Our new edition of Robert Falconer will feature English translations of all Scots dialogue, side-by-side with the original Scots, and twenty original illustrations by Leighton Isaacs.
Excerpt from the Translator's Preface, by David Jack
Before offering any remarks about the specific task of translating Robert Falconer, or indeed about the reasons for undertaking such a task, I cannot forego the opportunity of commenting upon the merits of the book itself, and the special place it has in my own affections. About a decade has passed since I bought a copy of the novel in Aberdeen, the city where George MacDonald studied for his first degree, and in which certain key portions of the story are set. It was my first taste of MacDonald, beyond the frequent quotations offered in the works of C.S. Lewis, who famously called the Huntly author his ‘master.’ Much like Lewis’ own initial experience of reading MacDonald, I felt that in embarking upon this fictional journey with Robert, the story’s hero, I was crossing ‘a great frontier,’ though I did not have to journey into fairy-land, nor even to leave Scotland to do so.
Ever since that first reading, I have always considered Robert Falconer to be as much a ‘double story’ as MacDonald’s classic fairy tale The Wise Woman. It revolves around a twin-search by the hero: one after the prodigal earthly father whom he barely remembers, the other in pursuit of a Heavenly Father through the densest of theological fogs engendered by the well-meaning religious instruction of his Calvinist grannie. All this, of course, is to anticipate, and I will add nothing more except to say that the odyssey left me spellbound, and that here I found the essence of MacDonald’s spiritual vision encapsulated in a soaring work of fiction (soaring like the notes of Robert’s cherished violin): namely that ‘Fatherhood is at the great world’s core.’
The translation itself has been a labour of love, not least because of the strong personal connection I feel to the story. If, as I hope, Falconer becomes the first of many MacDonald novels I have the privilege of translating, then for me there is no better starting place.