A Wrinkle in time Madeleine L’ENGLE
What is it? A Wrinkle In Timeis a science fiction fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle. Originally published in 1962, it was the first in a series of five novels that came to be known as the Time Quintet. Think of it as a forefather to the Hunger Games trilogy and the Harry Potter series. The book quickly became a classic American children’s novel, winning the prestigious Newberry Medal, an award given to books that are deemed "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” of any given year.
Madeleine L’Engle Camp was born in New York City on November 29, 1918. She wrote her first story at the age of five, and started keeping a regular journal by the age of eight. Despite her love of reading and writing, her private school teachers thought she was stupid because she was shy and clumsy. Because of this, she retreated deeper into her own little world of books and writing. Moving around a lot as a child, including stays in the French Alps and Switzerland, she attended numerous boarding schools before going to Smith College in Massachusetts, graduating with honors in 1941. She published her first novel, The Small Rain, in 1945, and married Hugh Franklin the following year. They had two children together, and adopted a third. Madeleine L’Engle
After receiving a series of rejection letters, L’Engle was determined to give up writing by her 40th birthday in November 1958. She found, however, that she couldn’t give up the writing, as she was even working on fiction subconsciously! Her family returned to New York City in 1959 so that her husband Hugh could resume his acting career. The move was immediately preceded by a ten-week cross-country camping trip, during which L'Engle first had the idea for her most famous novel, A Wrinkle In Time. She completed writing it in 1960, and started shopping it to publishers. The novel was rejected more than THIRTY TIMES before she eventually got it into the hands of publisher John C. Farrar… the rest is history! Madeleine L’Engle November 1918 – September 2007
Social Context of the Story It was difficult for L’Engle to find a publisher for A Wrinkle In Time because it wasn’t necessarily a children’s book or an adult book. It was also a science fiction fantasy story with a female protagonist — this was back before KatnissEverdeen, after all — and teenage girls weren’t expected to be heroes. Like Where the Red Fern Grows, the author touches upon themes of religion. Madeleine L’Engle, who was a devout Protestant, alienated conservative Christians, and many banned A Wrinkle In Time from being read or taught in their schools. (During the 1990s, it was frequently challenged and topped lists of banned books.) The book reflects L’Engle’s struggles with Christian theology, and showcases her strong belief in the values of family love and moral responsibility. It also focuses on the theme of good versus evil. Parallels are frequently drawn between the Time Quintet and C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia — another fantasy series that involves traveling to other places, and is also infused with religious themes.
Historical Context of the Story Historically, the book was written during the late 1950’s, a time when the United States was in the midst of expansion. There was the baby boom — a huge jump in population — and family life took center stage after the Great Depression of the 1930’s and the World War II-dominated 1940’s.
Historical Context of the Story The United States was also in the middle of the Cold War, where there was a great fear of the unknown. Despite being our allies in World War II, the Soviet Union became our enemies as they represented the threat of communism, a political ideology that spread throughout Europe and was a threat to the American way of life — especially as they worked to build atomic weapons. Dark forces abounded in society at that time, as they do in the novel. The early 1960’s were also a time of scientific and technological growth, as President John F. Kennedy declared his intention to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. This desire to investigate the great unknown of space was compounded with our desire to beat the Soviet Union to the moon, and the decade was filled with what was called the Space Race.
What is science fiction? • Science fiction is a genre that deals with imaginative concepts involving futuristic settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, parallel and alternative universes, and alien life. • Some science fiction is written with attention to remaining realistic, taking care to think about what science and technology will be possible in the future by remaining true to what we know of science. This is “speculative” science fiction – speculating about what could be possible in the future. • Science fiction fantasy, as this novel is, requires a suspension of disbelief — being able to believe in things that are not realistic, including imaginary worlds and creatures.
Time Travel • Time travel is a concept that shows up frequently in science fiction. It involves the idea that people are able to move backwards and forwards between different points in time, just like you could travel between different points in physical space. • The vehicle or device that allows for someone to travel through time is a “time machine” – such as a DeLorean or police box. • Time travel opens up the possibility of alternate timelines, which come about after the time traveler does something to change the past, altering what is in the present time. • Time travel can lead to temporal paradoxes and all sorts of things that will make your brain hurt!
Some Time Travel In Fiction… The Doctor Who Series The Back To The Future Trilogy H.G. Wells’ book The Time Machine
Our Perception of Time – LinearMoving in one direction in this dimension/universe! The Future - Hasn’t Happened Yet The Past - Has Already Happened The Present - Happening Now
Tesseract • The time travel in the book is produced by an object called a tesseract. In the book, the tesseract is a fifth-dimensional phenomenon explained as being similar to folding the fabric of space and time – hence, wrinkling time. • A tesseract is a real mathematical concept and shape, a cube within a cube, connected by spokes.
Tesseract • As explained in the novel, adding the fifth dimension to the “other four dimensions, you can travel through space without having to go the long way around.” Notice in the tesseract below how it bends and morphs — you wouldn’t have to go the long way around as in the previous model. • Nowadays, we would consider this to be a wormhole: a portal from one area of space and time to another, which is possible through bending the structure of the space-time continuum.