08 September 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

The author of A Wrinkle in Time is dead at the age of 88. She wrote many other books, some for children, some for adults, on many subjects, but it is Wrinkle that everyone remembers. Carmen, who is on a young adult lit tear now that she works at the library, introduced me to a recorded version of it last year. I liked it, and remembered that some friends of mine at the University of Santa Barbara had patiently and lovingly translated it into Latin. I still have my Latin edition, right next to Winnie ille Pu.

John Podhoretz lived in the same apartment building with her when he was a child and writes a wonderful remembrance of her on NRO. Here is a taste of it:

Then, when I was 9 or 10, I read A Wrinkle in Time and my sister Naomi told me offhandedly that she was its author.

I wrote her the first fan letter of my life and, heart pounding, rode the elevator to 9 and slipped it under her door. Within hours a package was left at our door with an inscribed copy of its recently published sequel, A Wind at the Door, a box of baked chocolate chip cookies, and a response that was so appreciative I could hardly believe it, it was so gracious and thoughtful. I had grown up with writers whose friends were all writers and one thing I had learned even at that ludicrously tender age is that saying anything to any author about his or her work is to enter into an emotional minefield.

Madeleine had sold more copies of her work than any of my parents' friends, and probably had received more fan mail than any of them, but her letter had a tone of delight to it that not only suggested she understood how to write to a child, but also that she had about her an almost supernatural grace — suitable to someone who was a very serious churchgoing Episcopalian and the author of several novels for adults about the difficulties and joys of faith.

Quite a legacy for a person to leave behind as they move on.

Labels: ,


At 08 September, 2007 20:19, Anonymous Maire said...

I also first read a Wrinkle in Time around age 10 or 11. I still remember the wonderful flash I felt when beginning to understand what a Tesseract is, and the revelation that being equal and being the same just aren't the same thing.

The sense of wonder the book inspired, the sense of the importance of individuality, oh yes, and the fact that children can be braver and wiser than adults -- what great lessons to live by.

At 14 September, 2007 23:15, Blogger Clemens said...

I was probably a bit too old for that reaction since I read it last year. I think I had that reaction though to some of the sci-fi I read. The Foundation Trilogy, some of Edgar Rice Burroughs (oddly), and of course, LOTR, introduced to my by my old brother, Jesse.


Post a Comment

<< Home