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A Dish of Orts : Chiefly Papers on the Imagination

George MacDonald

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Few therefore understand the judgment of Hamlet upon himself; the common reader is so incapable of imagining he could mean it of his own general character as a man, that he attributes the utterance to shame for the postponement of a vengeance, which indeed he must have been such as his critic to be capable of performing upon no better proof than he had yet had. When the man whose unfolding I would now represent, regards even his dearest love, he finds it such a poor, selfish, low-lived thing, that in his heart he shames himself before his children and his friends. How little labour, how little watching, how little pain has he endured for their sakes! He reads of great things in this kind, but in himself he does not find them. How often has he not been wrongfully displeased—wrathful with the innocent! How often has he not hurt a heart more tender than his own! Has he ever once been faithful to the height of his ideal? Is his life on the whole a thing to regard with complacency, or. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I particularly appreciated his first and last essays on imagination, as well as the sermon on the nature and place of opinions.

Whew!! This took me forever to finish. At times it was a two star book and at times a five star one. My favorite chapters were the one on Shakespeare, the one on Shelley which was by far the easiest to read, the Sermon, and the final essay The Fantastic Imagination.

As a whole, this collection of essays by MacDonald is uneven. A few of the essays are highly forgettable, and most of it is written in MacDonald's occasionally opaque style. However, the good essays are worth their weight in gold, and even the most forgettable of the general essays each have somethi