The Full Wiki

A Wrinkle in Time: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Wrinkle in Time  
A Wrinkle in Time hardcover, 1960s (same cover as first edition except for addition of the Newbery Medal)
Author Madeleine L'Engle
Illustrator Ellen Raskin (1960s editions),
Leo and Diane Dillon (current hardcover)
Country United States
Language English
Series Time Quartet
Genre(s) Young Adult, Science fiction novel
Publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Publication date 1962
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)
Pages 230 pp
ISBN ISBN 0-374-38613-7
OCLC Number 22421788
LC Classification PZ7.L5385 Wr 1962
Followed by A Wind in the Door

A Wrinkle in Time is a science fantasy[1] novel by Madeleine L'Engle, first published in 1962.[2] The book won a Newbery Medal, Sequoyah Book Award, and Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and was runner-up for the Hans Christian Andersen Award.[3] It is the first in L'Engle's series of books about the Murry and O'Keefe families.


Plot summary

Meg Murry's classmates and teachers see her as a bad-tempered adolescent. Her family knows that she is emotionally immature but also see her as capable of great things. The family includes her pretty scientist mother; her mysteriously absent scientist father; her 10-year-old twin brothers, the athletic Sandy and Dennys; and her five year-old brother Charles Wallace Murry, a super-genius.

The book begins with the line "It was a dark and stormy night," an allusion to the opening words in Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's 1830 novel Paul Clifford. During that stormy night the Murrys are visited by an eccentric old woman named Mrs.Whatsit, who has previously made the acquaintance of Charles Wallace. After drying her feet and having a snack with Charles, Meg and their mother, Mrs.Whatsit tells an already perplexed Mrs. Murry that "there is such a thing as a tesseract," which causes her to almost faint. It was a joke that Mr. and Mrs. Murry shared.

The next morning, Meg discovers the term refers to a scientific concept her father was working on before his mysterious disappearance. The following afternoon, Meg and Charles Wallace encounter Meg's schoolmate, Calvin O'Keefe, a high-school junior who, although he is a "big man on campus", considers himself a misfit as well. They go to visit an old haunted house near town which Charles Wallace already knows as the home of Mrs.Whatsit. There they encounter a companion of Mrs.Whatsit, the equally strange Mrs.Who. She promises that she and her friends will help Meg find and rescue her father. Meg tells Calvin a great deal about herself, including the disappearance of her father, and they become close. In the evening, Charles Wallace declares it is time for them to go on their mission to save their father. This is accompanied by the appearance of the third member of the "Mrs.Ws", Mrs.Which.

Mrs.Whatsit, Mrs.Who, and Mrs.Which turn out to be angelic beings who transport Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe through the universe by means of tesseract, a fifth-dimensional phenomenon explained as being similar to folding the fabric of space and time. Their first stop is the planet Uriel, a Utopian planet filled with joyous beings who live always in a state of light and love. There the "Mrs. Ws" reveal to the children that the universe is under attack from an evil being who appears as a large dark cloud called The Black Thing. Seeing the Black Thing even from a distance is disturbing to Meg. While working on a secret government project to achieve faster-than-light travel by tesseract, Meg's father was accidentally trapped on Camazotz, an alien planet dominated by the Black Thing. The children are then taken elsewhere to visit a woman who is a kind of medium (the "Happy Medium") with a crystal ball. In it, they see that Earth is partially covered by the darkness, although great religious figures, philosophers, and artists have been fighting against it. Mrs.Whatsit is revealed to be a former star who exploded in an act of self-sacrifice to fight the darkness.

The children travel to Camazotz to rescue Meg's father. They find that all the inhabitants behave in a mechanistic way and seem to be all under the control of a single mind. They look for the central headquarters on the planet (described as CENTRAL Central Intelligence) and they discover a man with red eyes with telepathic abilities who can cast a hypnotic spell over their minds. He claims to know the whereabouts of their father. Charles Wallace looks into his eyes and becomes taken over by the mind controlling the planet. Under its influence, he takes Meg and Calvin to the place where Dr. Murry is being held prisoner because he would not succumb to the group mind. The planet turns out to be controlled by an evil disembodied brain with powerful telepathic abilities, which the inhabitants of Camazotz call "IT". Charles Wallace takes them to the place where IT is held, and in close proximity to IT, all of them are threatened by a possible telepathic takeover of their minds. To escape, Dr. Murray "tessers" Calvin, Meg and himself away from Camazotz, but Charles Wallace is left behind, still under the influence of IT. The experience of tessering through The Black Thing nearly kills Meg, and she is almost completely paralyzed upon their arrival to a dimly lit planet. Calvin and the Murrys are discovered by the planet's inhabitants: large, sightless "beasts" with tentacles and four arms who prove both wise and gentle. Meg's paralysis is cured under the care of one inhabitant, whom Meg nicknames "Aunt Beast", and she is charged with rescuing Charles Wallace by the Mrs. Ws. Mrs.Which tessers Meg to Camazotz and tells her that she possesses something that can defeat IT. Confronting IT, Meg realizes that the evil IT is unable to stand the emotion love, and by focusing all her love at Charles Wallace she is able to free him from IT's control. Mrs.Whatsit tessers the Murrys and Cal back to Earth, where they are reunited with Mrs. Murry and the twins. The three Mrs. Ws appear for a moment to say goodbye to the family, but before they can tell them where they are going they disappear forever.



Primary human characters

Meg Murry

Margaret "Meg" Murry is the outcast of the family and also the oldest child of scientists Alex and Kate Murry. Mathematically brilliant but less than adept at other subjects in school, Meg is "awkward", unpopular, and defensive around authority figures as well as her peers. Although she has the brains to accomplish difficult tasks, she rarely puts her strengths to use. She loves her family, especially her brother, Charles Wallace, and longs desperately for her missing father. Like many adolescent girls, Meg is unhappy with her physical appearance, particularly her mouse-brown, unruly hair, braces and glasses, and considers herself a "monster" in comparison with her mother. She is about fourteen years old, and is "several grades" below Calvin, who is fourteen years old but in eleventh grade. Introduced on the first page of the book, she is the story's protagonist.

Charles Wallace Murry

Charles Wallace Murry is the youngest Murry child, the most extraordinary and the most vulnerable of the novel's human characters, and the youngest to journey to Camazotz. Charles Wallace did not talk at all until he was nearly four years old, at which time he began to speak in complete sentences. Now five years old, Charles Wallace seldom speaks to anyone but his family, but can empathically or telepathically "read" certain people's thoughts and feelings, and has an extraordinary vocabulary. A biological "sport," he is intellectually curious, loving, and unfazed by extraordinary people and events. He was the first to meet the Mrs. Ws and brought Meg to see them. Initially able to block IT out of his mind, he opens himself to the Man with Red Eyes and thus falls under IT's control. He first appears in Chapter One.

Calvin O'Keefe

Calvin O'Keefe is the third oldest of Paddy and Branwen O'Keefe's eleven children, a tall, thin, red-haired 14-year-old[4] high school junior who plays on the school basketball team and is one of the popular boys in high school. Neglected by his own family, Calvin joyfully enters the lives of the Murry family, starting in Chapter Two. He shows some signs of being able to communicate telepathically, the same power Charles Wallace seems to have, a technique referred to in later books as kything. He also feels as if he has been hiding his true self all his life, and likes the Murry family much more than his own, which is characterized by abuse and dysfunctional dynamics.

Primary immortal characters

Hardcover art by Leo and Diane Dillon, showing the Mrs. Ws

The three characters of Mrs.Whatsit, Mrs.Who, and Mrs.Which are angelic beings who have the ability to travel at will across large stretches of time and space by dematerializing and rematerializing. They do not have a fixed physical form, but appear to humans as elderly women. However, they are capable of metamorphosing into other creatures. All of them are millennia old. Mrs. Whatsit in particular was engaged in war with The Black Thing.


Mrs.Whatsit is first described as an elderly woman wrapped in layers of clothes and first appears in chapter one. Charles Wallace, a five year old boy in the book, found her in a 'haunted house' in the woods, where she has been living with her two friends, Mrs.Who and Mrs.Which. Mrs.Whatsit is the youngest of the Mrs. Ws (despite being over 2 billion years old), and the best of the three at interacting with the children.

In Chapter Four, the group (Charles Wallace, Calvin, and Meg) witnesses the physical transformation of Mrs.Whatsit into a centaur-like winged being on the planet Uriel. Mrs.Whatsit is also revealed to have been a star that sacrificed itself by exploding in order to destroy a section of the Black Thing.


Mrs.Who is described as a plump woman with spectacles. She is seen quoting in Latin, Spanish, Italian, German, French, Portuguese and Greek. She also quotes William Shakespeare and the Bible repeatedly. Mrs.Whatsit explains that Mrs.Who finds it "difficult to verbalize" in her own words. She is first introduced in Chapter Two.


Mrs.Which is the oldest of the Mrs.Whatsit's friends, and the most authoritative, although she interacts less with the children than do Mrs.Whatsit and Mrs.Who. Introduced at the end of Chapter Three, she is normally seen as little more than a shimmer of light or a shadow. Mrs.Which seldom fully materializes, but in human form she resembles a stereotyped witch in black robe and peaked hat, probably a pun of "which" and "witch". She finds it hard to think as a corporeal being. In Chapter Five, she accidentally takes Charles, Meg, and Calvin to a two-dimensional world. Her speech is written with doubled letters, and described as "authoritative"; she admits that "thee llanguage of worrds" is difficult for her. Nevertheless, Meg quickly decides that she is "someone in whom one could put complete trust."

The Man with the Red Eyes

The Man with Red Eyes- his actual name never revealed- is a being Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin encounter on their quest to rescue Meg and Charles Wallace's father on the planet Camazotz. He is the Prime Coordinator on that planet. Although this man appears human, he explains that IT actually talks through him;that he is a part of IT. He entices Charles Wallace to look into his glowing red eyes (his namesake) in order to find his father. When Charles Wallace does so, he too becomes possessed by the mind of IT, after which the Man with Red Eyes drops out of the story.


Current book cover art by Taeeun Yoo, showing the Mrs. Ws (at the left) and the children at the CENTRAL Central Intelligence building (at the right)

IT is the bodiless telepathic brain that dominates the planet of Camazotz. IT controls all the people in Camazotz and makes people often do same things together in a mechanistic synchronicity as if they were robots. IT speaks through The Man With Red Eyes and later through Charles Wallace, and is functionally part of the interstellar cloud of evil called the Black Thing. IT is described as slightly larger than a human brain. Housed near the "CENTRAL Central Intelligence" building, IT is said to pulse and quiver on IT's dais. IT's aim is to enforce absolute conformity on Camazotz, with the claimed benefit of eliminating war, unhappiness and inefficiency. However, IT is aware of cruelty, referring to "ITself" as "the Happiest Sadist".

Secondary human characters

Dr. Alexander (Alex) Murry

Dr. Alexander (Alex) Murry is an astrophysicist, researching the mysteries of the space/time continuum, specifically five-dimensional means of travel between planets. He is also the father of Meg, Sandy, Dennys and Charles Wallace. He has been missing for some time as the novel opens. Not even his government colleagues know where he is. His first name is revealed in the fifth and last Time novel An Acceptable Time. In the television adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, he is renamed Jack. He first appears in a flashback in Chapter One.

Dr. Katherine (Kate) Murry

Dr. Kate Murry is a microbiologist, wife of Dr. Alexander Murry, and mother of the four Murry children. She is considered beautiful by the Murry children and others, having "flaming red hair" and violet eyes. Her physical attractiveness, academic and scientific accomplishments give Meg a bit of an inferiority complex. She is introduced in Chapter One, and usually referred to as Mrs. Murry. As in her husband's case, her first name is given in the subsequently published An Acceptable Time. The television version of her character is renamed Dana.

Alexander "Sandy" Murry

Sandy Murry and his twin brother Dennys are the middle children in the Murry family, older than Charles Wallace but younger than Meg. They are 10 years old at the time of this book. Sandy is named after his father, Dr. Alex Murry. Although they are certainly intelligent, Sandy and his twin are considered the "normal" children in the family: B students, good at sports, and well able to fit in with their peers. Of the twins, Sandy is generally the leader, and the more pragmatic of the two. He and Dennys first appear in Chapter Two.

Dionysus "Dennys" Murry

Dennys Murry is the twin of Sandy Murry. Dennys and his twin are usually inseparable, with Dennys generally following Sandy's lead. However, Dennys is slightly less skeptical than his brother about the strange theories and even stranger adventures of Meg and Charles Wallace. (Note: The name Dennys is a shortened version of "Dionysus",which is the name of a Greek god, but is pronounced the same way as the more common spelling Dennis.)

Supporting alien characters

The Happy Medium lives in a cavern on a planet in Orion's Belt. Human in appearance, she is described as wearing a satin gown and a silk turban, and uses a crystal ball to look at distant places and people. Her title comes from the character's jolly temperament, and her preference for looking at happy things.She helps Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace see The Black Thing through the crystal ball and understand what they are fighting against. She is introduced in chapter five. (The name "Happy Medium" is a pun alluding to the common expression for reaching an acceptable compromise: "to find a happy medium.")

Aunt Beast is a character who takes care of Meg on the planet Ixchel after Meg is "frozen" by the Black Thing. Introduced in chapter ten, the character has four arms, no eyes or mouth, and numerous long, waving tentacles instead of fingers. Tall, gray in color, sightless and telepathic, Aunt Beast has a motherly, nurturing attitude toward Meg. The name Aunt Beast is one that Meg and the alien come up with together, based on the character's perusal of Meg's mind. The character's actual name, if any, is not given.


Early scenes in the novel take place in and around an unnamed village, later established in An Acceptable Time as being in Connecticut. The nearly 200-year-old Murry farmhouse have parallels in the Austin family series of books and in L'Engle's own Connecticut home, Crosswicks.[5]

When Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace travel to other planets, the ones whose names are given include the following:

  • Camazotz – A planet of extreme, enforced conformity, ruled by a disembodied brain called IT. Camazotz is similar to Earth, with familiar trees such as birches, pines, and maples, an ordinary hill on which the children arrive, and a town with smokestacks, which "might have been one of any number of familiar towns". The horror of the place arises from its ordinary appearance, endlessly duplicated. Thus, the houses are "all exactly alike, small square boxes painted gray"; this characterization has been compared with "the burgeoning American suburbia"[6] such as the post-war housing developments of Levittown, Pennsylvania. The people who live in the houses are similarly described, with "mother figures" who "all gave the appearance of being the same". Camazotz has also been compared with "an early sixties American image of life in a Communist state", a characterization partially dismissed as too glib.[7] The name Camazotz refers to a Mayan bat god, one of L'Engle's many mythological allusions in her nomenclature.[8]
  • Ixchel – A planet of muted colors, inhabited by tall, sightless creatures with tentacles. It orbits the same sun as Camazotz. The name Ixchel refers to a Mayan jaguar goddess of medicine.[8]
  • Uriel – A planet with extremely tall mountains, an allusion to the Archangel Uriel. It is inhabited by creatures that resemble winged centaurs. It is the third planet of the Star Malak in the spiral nebula Messier 101. The site of Mrs.Whatsit's temporary transformation into one of these winged creatures, it is the place where "the guardian angels" (i.e. the Mrs.Ws, who are explicitly referred to as such by Calvin later in the book) "show the questers a vision of the universe that is obscured on earth."[9]

They also stop briefly on an unnamed two-dimensional planet and on an unnamed planet in Orion's belt, the latter of which is the home of the Happy Medium.

Major themes

Christian Perspectives

Madeleine L'Engle's fantasy works are in part highly expressive of her Christian viewpoint in a manner somewhat similar to that of Christian fantasy writer C.S. Lewis. She was herself the official writer-in-residence at New York City's Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which is known for its prominent position in the liberal wing of the Episcopal Church.[10] L'Engle's liberal Christianity has been the target of criticism from more conservative Christians, especially with respect to certain elements of A Wrinkle in Time.[11]

The novel contains several references to Biblical verses (in addition to quotes from various famous philosophers, poets, and playwrights). The most well-known of these is a quote from 1st Corinthians from which the book's final chapter derives its title. Mrs. Who advises Meg, "The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but 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...." —1 Corinthians 1:25–28

Another major Biblical reference is the hymn of praise sung by the centaur-like beings on the planet Uriel which translates to a very close paraphrase of lines from Isaiah and the Psalms ""Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein;" Similarly, the alien that Meg calls 'Aunt Beast' quotes a line (without attribution) from Paul's Epistle to the Romans concerning being called and justified according to God's purpose, another line from the same is earlier cited by Meg's father.

The theme of picturing the fight of good against evil as a battle of light and darkness is a recurring one. It is manner reminiscent of the prologue to the Gospel of John which is also quoted once. When the "Mrs. Ws" reveal their secret roles in the cosmic fight against "the darkness" they ask the children to name some figures on Earth (a partially dark planet) who fight the darkness. They name Jesus, and later in the discussion Buddha is named as well, along with various creative artists and philanthropists. The three women are described as ancient star-beings who act as guardian angels.[9]

This novel is on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000 at number 22.[12] Reasons given include the book's references to witches and crystal balls[13] (although the characters are not in fact witches, and the crystal ball is a science fictional one), the claim that it "challenges religious beliefs"[14], and the listing of Jesus "with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders".[15]


The book was written between 1959 and 1960.[16] L'Engle has written repeatedly about the writing of the story and the long struggle to get it published. In A Circle of Quiet (1972, ISBN 0-374-12374-8), she explains that the book was conceived "during a time of transition". After years of living at Crosswicks and running a general store, L'Engle's family, the Franklins, moved back to New York City, first taking a ten-week camping trip across the country and back again. L'Engle writes that "we drove through a world of deserts and buttes and leafless mountains, wholly new and alien to me. And suddenly into my mind came the names, Mrs.Whatsit. Mrs.Who. Mrs.Which."[5] This was in the Spring of 1959. L'Engle was reading about quantum physics at the time, which also made its way into the story. However, when she completed the book in early 1960, it was rejected by at least 26 publishers, because it was, in L'Engle's words, "too different", and "because it deals overtly with the problem of evil, and it was too difficult for children, and was it a children's or an adults' book, anyhow?"[2][5]

In "A Special Message from Madeleine L'Engle" on the Random House website, L'Engle explains another possible reason for the rejections: "A Wrinkle in Time had a female protagonist in a science fiction book," which at the time "wasn't done" according to L'Engle. After trying "forty-odd" publishers (L'Engle later said "twenty-six rejections"), L'Engle's agent returned the manuscript to her. Then at Christmas, L'Engle threw a tea party for her mother. One of the guests happened to know John Farrar of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and insisted that L'Engle should meet with him. Although the publisher did not at the time publish a line of children's books, Farrar met L'Engle, liked the novel and ultimately published it.[17]

The book has been continuously in print since its first publication. The hardback edition is still published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. The original blue dust jacket by Ellen Raskin was replaced with new art by Leo and Diane Dillon with the publication of A Swiftly Tilting Planet in 1978. The book has also been published in a twenty-fifth anniversary collectors' edition (limited to 500 signed and numbered copies), at least two book club editions (one hardback, one Scholastic Book Services paperback), as a trade paperback under the Dell Yearling imprint, and as a mass market paperback under the Dell Laurel-Leaf imprint. The cover art on the paperback editions has changed several times since first publication.

The book was reissued by Square Fish in trade and mass market paperback formats in May 2007, along with the rest of the Time Quartet. This new edition includes a previously unpublished interview with L'Engle as well as the text of her Newbery Medal acceptance speech.[18]

Other books in the series

L'Engle has written three other books featuring this generation of the Murry family, collectively known as the Time Quartet. Listed in order of the internal chronology of the series, they are:

Note that although Many Waters was published approximately eight years after A Swiftly Tilting Planet, it takes place several years earlier, when Sandy and Dennys are in high school and Meg is in college.

Four further novels have been published that feature Meg and Calvin's children, especially Polly O'Keefe. The most recent of these, An Acceptable Time (1989, ISBN 0-374-30027-5) features Meg's parents, and is marketed with the four Murry books as part of the Time Quintet; Sandy Murry appears prominently in A House Like a Lotus, which features Polly O'Keefe. Nearly every novel by Madeleine L'Engle connects to the Murry-O'Keefe series either directly or indirectly due to appearances by recurring characters. See also: List of L'Engle's works and Major characters in the works of Madeleine L'Engle for further detail.

Concerning A Wrinkle in Time

  • Scholastic BookFiles: A Reading Guide to A Wrinkle in Time ISBN 0-439-46364-5
  • Chase, Carole F. Suncatcher: A Study of Madeleine L'Engle and Her Writing, p. 170. Innisfree Press, 1998, ISBN 1-880913-31-3

Audio book

An unabridged four cassette audio edition, read by the author, was released in 1994 by Listening Library, ISBN 0-8072-7587-5.

Television movie

In 2003, a television adaptation of the novel was made by Disney. The movie was directed by John Kent Harrison, and the teleplay was written by Susan Shilliday. Among the many differences between the book and the movie are different first names for Meg's parents and a more contemporary and attractive look for Meg, with neither glasses nor braces. More significantly, religious elements of the novel are largely omitted. For example, the name of Jesus is not mentioned as one who fought against evil; and when Mrs.Whatsit asks Charles Wallace to translate the song of the centaur-like creatures on Uriel, he simply says "it's about joy". In an interview with Newsweek, when L'Engle was asked if the film "met her expectations" she said, "Yes, I expected it to be bad, and it is."[19] The film was subsequently released on DVD. The special features included a "very rare" interview with Madeleine L'Engle, discussing the novel.

The tesseract concept

In the novel the concept of a tesseract functions more or less like what in modern science-fiction is called a space warp or a wormhole, a portal from one area of space to another which is possible through the bending of the structure of the space-time continuum. A similar concept occurs in Frank Herbert's Dune novel where it is called the Holzman effect. However, in formal math, a tesseract is a four-dimensional structure similar to a three-dimensional cube, or a two-dimensional square. Such a structure simply presupposes four dimensions of space, but implies nothing about bending the structure of space.


  1. ^ L'Engle, Madeleine (1993). The Rock That Is Higher: Story As Truth. Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Publishers. pp. 223. ISBN 0-87788-726-8. .
  2. ^ a b L'Engle, Madeleine (2007). "Go Fish: Questions for the Author", A Wrinkle in Time. New York: Square fish. pp. 236. ISBN 0-312-36754-6. 
  3. ^ Chase, Carole F. (1998). Suncatcher: A Study of Madeleine L'Engle And Her Writing. Philadelphia: Innisfree Press, Inc.. pp. 170. ISBN 1-880913-31-3. 
  4. ^ A Wrinkle in Time, chapter two
  5. ^ a b c L'Engle, Madeleine (1972). A Circle of Quiet. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. pp. 5–6, 21, 66, 217–218. ISBN 0-374-12374-8. 
  6. ^ Hettinga, Donald R. (1993). Presenting Madeleine L'Engle. New York: Twayne Publishers. pp. 27. ISBN 0-8057-8222-2. 
  7. ^ Blackburn, William (1985), ""Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time: Seeking the Original Face"", Touchstones: Reflections on the Best in Children's Literature Vol. 1: 125 ; cited in Hettinga, pp. 27.
  8. ^ a b Stott, Jon (Fall), ""Midsummer Night's Dreams: Fantasy and Self-Realization in Children's Fiction"", The Lion and the Unicorn Vol. 1 (No. 2): 25–39 ; cited in Hettinga, pp. 27, 30.
  9. ^ a b Hettinga, p. 26
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ "The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000". Banned Books Week. American Library Association. 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  13. ^ Matheson, Whitney (2007). "Some of the best books in life are ... banned?". Pop Candy. USA Today. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  14. ^ "Why Were These Books Banned?". Library - Faculty Services. Val A. Browning Library, Dixie State College of Utah. 2001. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  15. ^ "A Wrinkle In Time". banned books project. 2003-09-21. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  16. ^ L'Engle, Madeleine (1987). A Wrinkle in Time, 25th Anniversary Collectors' Edition. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. pp. viii-ix. Limited ed.. 
  17. ^ L'Engle, Madeleine (2004). "A Special Message from Madeleine L'Engle". Teachers @ Random: A Wrinkle in Time. Random House, Inc.. Retrieved 2007-01-01. 
  18. ^ "It's Time to Read A Wrinkle in Time". Square Fish Books. 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-01. 
  19. ^ Henneberger, Melinda (2003-05-07). "‘I Dare You’: Madeleine L’Engle on God, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and aging well". Newsweek ( Retrieved 2007-05-27. 

External links

Preceded by
The Bronze Bow
Newbery Medal recipient
Succeeded by
It's Like This, Cat


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Madeleine L'Engle article)

From Wikiquote

We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is...

Madeleine L'Engle (1918-11-292007-09-06), born Madeleine L'Engle Camp, was an American writer and poet best known for her children's books, including the Newbery Medal-winning winning A Wrinkle in Time.



It is so great a thing to be an infinitesimal part
of this immeasurable orchestra the music bursts the heart,
And from this tiny plosion all the fragments join:
Joy orders the disunity until the song is one.
  • I endeavor
    To hold the I as one only for the cloud
    Of which I am a fragment, yet to which I'm vowed
    To be responsible.
    Its light against my face
    Reveals the witness of the stars, each in its place
    Singing, each compassed by the rest,
    The many joined to one, the mightiest to the least.
    It is so great a thing to be an infinitesimal part
    of this immeasurable orchestra the music bursts the heart,
    And from this tiny plosion all the fragments join:
    Joy orders the disunity until the song is one.
    • "Instruments" in The Weather of the Heart (1978)
  • We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes…
    • The Rock That is Higher: Story as Truth (1993)
  • All will be redeemed in God's fullness of time, all, not just the small portion of the population who have been given the grace to know and accept Christ. All the strayed and stolen sheep. All the little lost ones.
    • As quoted in If Grace Is True : Why God Will Save Every Person (2003) by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland, p. 223. Originally from A Stone for a Pillow
  • Poetry, at least the kind I write, is written out of immediate need; it is written out of pain, joy, and experience too great to be borne until it is ordered into words. And then it is written to be shared.
    • The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L'Engle (2005)

A Wrinkle in Time (1962)

Speaking of ways, pet, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.
  • Speaking of ways, pet, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.
    • Mrs Whatsit, Ch. 1
Just because we don't understand doesn't mean that the explanation doesn't exist.
  • Just because we don't understand doesn't mean that the explanation doesn't exist.
  • Suddenly there was a great burst of light through the Darkness. The light spread out and where it touched the Darkness the Darkness disappeared. The light spread until the patch of Dark Thing had vanished, and there was only a gentle shining, and through the shining came the stars, clear and pure.
  • As the skipping rope hit the pavement, so did the ball. As the rope curved over the head of the jumping child, the child with the ball caught the ball. Down came the ropes. Down came the balls. Over and over again. Up. Down. All in rhythm. All identical. Like the houses. Like the paths. Like the flowers
  • You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.
  • Alike and Equal are not the same.
  • Hate was nothing that IT didn't have. IT knew all about hate.
  • Suddenly she knew. She knew! Love. That was what she had that IT did not have. She had Mrs. Whatsit's love, and her father's, and mother's, and the real Charles Wallace's love, and the twins', and Aunt Beast's. And she had her love for them. But how could she use it? What was she meant to do?

The Crosswicks Journal

A Circle of Quiet (1972)

The medieval mystics say the true image and the true real met once and for all on the cross: once and for all: and yet they still meet daily.
  • The concentration of a small child at play is analogous to the concentration of the artist of any discipline. In real play, which is real concentration, the child is not only outside time, he is outside himself. He has thrown himself completely into whatever it is he is doing. A child playing a game, building a sand castle, painting a picture, is completely in what he is doing. His self-consciousness is gone; his consciousness is wholly focused outside himself.
    • Section 1.3
  • When we are self-conscious, we cannot be wholly aware; we must throw ourselves out first. This throwing ourselves away is the act of creativity. So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating. We not only escape time, we escape our self-conscious selves.
    • Section 1.3
  • The medieval mystics say the true image and the true real met once and for all on the cross: once and for all: and yet they still meet daily.
    • Section 1.5
  • My husband is my most ruthless critic. ... Sometimes he will say, "It's been said better before." Of course. It's all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anyone else, I'd never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said; by me; ontologically. We each have to say it, to say it in our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes through us. Good or bad, great or little: that isn't what human creation is about. It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die.
    • Section 1.9
We do have to use our minds as far as they will take us, yet acknowledging that they cannot take us all the way.
  • Here we are living in a world of "identity crises," and most of us have no idea what an identity is.
    Half the problem is that an identity is something which must be understood intuitively, rather than in terms of provable fact. An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy.
    • Section 1.10
We do not go around and discard the intellect, but we must go through and beyond it.
  • We do have to use our minds as far as they will take us, yet acknowledging that they cannot take us all the way.
    We can give a child a self-image. But is this a good idea? Hitler did a devastating job at that kind of thing. So does Chairman Mao. ... I haven't defined a self, nor do I want to. A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.
    • Section 1.10
  • I think that all artists, regardless of degree of talent, are a painful, paradoxical combination of certainty and uncertainty, of arrogance and humility, constantly in need of reassurance, and yet with a stubborn streak of faith in their own validity no matter what.
    • Section 1.14
  • The rational intellect doesn't have a great deal to do with love, and it doesn't have a great deal to do with art. I am often, in my writing, great leaps ahead of where I am in my thinking, and my thinking has to work its way slowly up to what the "superconscious" has already shown me in a story or poem.
    • Section 1.14
  • It is all, as usual, paradox. I have to use what intellect I have in order to write books, but I write the kind of books I do in order that I may try to set down glimpses of things that are on the other side of the intellect. We do not go around and discard the intellect, but we must go through and beyond it.
    • Section 1.16
  • How do we teach a child — our own, or those in a classroom — to have compassion: to allow people to be different; to understand that like is not equal; to experiment; to laugh; to love; to accept the fact that the most important questions a human being can ask do not have — or need — answers.
    • Section 1.16
  • Love can't be pinned down by a definition, and it certainly can't be proved, anymore than anything else important in life can be proved.
    • Section 1.16
  • When a child who has been conceived in love is born to a man and a woman, the joy of that birth sings throughout the universe. The joy of writing or painting is much the same, and the insemination comes not from the artist himself but from his relationship with those he loves, with the whole world.
    All real art is, in its true sense, religious; it is a religious impulse; there is not such thing as a non-religious subject.
    • Section 1.16
Nothing important is completely explicable.
  • Detachment and involvement: the artist must have both. The link between them is compassion. It has taken me over fifty years to get a glimmer of what this means.
    • Section 1.16
  • We do live, all of us, on many different levels, and for most artists the world of imagination is more real than the world of the kitchen sink.
    • Section 2.2
  • It isn't always the middle-aged who refuse to listen, who will not even try to understand another point of view. One boy would not get it through his head that for all adults God is not an old man in a white beard sitting on a cloud. As far as this boy was concerned, this old gentleman was the adult's god, and therefore he did not believe in God.
    • Section 2.5
  • Nothing important is completely explicable.
    • Section 3.9
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not understand it, and cannot extinguish it...
  • The uncommon man has done the impossible and there has been that much more light in the world because of it. Children respond to heroes by thinking creatively and sometimes in breaking beyond the bounds of the impossible in their turn, and so becoming heroes themselves.
    • Section 3.13
  • St. John said, "And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not understand it, and cannot extinguish it ( I need the double meaning here of comprehend). This is the great cry of affirmation that is heard over and over again in our imaginative literature, in all art. It is a light to lighten our darkness, to guide us, and we do not need to know, in the realm of provable fact, exactly where it is going to take us.
    • Section 3.13
If I have something I want to say that is too difficult for adults to swallow, then I will write it in a book for children.
  • "Why do you write for children?" My immediate response to this question is, "I don't." ... If it's not good enough for adults, it's not good enough for children. If a book that is going to be marketed for children does not interest me, a grownup, then I am dishonoring the children for whom the book is intended, and I am dishonoring books. And words.
    Sometimes I answer that if I have something I want to say that is too difficult for adults to swallow, then I will write it in a book for children. This is usually good for a slightly startled laugh, but it's perfectly true. Children still haven't closed themselves off with fear of the unknown, fear of revolution, or the scramble for security. They are still familiar with the inborn vocabulary of myth. It was adults who thought that children would be afraid of the Dark Thing in Wrinkle, not children, who understand the need to see thingness, non-ness, and to fight it.
    • Section 4.4
  • A great piece of literature does not try to coerce you to believe it or agree with it. A great piece of literature simply is.
    It is a vehicle of truth, but it is not a blueprint, and we tend to confuse the two.
    • Section 4.5
All forms of art are consciousness expanders, and I am convinced that they will take us further, and more consciously, than drugs.
  • What can we give a child when there is nothing left?
    All we have, I think, is the truth, the truth that will set him free, not limited, provable truth, but the open, growing, evolving truth that is not afraid.
    • Section 4.6
  • I wish that we worried more about asking the right questions instead of being so hung up on finding answers. I don't need to know the difference between a children's book and an adult one; it's the questions that have come from thinking about it that are important. I wish we'd stop finding answers for everything. One of the reasons my generation has mucked up the world to such an extent is our loss of the sense of the mysterious.
    • Section 4.8
  • I wrote, after an early rejection, "X turned down Wrinkle, turned it down with one hand while saying that he loved it, but didn't quite dare to do it, as it really isn't classifiable. I know it isn't really classifiable, and am wondering if i'll have to go through the usual hell with this that I seem to go through with everything I write. But this book I'm sure of. If I've ever written a book that says how I feel about God and the universe, this is it. This is my psalm of praise...
    • Section 4.10
In kairos that part of us which is not consumed in the burning is wholly awake.
  • All forms of art are consciousness expanders, and I am convinced that they will take us further, and more consciously, than drugs.
    • Section 4.14
  • Chronology, the time which changes things, makes them grow older, wears them out, and manages to dispose of them, chronologically, forever.
    Thank God there is kairos too: again the Greeks were wiser than we are. They had two words for time: chronos and kairos.
    Kairos is not measurable. Kairos is ontological. In kairos we are, we are fully in isness, not negatively, as Sartre saw the isness of the oak tree, but fully, wholly, positively. Kairos can sometimes enter, penetrate, break through chronos: the child at play, the painter at his easel, Serkin playing the Appassionata are in kairos. The saint in prayer, friends around the dinner table, the mother reaching out her arms for her newborn baby are in kairos. The bush, the burning bush, is in kairos, not any burning bush, but the particular burning bush before which Moses removed his shoes; the bush I pass by on my way to the brook. In kairos that part of us which is not consumed in the burning is wholly awake.
    • Section 4.21
After the glory which could be seen with human eyes, he began to see the glory which is beyond and after light.
  • Gregory of Nyssa points out that Moses's vision of God began with the light, with the visible burning bush, the bush which was bright with fire and was not consumed; but afterwards, God spoke to him in a cloud. After the glory which could be seen with human eyes, he began to see the glory which is beyond and after light.
    The shadows are deepening all around us. Now is the time when we must begin to see our world and ourselves in a different way.
    • Section 4.22

The Irrational Season (1977)

A comprehensible God is no more than an idol.
  • My protagonists, male and female, are me. And so I must be able to recall exactly what it was like to be five years old, and twelve, and sixteen, and twenty-two, and. . . . For, after all, I am not an isolated fifty-seven years old; I am every other age I have been, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven . . . all the way up to and occasionally beyond my present chronology.
  • We rebel against the impossible. I sense a wish in some professional religion-mongers to make God possible, to make him comprehensible to the naked intellect, domesticate him so that he's easy to believe in. Every century the Church makes a fresh attempt to make Christianity acceptable. But an acceptable Christianity is not Christian; a comprehensible God is no more than an idol.
  • If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather, it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation.
  • When a promise is broken, the promise still remains. In one way or another, we are all unfaithful to each other, and physical unfaithfulness is not the worst kind there is.
  • If our love for each other really is participatory, then all other human relationships nourish it; it is inclusive, never exclusive. If a friendship makes me love Hugh more, then I can trust that friendship. If it thrusts itself between us, then it should be cut out, and quickly.
  • No long-term marriage is made easily, and there have been times when I've been so angry or so hurt that I thought my love would never recover. And then, in the midst of near despair, something has happened beneath the surface. A bright little flashing fish of hope has flicked silver fins and the water is bright and suddenly I am returned to a state of love again — till next time. I've learned that there will always be a next time, and that I will submerge in darkness and misery, but that I won't stay submerged. And each time something has been learned under the waters; something has been gained; and a new kind of love has grown. The best I can ask for is that this love, which has been built on countless failures, will continue to grow. I can say no more than that this is mystery, and gift, and that somehow or other, through grace, our failures can be redeemed and blessed.
The entire purpose of loving punishment is to teach, and it lasts only as long as is needed for the lesson. And the lesson is always love.
  • My young friend who was taught that she was so sinful the only way an angry God could be persuaded to forgive her was by Jesus dying for her, was also taught that part of the joy of the blessed in heaven is watching the torture of the damned in hell. A strange idea of joy. But it is a belief limited not only to the more rigid sects. I know a number of highly sensitive and intelligent people in my own communion who consider as a heresy my faith that God's loving concern for his creation will outlast all our willfulness and pride. No matter how many eons it takes, he will not rest until all of creation, including Satan, is reconciled to him, until there is no creature who cannot return his look of love with a joyful response of love... Origen held this belief and was ultimately pronounced a heretic. Gregory of Nyssa, affirming the same loving God, was made a saint. Some people feel it to be heresy because it appears to deny man his freedom to refuse to love God. But this, it seems to me, denies God his freedom to go on loving us beyond all our willfulness and pride. If the Word of God is the light of the world, and this light cannot be put out, ultimately it will brighten all the dark corners of our hearts and we will be able to see, and seeing, will be given the grace to respond with love — and of our own free will.
  • I cannot believe that God wants punishment to go on interminably any more than does a loving parent. The entire purpose of loving punishment is to teach, and it lasts only as long as is needed for the lesson. And the lesson is always love.
Fantasy contains truths which cannot be stated in terms of proof.
  • If our usual response to an annoying situation is a curse, we're likely to meet emergencies with a curse. In the little events of daily living we have the opportunity to condition our reflexes, which are built up out of ordinary things. And we learn to bless first of all by being blessed. My reflexes of blessing have been conditioned by my parents, my husband, my children, my friends
  • I am convinced that each work of art, be it a great work of genius or something very small, has its own life, and it will come to the artist, the composer or the writer or the painter, and say, "Here I am: compose me; or write me; or paint me"; and the job of the artist is to serve the work. I have never served a work as I would like to, but I do try, with each book, to serve to the best of my ability, and this attempt at serving is the greatest privilege and the greatest joy that I know.
  • One of our children when he was two or three years old used to rush at me when he had been naughty, and beat against me, and what he wanted by this monstrous behavior was an affirmation of love. And I would put my arms around him and hold him very tight until the dragon was gone and the loving small boy had returned.
  • One reason nearly half my books are for children is the glorious fact that the minds of children are still open to the living word; in the child, nightside and sunside are not yet separated; fantasy contains truths which cannot be stated in terms of proof.

Walking on Water (1980)

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
  • It has often struck me with awe that some of the most deeply religious people I know have been, on the surface, atheists.

A Ring of Endless Light (1980)

  • Maybe you have to know darkness before you can appreciate the light.

Penguins and Golden Calves (2003)

There's more to life than just the things that can be explained by encyclopedias and facts. Facts alone are not adequate.
Penguins and Golden Calves : Icons and Idols in Antarctica and Other Unexpected Places
  • I wrote because I wanted to know what everything was about. My father, before I was born, had been gassed in the first World War, and I wanted to know why there were wars, why people hurt each other, why we couldn't get along together, and what made people tick. That's why I started to write stories.
  • There's more to life than just the things that can be explained by encyclopedias and facts. Facts alone are not adequate.
  • I really enjoy good murder mystery writers, usually women, frequently English, because they have a sense of what the human soul is about and why people do dark and terrible things. I also read quite a lot in the area of particle physics and quantum mechanics, because this is theology. This is about the nature of being. This is what life is all about. I try to read as widely as I possibly can.
  • I wrote A Wrinkle in Time when we were living in a small dairy farm village in New England. I had three small children to raise, and life was not easy. We lost four of our closest friends within two years by death — that's a lot of death statistically. And I really wasn't finding the answers to my big questions in the logical places. So, at the time I discovered the world of particle physics. I discovered Einstein and relativity. I read a book of Einstein's, in which he said that anyone who's not lost in rapturous awe at the power and glory of the mind behind the universe is as good as a burnt-out candle. And I thought, "Oh, I've found my theologian, what a wonderful thing."
  • A Wrinkle in Time was almost never published. You can't name a major publisher who didn't reject it. And there were many reasons. One was that it was supposedly too hard for children. Well, my children were 7, 10, and 12 while I was writing it. I'd read to them at night what I'd written during the day, and they'd say, "Ooh, mother, go back to the typewriter!" A Wrinkle in Time had a female protagonist in a science fiction book, and that wasn't done. And it dealt with evil and things that you don't find, or didn't at that time, in children's books. When we'd run through forty-odd publishers, my agent sent it back. We gave up. Then my mother was visiting for Christmas, and I gave her a tea party for some of her old friends. One of them happened to belong to a small writing group run by John Farrar, of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, which at that time did not have a juvenile list. She insisted that I meet John any how, and I went down with my battered manuscript. John had read my first novel and liked it, and read this book and loved it. That's how it happened.
  • Kids don't hesitate to ask questions. And it's a great honor to have the kids say, "Your books have made me trust you."
  • I have advice for people who want to write. I don't care whether they're 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can't be a writer if you're not a reader. It's the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it's for only half an hour — write, write, write.

Newsweek interview (2004)

"'I Dare You' : Madeleine L’Engle on God, The Da Vinci Code and aging well", an interview with Melinda Henneberger, Newsweek (7 May 2004)
  • I sometimes think God is a s--t — and he wouldn't be worth it otherwise. He's much more interesting when he's a s--t.
  • It takes a lot of intellect to have faith, which is why so many people only have religiosity.... I'm against people taking the Bible absolutely literally, rather than letting some of it be real fantasy, like Jonah... Faith is best expressed in story.
  • Henneberger: If the Bible is not literally true, does that mean we don’t need to take it seriously?
    L'Engle: Oh no, you do, because it’s truth, not fact, and you have to take truth seriously even when it expands beyond the facts.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address