George MacDonald's novel Lilith relates the story of a young man inheriting his deceased father's estate and coming in contact with its remarkable library and mysterious librarian. The protagonist's subsequent adventures in a fantastical world prepare the young Mr. Vane to assume authority over his inherited archive and become an archon. Jacques Derrida's exposition of the responsibilities of the archon including archival authority, domiciliation, and consignation illuminate the mentoring role of the elusive librarian Mr. Raven in Vane's adventures. By using Derrida's deconstruction of archives to unpack the intricacies of knowledge transfer in MacDonald's novel, the lasting impact of the archon on the archive and the individuals in Lilith, as well as the importance of the archon in the transfer of knowledge between individuals facilitated through relationships, becomes apparent. The archon, acting as a gatherer, organizer, and shaper of texts, uses the materials within the archive to exercise power and to bequeath power upon other individuals, as seen in the character Mr. Raven's actions. Lilith illustrates the necessity of the archon as he shapes the archive's contents and governs the interactions between book and reader, ultimately allowing the archive to become a place where knowledge is heritable.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Fuller, Lauran Ray, "Inheriting the Library: The Archon and the Archive in George MacDonald's Lilith" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 4432.
archive, archon, Jacques Derrida, George MacDonald, Lilith, knowledge transfer, archive theory