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Lilith (Novel)

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Lilith Book Cover, written by George MacDonald
Author(s) George MacDonald
Publisher Chatto and Windus
Publication date 1895
Media type Hardcover
Length 351 Pages

For other uses of the name Lilith, see Lilith (disambiguation).

Lilith is a fantasy novel written by Scottish writer George MacDonald and first published in 1895. Its importance was recognized in its later revival in paperback by Ballantine Books as the fifth volume of the celebrated Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in September 1969.[1]

Lilith is considered among the darkest of MacDonald's works, and among the most profound. It is a story concerning the nature of life, death and salvation. Many believe MacDonald is arguing for Christian universalism, or the idea that all will eventually be saved.


  • Title: Lilith
  • Author: George MacDonald
  • Published By: Chatto and Windus
  • Length: 351 Pages
  • Format: Hardcover & Paperback
  • Publishing Date: 1895

Plot Summary

Mr. Vane, the protagonist of Lilith, owns a library that seems to be haunted by the former librarian, who looks much like a raven from the brief glimpses he catches of the wraith. After finally encountering the supposed ghost, the mysterious Mr. Raven, Vane learns that Raven had known his father; indeed, Vane's father had visited the strange parallel universe from which Raven comes and goes and now resides therein. Vane follows Raven into the world through a mirror (this symbolistic realm is described as "the region of the seven dimensions", a term taken from Jacob Boehme).

Inside the world, Vane learns of a house of beds where the dreamers sleep until the end of the world in death: a good death, in which life is found. Vane's father refused to sleep there and is, instead, forced to do battle with skeletons in a haunted wood. After a treacherous journey through a valley (where the moon is the only thing to keep him safe), Mr. Vane meets the Little Ones, children who never grow up, only get bigger and dumber, turning into "bags" or bad giants. After conversing with Lona, the eldest of the children, Mr. Vane decides to help them, and sets off to gather more information, although the Raven (who is also Adam) has warned Mr. Vane that he needs to sleep with the dreamers before he can really help them.

While on his journey, he meets Lilith, the princess of Bulika. Vane, although nearly blinded by Lilith's beauty and charms, eventually leads the Little Ones in a battle against Bulika. Lona, Vane's love, turns out to be Lilith's daughter, and is killed by her own mother. Lilith, however, is captured and brought to Adam and Eve at the house of death, where they struggle to make her open her hand, fused shut, in which she holds the water the Little Ones need to grow. Only when she gives it up can Lilith join the sleepers in blissful dreams, free of sin. After a long struggle Lilith bids Adam cut her hand from her body; it is done, Lilith sleeps, and Vane is sent to bury the hand; water flows from the hole and washes the land over. Vane is then allowed to join the Little Ones, already asleep, in their dreaming. He takes his bed, next to Lona's, and finds true life in death.

Publication History

  • 1895, UK, Chatto and Windus OCLC 27718781, Pub date 1895, Hardback, reprinted 1896
  • 1895, USA, Dodd, Mead and Company OCLC 27718786, Pub date 1895, Hardback, reprinted 1896
  • 1924, UK, Allen & Unwin OCLC 8458175, Pub date 1924, Hardback
  • 1925, USA, E. P. Dutton OCLC 6941443, Pub date 1925, Hardback
  • 1954, USA, Eerdmans, Pub date 1954, Hardback, with Phantastes in The Visionary Novels of George MacDonald, reprinted 1964
  • 1969, USA, Ballantine Books OCLC 220455361 , Pub date September 1969, Paperback, as part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series
  • 1986, UK, Allison & Busby ISBN 0-85031-626-X, Pub date October 1986, Paperback, reprinted 1987
  • 1986, UK, Lion ISBN 0-85648-342-7, Pub date October 1986, Paperback
  • 1994, UK, Johannesen ISBN 1-881084-27-2, Pub date October 1994, Hardcover, omnibus with a first draft as Lilith: A Duplex
  • 2000, USA, Eerdmans ISBN 0-80286-061-3, Pub date 2000, Paperback, reprinted 2002


  1. MacDonald, George (September 1969). "About Lilith and George MacDonald: The Land Beyond the Hidden Door, by Lin Carter (introduction)". Lilith. New York: Ballantine Books. pp. v-x. OCLC 220455361.


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