Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - which I first encountered in 2015 - has become one of just a handful of books in my life that I am almost-continually re-reading. I find it fascinating and delightful, genuinely wise and deeply witty.
Perhaps this is because it is set in that era around 1800 when - by my understanding of the development of Man's consciousness - a wrong path was taken. By my way of reading; Strange and Norrell sketches-out what might have happened had Englishmen begun upon the right path - that path towards Final Participation.
The Raven King is eventually seen as the author and stage manager of the events of S&N - and the guide towards Final Participation that neither Strange nor Norrell can see.
By 1800, Modern man was alienated (the Age of Reason/ Enlightenment) and in need of healing. Magic is participation - it is the healing of the modern rift between Man and God, Man and nature and between Man and his real, spiritual, divine self.
By contrast with the Raven King; neither Strange nor Norrell are Christian - so on those grounds alone, it can be seen that their ideas are incomplete and distorted.
Norrell seeks what might be termed a late Medieval, scholastic answer (Steiner's Intellectual Soul) - an attempted re-integration by books and study, by quasi-scientific rituals - calmly, gentlemanly, in a way socially-acceptable. (A Temenos Academy approach!).
He intends to exclude belif-in, and interaction-with, fairies (and the Raven King) from his magical system - and yet all the magic he does is in fact indirectly dependent on that source but in an unconscious, and indeed dishonestly denied, fashion.
Strange yearns towards a magic (and spirituality) that is instinctive and spontaneous (unsystematic) - where Men and fairies work together, and Man is (like the fairies) so immersed in nature as to be unable fully to detach himself.
Where Norrell is the proto-scientific, scholarly, ritual magician; Strange harks back to the Shaman (and shares the Shaman's charisma). He represents the 'Romantic reaction' - and becomes friends with Byron (with whom he shares some attributes).
This is the yearning for that earlier developmental phase called Original Participation; which, if effective, would lead to a reversal of the conscious, autonomous, deliberately chosen mode of thinking: Men would become (more like fairies) childlike again - ultimately un-conscious.
By his behind-the-scenes activities; the Raven King ensures that magic is restored to England; but in the process, both Strange and Norrell are removed - along with nearly all the books of magic.
At the end of the novel; magic is more widely available than ever before; but each Man must find his own way to it. The new magicians may call themselves Strange-ites or Norrell-ites, but each magician has made that personal choice, and each must choose and navigate his own path into magic (which is participation).
Strange and Norrell ends, therefore, is a hope-full way; with the new generation of magicians representing a start at the great task of moving towards Man's next, destined development of consciousness. Ritual magic and Shamanic magic are being left-behind; and the new magic is not given a name - but it can be recognized as essentially the exact same thing as Barfield's Final Participation; or what I term Romantic Christianity.
Christianity is always in the background of Strange and Norrell; but the hopeful ending implies a Christian faith in the resurrected life eternal, or else any 'positive' outcome would be merely therapeutic and utilitarian. 'Magic' is romanticism in S&N - specifically, the 'romantic' conscious and chosen awakening of direct and experiential Christianity; as our only possible - as well as most desirable, joyous - destiny.