08 September 2007

The Passing of Madeleine L'Engle

I remember reading "A Wrinkle in Time" for the first time around age 8 or 9. It had been a favorite of my mother's and she recommended it to me. It was the first time I really became entranced with the world of books. It's the book that made me realize that not all books were full of bland, watered-down history or numbers than conveyed nothing to me. It was my introduction to not only fantasy fiction but my introduction to the world of literature at large. Up until that time I was resigned to the fact that nothing in this world, or in the mind of anyone else, could possibly equal or satisfy my imagination. For me, Madeleine L'Engle was the first author to open my eyes and my mind to the possibilities. She reached me before C.S. Lewis, before Tolkien and long, long before the Harry Potter books she was reaching kids of all ages. I've reread most of the time series as an adult and they're still just as engaging, just as entertaining and just as thought provoking as they were when I was a little girl. In what other book can you learn about tesseracts, mitochondria and how to talk to the opposite sex? It was only after I began studying witchcraft that I realized that quite a few of the characters from "A Wrinkle in Time" are witches of a kind.

Yes, I know L'Engle was a Christian and wrote from that perspective. But a woman who reads minds? A woman who turns into a Pegasus and carries children so high up they must breathe the fragrance of special flowers to survive the trip? Come on, those women are witches in my book. And who could forget the Happy Medium? As she gazes into her ball she can see happenings worlds away and feels sorry for Earthlings being all alone, separate from the other beings in the universe. But the magic of L'Engle's creations was more than just beautiful imagery and fantastical landscapes. She was a master storyteller with a lot to say about the worst kinds of government and the free will of all beings. She delights the reader even as she warns us about totalitarianism. Amazing beasts, magical plants and the thwarting of an ultra-controlling government? What more could a girl ask from a fascinating read? The world has lost a great treasure; she will be missed.

Madeleine L'Engle

29 November 1918 - 6 September 2007

No comments: