Missed another one

Abe Gross argross at bigpond.net.au
Mon Feb 10 05:59:14 EST 2003




> Widdy:
> > I would be remiss if I didn't add one more book to my list of
> > favourites. I was just down scanning my bookshelves and realized that
> > I hadn't added Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" to my list. I
> > think I read this almost as much as I read Earthsea and Harriet.

Charlie wrote:

> Can't agree there. I read this just a few years ago, under the impression
> (you can see why) that it would be a time fantasy. I enjoyed the first two
> or three chapters - Charles Wallace a good creation - but my Enjoyometer
> dipped sharply when we got to that wearisome set of whimsical witches
called
> Why and What and Wherefore (or similar). And it started sending out blue
> sparks when I realised that the whole thing was a (and I exaggerate only
> very slightly for effect) a McCarthyite allegory of the Cold War which
> taught the only way to avoid a life of mindless uniformity (communism) was
> by constant recitation of the Gettysburg address and/or the Pledge of
> Allegiance (free and indendent thought).
>
> The book may have had one or two redeeming features: it had that winning
> feature, a sister rescuing a brother, which I always like for some reason.
> But on the whole I was very disappointed.

I can see what you mean, but I think that when I read it, just after it had
been published (or just after it had won a Big Prize) in the 60s, it felt
really different from anything else I'd read. As a child of about 12 living
in Australia, I was certainly unaware of any McCarthyite allegories (though
I did see its religious ones, and I did feel that these were a bit too
obvious.) It felt very magical to me. I loved Mrs Whatsit, Who and Which (I
think those were the names) and I too loved the scene where Meg saves
Charles Wallace. All this seemed very fresh and wonderful to me then. What
bothers me now about some of L'Engle's work is that she seems to arbitrarily
assign Goodness to some people and some values and Badness to others (which
is what Gili wrote recently--I think it was Gili). She can get mighty
preachy, and while the seeds of preachiness can be seen in _Wrinkle_, I
found it magical as a teenager and I still think it stands up fairly well
today.

The difference in response is, I suspect, because I first read it as a child
in the 60s and you read it as an adult recently.

Ros


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