Monday, September 10, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle, R.I.P.

Christianity Today has several items about Madeleine L'Engle who died last Thursday. She was a Christian and an author, especially well known for the trilogy of books that began with A Wrinkle in Time.

Apart from Lewis and Tolkien, I have always said, I am not a fantasy fan - but I read those books with pleasure - so I really should say, "apart from Lewis, Tolkien and L'Engle...."

The Christianity Today material includes an interview from 1979 and an article/review from the same year about the Wrinkle in Time trilogy, which includes the following:
She gives models in her books of what the Christian family can be. Religion may be out—but it's in for her. As to the question of realism versus fantasy, she follows her own sense of which form to put with which story. .... It is refreshing to read an author who writes out of conviction rather than from a desire to please the book-buying public. Such writers will always find a market. ....

The trilogy (which was never intended to be so, sometimes these things just happen with a writer) begins with A Wrinkle in Time (1962), continues in A Wind in the Door (1973), and concludes with [A Swiftly Tilting] Planet. (I do hope we will have more Charles Wallace stories in the future, though.) Each book focuses on a particular theme that is worked out in the plot. The struggle, as befits a story that contains the supernatural, is of cosmic proportions: good versus evil. Of course, all of L'Engle's books, whether other worldly or not, deal with that conflict.

Supernatural characters appear in each book. In Wrinkle we find Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which; in Door, there's a cherubim; and in Planet, a unicorn. These characters appear naturally, with little pretension and without calling great attention to the fact that they are supernatural. Such beings do exist, Christians believe. Why should we be so surprised? With another writer, a nonbeliever, perhaps, we might find the supernatural beings as rulers in the story, the prime movers in the universe. But not so with L'Engle. These characters are servants, just as much as Charles Wallace or Meg. And though not always stated, the person they serve is God. ....
Allegorical Fantasy: Mortal Dealings with Cosmic Questions | Christianity Today

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:38 AM

    Hi Jim,
    I had the privilege of meeting Madeleine L'Engle at one of my early Associated Church Press gatherings in North Carolina. She was a captivating and gracious lady, plus I got an autographed copy of "Wrinkle in Time." Thanks for sharing about her passing-- I had not heard about it.

    Kevin Butler


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