Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle, R.I.P.

C.S. Lewis, who fought in the Great War and lived through the Battle of Britain, likened the Christian life to a battle. While I love his writing, especially The Great Divorce and Out of the Silent Planet, I've always been troubled by his consistent use of the battle metaphor in both his fiction and his Christian apologetics. I wished there were a Christian writer whose heroes would triumph over evil without violence. While we have the examples of Martin Luther King, jr. and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, I was unable to find Christian fiction which reflected their spirit of Christianity.

That is, until I read A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle . Here the heroes and heroines fight evil with love. And her characters are complex, flawed human beings, who had real emotions. They were modern-day American children who had to deal with bullies, gossip, and the stigma of being different. While Wrinkle is a children's, or young-adult book, I first read it as an adult. In fact, I read it aloud to my daughters.

After Wrinkle, I had to read the sequel, A Wind in the Door. While I love all of her Kairos (appointed time) books, for me, Wind was special. Proginoskes, the "singular cherubim," Blajeny, the tall, black, humanlike being, who is a Teacher, and the microscopic world of the mitochondrion are simply unforgettable. Meg Murry, who is also the heroine of A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, must find something lovable in Mr. Jenkins, the unlovable school principal. And the Echthroi (from the Greek word for enemy) come as close to pure evil as anything I've read in fiction.

Madeleine L'Engle died last Thursday, at a nursing facility near her Connecticut home. May Proginoskes greet her at heaven's gate.


Sustenance Scout said...

I'm looking forward to introducing my girls to Madeleine L'Engle's books some day, too. K.

Two Dishes said...

"True that" on the overly combative CSL. Yer blowing my mind with the Out of the Great Silence reference. My friend lent me a copy of that one that he inherited from his dad, now a professor at Brown, complete with sentences that his dad had underlined. I lost interest in reading it once they landed on Mars but recall that the spaceship was improbably spacious. The descriptions of how bright the sunlight would be if viewed from the vacuum of space were vivid.

The book is so falling apart now that he loaned it to me in a Zip-Loc bag.