The Madeleine L’Engle Reread

Introducing the Madeleine L’Engle Reread

Madeleine L’Engle was a relatively successful author of mainstream young adult fiction before she wrote the astonishing novel A Wrinkle in Time, a work of science fiction that managed to combine mathematics, space travel, angels, friendly singing beasts, and a dystopian community in a tightly plotted novel about not fitting in. L’Engle apparently thought up the plot while on a camping trip, but the work reflects a number of themes—particularly physics and Christian theology—that were to fascinate L’Engle for her entire life, and continue to be explored in novel after novel.

To help celebrate the upcoming 50 year anniversary of the first appearance of A Wrinkle in Time, over the next few weeks (months?), I’ll be looking at a number of L’Engle’s novels, including some (not all) of her mainstream novels as well. Since L’Engle frequently wrote her series novels out of order, and had a habit of bringing characters from one book into another, sometimes in a cameo or supporting role, creating an interlacing web, I’ve decided that it will be easier to do this reread in publication order….

…and break this rule almost immediately after saying that, since I’m starting with a 1983 edition of the 1949 And Both Were Young, which restored “inappropriate” elements removed for a 1940s audience. Already, early in her career, L’Engle showed that she would not hesitate to press against fictional boundaries. And already, she was messing with the rules of time. We’ll be seeing much more of this as this reread progresses.

We begin with And Both Were Young.

Mari Ness reads a lot. She lives in central Florida.


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