A Ring of Endless Light

A Ring of Endless Light

Madeleine L’Engle has passed away. Thursday, many of you may already have heard. I got my news from CNN Saturday, and her death was only a subtitle under the Entertainment heading, so I caught it by accident. When clicked on, the subtitle led to a 100 words or so that conveyed her death and mentioned A Wrinkle in Time.

Pavarotti’s funeral was the main story of the day, and I thought it fitting that a man who gave so much beauty to so many should be remembered and noticed in his passing.

But I also thought: Madeleine L’Engle. Madeleine L’Engle!!! Don’t the people who decide the top stories at CNN realize how important she was?

My entire reading history, and therefore my life, is richer and more vivid because of her books. I have often thought that no books seize you as an adult and charge your imagination quite the way the books you read as a child and teenager do. For me this means Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Sally Watson, Robin McKinley can still bring me intense pleasure even today just by seeing their names, much less picking up one of my old copies of their books. I see the cover of A Swiftly Tilting Planet and suddenly anything and everything is possible. I carry whole worlds inside of me, to waken at a word or the mention of a name, because of those authors.

Madeleine L’Engle. I feel as if Time should be doing a retrospective, that’s how vivid her touch on my life was.

Her elegant, graceful thought, her creative, vivid writing. Its “peculiar splendor”, as Marygail Parker described it so perfectly.

She lived a rich, long, good life, and that’s an amazing thing to do. So we’ll miss her, and I thank her for leaving her books behind.

Here’s a door for her. I don’t know what’s behind it, but it looks like a beautiful door to go through.


What, nephew, was the wind in that door? (Malory)

Is the wind in that door still? (Eliot)

  • I didn’t hear of it on the news at all, just through email lists. And everyone is mentioning her children’s books, but I like the “journals,” too. In fact, I think it’s time to re-read the one I have, Two-Part Invention, and search out more.

    I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time and reading about the mitochondria (they were mentioned in the first book, right? it’s been a while), and how excited I was to learn later that mitochondria are real, not just something an adult somewhere had made up. She used real details. She took us children seriously.

    September 10, 2007 at 12:48 pm
  • Alas, I came to Madeleine L’Engle late, as an adult. I read the stories out loud to William. But A Wrinkle in Time was no less amazing to me simply because I was far, far, FAR past the age of puberty when I first read it. I’m glad she left her books behind as well. You wrote a lovely tribute to her.

    I feel sort of the same way about the Pavarotti/L’Engle news coverage as I did about Princess Di and Mother Theresa. Yes, I loved Diana, apparently as the whole world did. But Mother Theresa, dying quietly in her shadow and getting just the a post script of the news coverage? It made me sad. Although I’m sure it didn’t bother Mother Theresa at all.

    September 10, 2007 at 5:55 pm
  • I just got A Wrinkle In Time at a yard sale. I haven’t read any of her works but have always heard of her…seems she had something to do with Victoria magazine…maybe they did an article about her or maybe she was a contributor.

    September 11, 2007 at 7:55 am
  • Yes, I remember when we studied mitochondria, too, Amy. I felt the same way–we were going to study mitochondria!! I wonder how many other children in my class recognized them from the same book?

    I think she might have been in Victoria at one point, Phyllis. I’m not sure. My sister used to subscribe, and it seems I may have seen an article on her in it.

    Thanks, Laume. I wanted to do something in her honor. And I remember the Princess Diana/Mother Teresa discrepancy, too. Not that I wanted Diana to be honored less, but…Mother Teresa! Did you read of this new book out with her letters? I have read some excerpts, it is fascinating, her long, dark night of the soul and how she dealt with it. I’m trying to remember the title.

    September 11, 2007 at 8:02 am

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