Reading the Season: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

For the tenth year, I’m sharing a Christmas read here at the Pond. For the first time, it’s a book written for young readers but is ever so relevant for us grown-ups. Herein lies the ingenuity of writer Madeleine L’Engle. Time to dig out that copy that you might have read when you were a youngster. If you haven’t read it, now’s a good time.

 

A Wrinkle in Time

 

Newbery Medal winner A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in the Time Quintet series of fantasy YA fiction about the Murray family, scientist parents and four children Meg, twins Dennys and Sandy, five year-old genius Charles Wallace, and that special friend of Meg’s, Calvin O’Keefe. The deceptively simple odyssey in time and space is packed with wonder and wisdom.

The book not only exudes insights but shows L’Engle’s remarkable foresights. Take this for an example, dematerializing and materializing  for easy transport. Published in 1962, the book came out four years before Scotty beamed Kirk up using the same method in the first season of Star Trek.

Or this fancy idea, ‘tesseracting’, that is, travelling through space and time via a wrinkle in time. The shortest distance between two points is not a straight line, but through a wrinkle when two points are folded. That’s fifty years before Christopher Nolan sends Matthew McConaughey interstellar travelling.

All concepts held in a simple plot. Meg, Charles Wallace, together with friend Calvin, go on an interstellar quest to look for Meg and Charles’ physicist father who had gone missing for almost a year while doing some classified scientific work for the government. This little, unequipped search party is initiated and aided by three celestial beings: Mrs. Whatsit, who’s much wiser than she appears, Mrs. Which, who doesn’t bother materializing but remains as a shimmering beam, and Mrs. Who, who speaks in quotes.

The more a man knows, the less he talks.

Their odyssey brings them finally to the planet Camazotz, where they find Mr. Murray confined by the evil Dark Thing, or IT (Surprise! 24 years before Stephen King’s book and now movie) The smart alecky Charles Wallace is easy prey and quickly influenced by IT. (And for Luddites, what better parallel to address our technology now, the evil IT) Ultimately, it’s Meg, our reluctant and timid heroine, who has to be the one to go fight IT to rescue her little brother.

The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men… God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.

Meg knows Charles Wallace is not himself but trapped and deceived, and must be snatched from the evil force IT. She has just one weapon as her ammunition, given to her by Mrs. Whatsit, that one thing IT doesn’t have: LOVE. With her single act of bravery, she brings the family together again.

When I was a child, I read like a child, I thought like a child. When I became an adult, I can read like a child and like an adult too. That’s the joy of reading A Wrinkle in Time. One can find pleasure in the adventure and feel the vulnerability of the children, as well delve deeper into its symbolism and parallels, and ponder its layers of meaning.

L’Engle writes to the child and the adult in us. She can convey scientific and spiritual concepts at the same time and in a way that both young and old (and those in between) can enjoy. There’s no conflict between the cerebral and the spiritual; they co-exist comfortably in L’Engle’s work. Not only that, they fuse together and from that alchemy rises a whole new, inexplicable entity: Faith.

That first Christmas day when a baby was born in a lowly manger, the war against IT had started to win. Although the last, painful battle on the hill of Calvary had not been waged, the outcome was cast, just because LOVE came.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 

The Movie

‘Tis the Season to read or reread A Wrinkle In Time before the movie adaptation comes out in 2018. Helmed by Selma (2014) director Ava DuVernay, screenplay by Frozen (2013) scriptwriter Jennifer Lee, with some stellar beings including Rees Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine et al.

***

Past Reading the Season Selections:

2016:  Silence by Shusaku Endo

2015: The Book of Ruth

2014: Lila by Marilynne Robinson

2013: Poetry by Madeleine L’Engle

2012: Surprised by Joy by C. S. Lewis

2011: Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle

2010: A Widening Light, Luci Shaw

2009: The Irrational Season 

2008: The Bible and the New York Times by Fleming Rutledge

2008: A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis

Published by

Arti

If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

17 thoughts on “Reading the Season: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle”

  1. That was one of my favourite books at around 12 years old. I think I read it twice in a row. I have to admit after the failure of similar book adaptations, I have some ambivalence regarding seeing the movie!

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    1. Yeah, me too, I loved this book when I was a child, and I still have my precious copy of it, not quite loved to death. The idea of it being made into a film bothers me: what kind of IT could possibly be as terrifying as the one in my imagination?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lisa,

        Welcome to the Pond! Yes, I know those who love books may not readily embrace movie adaptations. A quick survey of some examples, they didn’t do too bad a job with the Narnia series, and actually done a great job with the Tolkien classics LOTR. Maybe viewing the movies as looking into a different kind of artists sharing their imagination may enhance our appreciation of cinematic expressions of literary works.

        Again, thanks for stopping by Ripples. Hope to hear from you again. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Michelle,

      There have been failures, and then there have been successful ones too. I wish of course, this new adaptation will be a good one. A look at the director and cast, I think it’s not going to be a direct transposition from book to screen but hey, just like any form of art, there are different styles and expressions. This just might be a postmodern piece. 🙂

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  2. I’ve never read anything but “The Irrational Season,” and that single book has been re-read so many times I can’t count. I loved this review. It made “A Wrinkle In Time” sound ever so much more interesting than other reviews I’ve read. I’ll not have time in Advent or the Christmas season, but it’s on the list now.

    A blessed Advent, Arti!

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    1. Linda,

      Thanks for your kind words. Hope you have a chance to read “A Wrinkle in Time”. Don’t watch the movie without reading the book. I think it will be quite a different entity. 🙂
      “The Irrational Season” is wonderful. It’s part of the “The Crosswicks Journals” which is a treasure. That’s my selection for “Reading the Season” in 2009. Anything by Madeleine L’Engle is an inspiration.

      You have a blessed Advent too!

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  3. This is a wonderful review. I have an amazon order ready to go soon and I suspect this will be on the list! When you said that when you were a child you read like a child and then as an adult… well, that so resonated. When I reread something from long ago (usually a classic of sorts) it has an entirely different meaning based on life experience, yet there is still that excitement from reading it (or seeing it, if it’s a film) the first time. I can tell this has made an impact on you for a long while. An impact worth sharing. Big hugs for a happy season.

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    1. Jeanie,

      It’s true isn’t it? Not just for books, but movies too. How watching a film again years later could bring very different perspectives or emotional response. It’s how we interpret the world via our experiences and how we’ve changed through the years. BTW, that sentence is a spin-off from the Bible verse I Corinthians 13:11 . Maybe you’ve noticed. 🙂

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  4. This book seems to have been ahead of time, I must ask my parents if they read it. I re-read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland last year as an adult and only then realised how much I’d skip read it as a child, I enjoyed it more.
    Best wishes
    Charlotte

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    1. nikkipolani,

      Indeed you can always reread your collection of the Time Quintet. But I’d say give the movie a try when it comes out. It’s good that they select this title to adapt, of all the YA classics. Of course we all hope the adaptation will do justice to the fine writing of Madeleine L’Engle. 🙂

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    1. Indeed, many children’s and YA works are timeless. And some are especially timely now. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Nicola! Merry Christmas and all best wishes for the New Year! 🙂

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