give away too much of the story from here on out. Only know that there must be a resolution to the princess's predicament, especially since she and the prince have found true love. George MacDonald, being the fine author that he is, incorporated allegory into his tale. This princess lacks gravity, both in weight but also in spirit. She takes nothing seriously and cares very little for the people around her. She is very foolish, and until she learns to take herself and others seriously, she will continue to be lighter than air, defying gravity.
The Light Princess is a delightful little tale. I love MacDonald, but this is the first time I've ever read this book. It's a short little fantasy, published in 1864. MacDonald wrote for both children and adults, but this one is obviously a fairy tale for children. It was such fun to read out loud to my sister, just for kicks, and she loved it equally as much as I did.