Friday, September 07, 2007

RIP Madeline L'Engle

Author Madeleine L'Engle Dies at 88

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Author Madeleine L'Engle, whose novel "A Wrinkle in Time" has been enjoyed by generations of schoolchildren and adults since the 1960s, has died, her publicist said Friday. She was 88.

L'Engle died Thursday at a nursing home in Litchfield of natural causes, according to Jennifer Doerr, publicity manager for publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

The Newbery Medal winner wrote more than 60 books, including fantasies, poetry and memoirs, often highlighting spiritual themes and her Christian faith.

Although L'Engle was often labeled a children's author, she disliked that classification. In a 1993 Associated Press interview, she said she did not write down to children.

"In my dreams, I never have an age," she said. "I never write for any age group in mind. When people do, they tend to be tolerant and condescending and they don't write as well as they can write. "When you underestimate your audience, you're cutting yourself off from your best work."

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.


Anonymous said...

There are not many public figures whose death announcements will make me burst into tears. I discovered a few minutes ago that Madeleine L'Engle is at the top of that short list.

I didn't read her books as a child. I grew up in a religious environment that would be charitably described as suspicious, and A Wrinkle in Time must have thrown every red flag onto the field for the elders of my church. So I was an adult, and profoundly, deeply anti-religious when first I encountered the McMurray clan, the tesseract, the Thing, and the triumph of love.

In tracing my own spiritual development, it is clear in retrospect that many small fractures contributed, over many years, to the ultimate crumbling of the wall I had constructed as a young adult between myself and the Holy One; I believe that reading the "Time" trilogy created a first, significant crack in that wall for me. When I found my own authentic faith as an adult, I went back and re-read these books, and added others - all the books about the Austins, some stand-alone novels that Ms. L'Engle wrote early in her career - and I was enriched and enlarged by each.

I didn't read the three volumes of the Crosswicks Journals for a long time. When I did, I found a companion whose foibles, personal struggles, and deep joys were not the same as my own, but in which I could recognize my own. Above all, I found a fellow pilgrim, who loved God passionately and just as passionately got angry with God; I found a description of a long-term relationship with God, characterized by mutual love and respect, and the occasional total bafflement that told me this was a real, not idealized, relationship.

Perhaps most valuable to me was the fact that Madeleine wrote as passionately about her husband, her children, her house, her illnesses, her mother's dementia, her dogs, and the rock where she watched the stars at night, as she did about God. She affirmed for millions of readers that loving God was not the opposite of loving real, physical, earthy life; loving God meant loving the Creator of all that is wonderful, tragic, beautiful, tasty, muscular, delightful, challenging, demanding, peaceful, nourishing - all that makes our lives what they are. I don't know if, when I first read Madeleine's autobiographical works, that I understood what was meant by an "incarnational faith", but her writing made it clear to me that we find God and relationship with God within the ordinary, in our relationships with friends, family, spouses, strangers, animals - and we find God in the astonishing array of Creation, big and small, things seen and unseen.

I have known for a few years that Madeleine was not well, and anticipated that the news of her death would come sooner rather than later. I knew that she was not going to write any more books. I remembered occasionally over these past few years to give thanks for her, and the unique gifts she gave, and her bravery in giving them. Still: my tears today underscore my feeling that I have lost a friend.

May God receive her joyously; may her rest be deep and real; may light perpetual shine upon her. Thank God for Madeleine. Receive her, Holy One, into her bright home.
-Kay Sylvester


OK ... now you've made ME cry!

Thank you for this moving tribute to a MOST extraordinary woman!

Gerti Reagan Garner said...

Kay very eloquently describes the same sense of loss that I felt yesterday when I read Madeleine died. I read a Wrinkle in Time in grade school; loved it and moved on. Years later, I discovered she had written many more books. After that Madeleine L'Engle became a continuing companion in my heart. I had the privelege of hearing her speak and preach. The only time I have ever stood in line for a book signing was when she was signing The Glorious Impossible. Her greatest gift to me is that my daughter, Rebecca, and I share a love of her books. She has joined the heavenly chorus; I am grateful for her life and sad that she is no longer present in this world.