I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
What a weird little book. I owned a copy of this book as a child and never read it. Now I know why--lots of it is just so much babble to a child. Without the historical notes in this copy of the work, I wouldn’t have had a clue about a lot of the details included in it. I have to wonder who gave it to me way back when, and whether they had ever read it themselves? I certainly wouldn’t hand it to a contemporary child.
I found it interesting that the clergyman author was so easily able to accept Darwin’s theory of evolution. Beliefs weren’t quite so cut and dried at that time apparently. I also have to think that Kingsley had read Gulliver’s Travels and may have aspired to produce something similar. His comments on contemporary events, seemingly scattered at random through the text, suggest those aspirations. It was also a strange mix of mythology, fairy tales, and Christianity. Very, very odd.