A few years ago, I reread Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and—at the risk of sounding like an asshole—I found that it didn’t hold up as well as many of my childhood favorites. But the fact that I’ve become a fussy adult doesn’t diminish the impact the Time Quartet had on me as a kid. And it must be said that, even in the rereading, the IT is sublimely creepy, and Aunt Beast remains one of my favorite literary characters of all time.
L’Engle passed away yesterday at the age of 88. From the NYTimes obit:
The “St. James Guide to Children’s Writers” called Ms. L’Engle “one of the truly important writers of juvenile fiction in recent decades.” Such accolades did not come from pulling punches: “Wrinkle” is one of the most banned books because of its treatment of the deity.
“It was a dark and stormy night,” it begins, repeating the line of a 19th- century novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, and presaging the immortal sentence that Snoopy, the inspiration-challenged beagle of the Peanuts cartoon, would type again and again. After the opening, “Wrinkle,” quite literally, takes off. Meg Murray, with help from her psychic baby brother, uses time travel and extrasensory perception to rescue her father, a gifted scientist, from a planet controlled by the Dark Thing. She does so through the power of love.
The book used concepts that Ms. L’Engle said she had plucked from Einstein’s theory of relativity and Planck’s quantum theory, almost flaunting her frequent assertion that children’s literature is literature too difficult for adults to understand. She also characterized the book as her refutation of ideas of German theologians.
I love ballsy YA authors and ballsy old ladies, and Lady L’Engle seems to have been both. I think I’ll go back and reread the rest of the Time series in her honor.