Choosing Our Own Destiny
George MacDonald & C. S. Lewis on Rights, Duties, Heaven
In January of 1939 C. S. Lewis wrote to a friend that he had just finished one of George MacDonald’s later novels, What’s Mine’s Mine, first published in 1886, and called it the fourth greatest book he had ever read. Lewis asserted in several places in his writings that MacDonald was his literary master, and after reading this comment, I was struck with the similarity of the title to what I believed to be the theme of Lewis’s The Great Divorce, written just five years after he read MacDonald’s novel: giving up all of one’s rights and thereby saying to God, “Thy will be done,” as the only way to obtain Heaven.
The word “rights” appears at least twenty-five times in The Great Divorce and at least fifty times in What’s Mine’s Mine. Could there be a link between these two works?
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Charles E. Bressler is a professor of English at Houghton College and has written several books, including Literary Criticism: Introduction to Theory and Practice (Pearson Education) and a forthcoming book entitled Of Welcome and Wonder, on the literary and spiritual influences of George MacDonald and G. K. Chesterton on C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and other Oxford Christians.
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