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The Princess and the Goblin

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Wikipedia article

'The Princess and the Goblin' is a children's fantasy novel by George MacDonald. It was published in 1872 by Strahan & Co.

The sequel to this book is 'The Princess and Curdie'.

Anne Thaxter Eaton writes in 'A Critical History of Children's Literature' that 'The Princess and the Goblin' and its sequel quietly suggest in every incident ideas of courage and honor." Jeffrey Holdaway writing in 'New Zealand Art Monthly' said that both books start out as normal fairytales but slowly become stranger, and that they contain layers of symbolism similar to that of Lewis Carrolls work.


Eight year old Princess Irene lives a lonely life in a wild, desolate, mountainous kingdom, with only her nursemaid, "Lootie" for company. Due to her sheltered upbringing, her father being absent attending to affairs of state and her mother being dead, Irene has never known about the existence of the goblins, which lurk in the underground mines.

These goblins (also known as "gnomes" or "kobolds") are grotesque and hideous beings, who centuries ago were once human, but due to varying reasons, were driven underground and were malformed and distorted by their new lifestyle. This caused them to despise the humans above the ground and vow revenge against them. Irene and Lootie – who knows of the goblins – stay out late one night and are chased by the goblins, who only appear on the surface at night as sunshine repulses them. Lootie and Irene barely escape the goblins after a miner's child, a boy named Curdie Peterson, appears and sings loudly to the goblins, which drives them away. Curdie states that goblins are repelled by singing, and he and Irene begin to become friends.

However, Curdie soon discovers, after he ventures into the mines and accidentally enters the realm of the goblins, that the goblins are planning a war against the humans on the surface, where they plot to abduct the Princess and marry her to Prince Harelip, the heir to the throne of the goblin kingdom, therefore forcing the humans to accept the goblins as their rulers. The driving force behind this scheme is the vile Goblin Queen, the stepmother of Harelip, who hides a secret – she has toes, a physical trait that goblins do not have and therefore regard with disgust.

WIth the help of Irene's ethereal great-great grandmother, the Princess and Curdie must hatch a plan to defeat the goblins and save the kingdom.

Film adaptations

In the 1960s, the novel was adapted in animated form by Jay Ward for his 'Fractured Fairy Tales' series. This version involved a race of innocent goblins who are forced to live underground. The goblin king falls in love with a princess, but a prince saves her by reciting poetry because goblins hate it.

A full-length animated adaptation of the book, directed by Jzsef Gmes, was released in 1992 in the United Kingdom, and in June 1994 in the United States. This Hungary/Wales/Japan co-production, created at Budapest's PannniaFilm, Japan's NHK, and S4C and Siriol Productions in Great Britain, starred the voices of Joss Ackland, Claire Bloom and William Hootkins. The film's producer, Robin Lyons, also wrote the screenplay. However, it was not well received commercially nor critically upon its U.S. release from Hemdale Film Corporation in summer 1994, reportedly grossing only $1.8 million domestically and receiving mainly negative reviews (compared to Disney's very successful 'The Lion King' that was released during the same month in the United States).

The film's Dutch title is "De Prinses van het Zonnevolk", "Prinsessan og durtarnir" in Icelandic, (English: The Princess and the Trolls), and "La princesse et la fort magique" (The princess and the magic forest) in French.

Other adaptations

"The Princess and the Goblins" is also a poem by Sylvia Plath (19321963).

It was a book in the "100 Classic Books" collection for the Nintendo DS.

Twyla Tharp used the story in the full-length ballet of the same title. It was her first to incorporate children and was co-commissioned by Atlanta Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 2012.


Australian Title: The Magic Princess


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