Thursday, September 13, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

"Our truest responsibility to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find the truth."

"You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."
~Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007), American writer, author of A Wrinkle In Time.

I was a serious fan of Ms. L'Engle, from A Wrinkle in Time and sequels and offshoots (one of which landed me in trouble with my mom who saw the book cover art of a girl and boy swimming with dolphin - I mean, Seriously! - and she assumed wrongly racy content) to A Severed Wasp, the first adult L'Engle novel I read that knocked my socks off (because the protagonist criss-crossed many times over the lines between love and loyalty and betrayal, in my young mind).

I remember the strong sense of good vs. evil I learned from A Wrinkle in Time stories. Meg, the twins, what was the boy's name, Calvin? I had better re-read it soon because I'm teaching it (we bought a team set, hurray!) this year. The main characters were so Smart, it seemed to me, and I loved their transformation of Smart to Wise through their adventures.

I felt a special connection with Ms. L'Engle because she associated with the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in my old stomping grounds of Morningside Heights on the upper west side of Manhattan.

Newspaper article about her death and life quoted her opinion of Harry Potter as "a nice story but it has nothing underneath it" - did she really say that?! If so, I hope she had only read The Sorcerer's Stone, perhaps. Maybe now she can catch up...

I'm going to miss her. Good time to revisit those young adult classics.

7 comments:

Tricia Grissom said...

I still remember her talking about mitochondria in her book! You think a discussion of DNA would fly in YA today? And that was way before CSI.

It's sad she's gone.

roller coaster teacher said...

At the time (and probably still) the science in Wrinkle was just above my head but close enough for me to ride along.

Yeah, I felt sadder after I wrote the post than before. She was a great influence in my young adult life. I felt disconnected from American/western culture in a lot of ways, growing up as immigrant kid, but her writing helped me make connections and ultimately make sense of my world and my life. Isn't that what we English teachers want the most for our students?

Ms. George said...

A beautiful post. Having been away from the computer except for work needs, I had no idea she passed away until one of my collab teachers mentioned it.
I also liked the Austin Family books...

jenamoured said...

i know you're busy and everything, but i'm goin to have to ask you to update.

roller coaster teacher said...

Thanks, Jen! I'll try... You know I have tons of good stories.

Jessica said...

The brothers' names were Charles Wallace (the brilliant one), Dennys and Sandy. I have read that book more times than I can count, once as an adult to my nine year old son.

Beautiful post though with amazing quotes.

roller coaster teacher said...

I have been re-reading A Wrinkle in Time. I used to love the beginning section - love Meg and Calvin and the rest, but now it feels slow, probably b/c I'm used to fast paced, action packed fantasy books. The vocabulary is tough - I think my 7th graders would have a lot of trouble with it. I'm near the end now, where Meg, Calvin and Meg's dad are in the land of Aunt Beast, and Meg just realized she has to go back for Charles Wallace. It's super good...