George MacDonald, King of Comedy? Perhaps not, but the joy he found in our Lord naturally expressed itself in great good humor, which sometimes spilled over into overt slapstick and wonderful silliness, while at other times was sarcastic or even sardonic. Over the next four months, we are going to feature excerpts and discussion of examples of MacDonald's use of humor in his writing; examples that you, dear readers, will provide. You don't need to retype passages; just let me know the location of the passage you have in mind and we'll take care of reproducing them.
Each person who provides the first example of any given humorous passage will have his or her name entered into Onesimus' Bishop's hat (or the virtual, e-version thereof!), and a winner will be picked by random drawing on April 30th. The prize? $250 worth of vintage editions of GM's works, personally selected by a licensed and certified Raider of the Lost Editions. Multiple entries are allowed, but only one per week per person!
Now, I'm saving all the really good stuff for the rest of you to select. However, I'll merely note a few minor examples from the novel Guild Court (page references are from the Sunrise edition, available from Wise Path Books):
But seriously, folks...
MacDonald features two Jews, the Morgensterns, as important minor characters in the book, who are helping the heroes: "Mr. Sargent...went straight to Mr. Morgenstern's office to communicate his failure and the foiling of the liberality which had made the attempt possible. Mr. Morgenstern only smiled and wrote him a cheque for the costs. Of course, being a Jew, he did not enjoy parting with his money for nothing--no Christian would have minded it in the least. Seriously, Mr. Morgenstern did throw half his cigar into the fire from annoyance. But his first words were--
'What is to be done for these good people then, Sargent?'"
Among the minor characters is a foul-mouthed parrot, described as "the most awfully grotesque, the most pitiably comic animal in creation. It had a green head, with a collar of red round the back of it; while white feathers came down on each side of its huge beak, like the grey whiskers of a retired military man...except for a few long feathers on the shoulders of its wings, blue like those of a jay, there was not another feather on its body: it was as bare as if it had been plucked for roasting."
"...You could sell him, or give him away, you know, Mr. Kitely."
"A pretty present he would be, the rascal! And for selling him, it would be wickedness to put the money in my pocket. There was a time, ma'am, when I would have taught him such words myself, and thought no harm of it; but now, if I was to sell that bird ma'am--how should I look Mr. Fuller [the pastor] in the face next Sunday? No; if I can't cure him, I must twist his neck. We'll eat him, ma'am. I daresay he's nice."
He added in a whisper--"I wanted him to hear me. There's no telling how much them creatures understand."
Lastly, one of MacDonald's warmest uses of humor is in imitating the language of small children. I imagine him listening to the babbling of his own children and making mental notes! There are of course famous example of this which I imagine one of you will soon submit; but for now, a modest case in point:
"The old lady is cranky to-day. She don't feel comfortable in her inside," he would say; and Mattie would repeat the remark to Poppie, as if it were her own. There was one word in it, however, which, amongst others of her vocabulary, making the antique formality of her speech so much the more ludicrous, she could not pronounce.
"The old lady don't feel over comfibittle in her inside today. We must drop it, or she'll be worse," Mattie would gravely remark to Poppie..