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The Golden Key (A Sunburst Book) [Paperback]

By George MacDonald (Author), Maurice Sendak (Illustrator) & W. H. Auden (Afterword by)
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Item description for The Golden Key (A Sunburst Book) by George MacDonald, Maurice Sendak & W. H. Auden...

The adventurous wanderings of a boy and girl to find the keyhole which fits the rainbow's golden key.

Publishers Description

The adventurous wanderings of a boy and girl to find the keyhole which fits the rainbow's golden key.

Citations And Professional Reviews
The Golden Key (A Sunburst Book) by George MacDonald, Maurice Sendak & W. H. Auden has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Wilson Children's Catalog - 01/01/1994 page 171

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Pages   96
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.3" Width: 4.75" Height: 7.25"
Weight:   0.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 1984
Publisher   Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Age  4-8
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0374425906  
ISBN13  9780374425906  

Availability  7 units.
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More About George MacDonald, Maurice Sendak & W. H. Auden

George MacDonald George Macdonald was born at Huntly, in the western part of Aberdeenshire on 10 December, 1824, the son of George Macdonald, farmer, and Helen MacKay. He was educated in country schools where Gaelic myths and Old Testament stories abounded. He then went on to Aberdeen University in the early 1840's obtaining awards in Moral Philosophy and Sciences. Next he studied for the Congregationalist ministry at Highbury College, London.

In 1850 he was made pastor at Arundel, West Sussex, England. MacDonald resigned however after three years of not living up to the congregational authorities’ expectations for more dogmatic sermons and being accused of heresy. Rejecting his Calvinist upbringing and doctrine of predestination, he came to believe in the divine presence but not divine providence and felt that everyone was capable of redemption.

George MacDonald married Louisa Powell in 1851 and they had six sons and five daughters together. One of their sons, Greville Macdonald would later become a writer himself and author a biography of his father. After a stay in Algiers to gain his health back MacDonald returned to England to tutor and write to provide for his ever-growing family and preach freelance when time permitted. Despite his successful career as a published writer he was continually forced to rely on the charity of his friends. Lady Byron was one such patron who assisted him until her death in 1860 as well as John Ruskin. MacDonald was mentor to C.S. Lewis; formed a strong friendship with Mark Twain after a tumultuous start and G. K. Chesterton, Henry Longfellow, and Walt Whitman were also counted among his friends. Some of his early poetry was Within and Without (1855) and Poems (1857), however his first real successes came with his Scottish country life stories such as David Elginbrod (1862), Alec Forbes (1865) and Robert Falconer (1868).

The 1870s brought an invitation for MacDonald to tour and lecture in America. He was well-received by huge audiences and by writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson. A well-paid ministerial position was offered him but he chose to return to England. In 1877 he was pensioned at the request of Queen Victoria. The ill health that had plagued MacDonald the greater part of his life forced him to seek the warmer climates of Europe. One of his daughters was taken to Italy for a cure in 1877 though she ended up dying. However Macdonald found the climate of such benefit to his own maladies that he spent most of the years from 1881 to 1902 in Bordighera, Italy, "Heaven of the English" in his house "Casa Coraggio." His wife was the organist of the Catholic church there and they often held concerts and amateur plays in their home socializing and having a merry time. Titles published around this time were Sir Gibbie (1879), Donal Grant (1883), and the moral allegories Lilith (1895) and Robert Falconer (1868) show MacDonald's early distaste for the limiting Calvinist God's electing to love some and denying it to others.

Louisa Powell died one year after her and George's golden wedding anniversary, in 1902. George Macdonald, after a long illness, died at Ashstead, Surrey, England on 18 September, 1905. His remains were cremated and they were taken to his beloved Bordighera for interment alongside his wife. A memorial to George MacDonald has been erected in the Drumblade Churchyard, Aberdeenshire.

In his George MacDonald: An Anthology (1947) C. S. Lewis states that while reading a copy of MacDonald's Phantastes (1858) "a few hours later," through inspiration of the gentle Christian's words "I knew I had crossed a great frontier.".... "I know hardly any other writer who seems closer, or more continually close, to the Spirit of Christ himself." W.H. Auden and J. R. R. Tolkien also admired his efforts. Phantastes was to become a definitive work of MacDonald's career. Through his writing, peppered with the Doric Dialect, he asserted that there was a God and art and the expression of creativity of spirit brought one closer to Him. Other successful titles were At the Back of the North Wind (1871), The Princess and the Goblin (published sometime in the 1880s) and it's sequel The Princess and Curdie (1883). The Diary of an Old Soul first published posthumously in 1965 strikes a deeper note of thoughtfulness where MacDonald offers a prayer for each day of the year.

George MacDonald was born in 1824 and died in 1905.

George MacDonald has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Classics for Young Readers
  2. Everyman's Library Children's Classics
  3. Focus on the Family Radio Theatre
  4. Gospel in Great Writers
  5. Penguin Classics
  6. Sunburst Book

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Children > Ages 4-8 > General
2Books > Subjects > Children > Authors & Illustrators, A-Z > ( M ) > MacDonald, George
3Books > Subjects > Children > Authors & Illustrators, A-Z > ( S ) > Sendak, Maurice > General
4Books > Subjects > Children > Authors & Illustrators, A-Z > ( S ) > Sendak, Maurice > Paperback
5Books > Subjects > Children > Literature > Action & Adventure
6Books > Subjects > Children > Ages 4-8
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( M ) > Macdonald, George

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Golden Key (A Sunburst Book)?

The Opening of a New Door in the Development of Literature  Jul 25, 2007
While The Golden Key may not be my all-time favorite book, it certainly has a strong connection to the book that I treasure most of all (well, second to the Bible). You see, George MacDonald, author of The Golden Key, was in fact the mentor of Lewis Carroll, who wrote my favorite non-Biblical book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. That's a very powerful and indeed shocking connection if you ask me. But you can kind of see it if you look closely. I mean, the kids in the Golden Key grow both old and young. Alice in Wonderland grows big and small. Kinda similar there.

Yet, I did not know about the relationship between the two books until AFTER I had finished The Golden Key and decided to do some research on its origin. I simply read The Golden Key like I would any other book, and developed some commentary on the work as a whole that I would now like to communicate:

First, the book is very short. I finished it in two days. And because its so short, events move incredibly fast to make room for heavy amounts of whimsical feeling and fantastical description.

But again I have to go back to the Alice thing. I noticed how SO many sentences in the story turned the reader upside down and made him say, "huh?" It was as if the Fairy World did everything it could to stay all out of whack. Whether it was to make speech that could be heard without ears, or to make the oldest people in the world look like little kids, the topsy-turvy nature of everything couldn't help but instill an amazing sense of awe. Truly, The Golden Key opens eyes to such incredible abstract possibilities of the imagination, and perhaps even life itself.

The out of whack sense of awe, while wonderful in this book, developed into full maturity in the Alice books. While The Golden Key merely mentions things that make no sense, the Alice books actually attempt to explain the senselessness of senseless things.

I hope I will always have a special place in my heart for MacDonald's prototype of Alice in Wonderland. Oh, if we only knew how much the imagination behind The Golden Key has really changed the world. I think we would all be very surprised.
The Golden Key  Jan 11, 2007
I purchased this book as a Christmas gift for my 20-year-old daughter. It was one of her favorite books as a child and she frequently checked it out of our local library until it disappeared from the shelf there, never to be seen again. She was very excited when she saw that she had her own copy and she took the book back to college with her after Christmas break. Although I haven't actually read the book myself, I can tell you that my daughter thinks it is great!
Water  Dec 13, 2005
This book is like a drink of the freshest, clearest water on the brightest, bluest spring day you can imagine. It was lovely every step of the way, somehow beautifully sad and wonderful at the same time. With the aid of the creatures of fairyland, mistreated Tangle and adventuresome Mossy go on an enchanting journey which takes them straight through to a wisdom and sense of wonderment that is somehow greater than that found in adulthood (or childhood). George MacDonald truly had an eye for the worlds of fairy, and an unsurpassed talent for expressing beauty in all things. The stories are not always meant to be understood, but deep in that inner place in one's heart, they make sense.
The talent for loving  Jan 27, 2005
An earlier reviewer mentioned the difficulty of understanding the imagery of the story and another suggested (perhaps rightly) that the golden key represents Christ. C.S. Lewis believed it represented "the talent for loving", and having read the book numerous times, especially to nephews and nieces, I agree. Without giving away too much, notice the differences between Mossy's and Tangle's journey after their separation (physical death), especially how they saw the Old Man of the Sea. One might need to have read more of MacDonald's works (especially Unspoken Sermons) to get at his view of how love affects our ability to "see". His "At the Back of the North Wind" contains another wonderful example when North Wind explains to Diamond why she had to appear as a dreadful wolf to an old woman.
Read this little story...  Jan 20, 2005
the tale of tangle and mossy, two child like creatures on the adventure of the ages. alone - together - parting - re-uniting, until which is which becomes forgotten and un-threatening, and best; so unimportant. Simply, this is The Best Fairey Tale I have ever read.
It is a classic.
If you know anyone with fantasy and imagination, regardless of age, this whould be a most welcome gift....

Addendum: To - "A Reader"
It is difficult to respond to a question after the questioner has left the room. Who is Dr. Peter Kreeft and what makes his opinion so important to you? It is sad that such a beautiful and wonderful story is so assaulted by a need to find the incarnation of GOD himself within it. Not that he/she is not; but please, isn't that the "Bible's" role? I think you last three comments point to your problem; that is, you really want someone "to tell you" what this book really means. Suggestion: Perhaps if you read the story to a child or a very old person over the course of three or four day, you might find it much more appealing.....
best regards.

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