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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Remembering Madeleine L'Engle

From a variety of US sources ( her death has not reachedthe UK papers yet), I have discovered that Newberry award winning author Madeleine L'Engle has died. She is probably best known for A Wrinkle in Time, but she wrote many other young adult and adult books. Her books combined a good story, faith and heavy dollop of science. She did not talk down to her readers but expected them to be able to grasp some of complicated notions of space, time and the cutting edge science. In her books, it was okay to be intelligent and to feel out of place. I can remember identifying with Meg and her feelings of just wanting to be normal. I also remember for some reason with that book, I suddenly became aware that the British spelt things differently. And I first learnt that books could be rejected many times and still be accepted. A lesson that I think I held close to my heart for many years.
I read her books as a child and later in my late teens when I discovered her non fiction. I can not remember the names of the books, but I can remember -- thinking -- ah this makes sense. She had gentle humour that I found appealing.
When I was at university, she came and spoke. It was one of those convocations that I made sure I attended, rather than finding something else to do. And it was that lingers in my memory. She was an excellent speaker. I can still remember her words -- the trouble with fanatics was that they had no sense of humour about their obsession. And in her view it applied not only to the hijackers of planes but also to her grandson who was devoted to his hockey team. There was much more to the lecture but those few words struck a note with me.
One of the wonderful thing about writers is that their words live on. People can go and revisit. I know all of my children have read the A Wrinkle in Time sequence and enjoyed it. And I confidently expect future generations to discover her and enjoy her. I know I am glad I read her books.

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