On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published a previously lost three-page passage of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 science fantasy book A wrinkle in time. L’Engle’s granddaughter, Charlotte Jones Voiklis, discovered the passage, which had been cut out before publication, in her grandmother’s version of the book.
This missing portion is unique and interesting in that it contains a more overtly political message than the rest of L’Engle’s book, warning against both totalitarianism and over-reliance on security in democracies.
A wrinkle in time follows a 13-year-old girl named Meg Murry, her brothers, and her boyfriend Calvin as they search for Meg’s father, a government scientist who disappeared while working on a secret experiment.
Traveling through space and time using what the book calls a “tesseract”, the kids discover Mr. Murry on a planet called Camazotz, where the inhabitants live under the control of a single spirit. Scholars have long thought that L’Engle was influenced by the Cold War, but in the newly published passage, the author seems to demonstrate a more modern, nuanced policy. The newly discovered passage should sound familiar to Ars readers who have been kept abreast of news of breaches by the National Security Agency and by federal and local governments. The Wall Street Journal describes the discovered text:
As Meg’s father massages her limbs, which are frozen from a shocking journey through space and time, she asks, “But father, how did the Black Thing – how did it capture Camazotz?” Her father then lays out the political philosophy behind the book in much sharper terms than is apparent in the final version.
He says that totalitarianism can indeed lead to this kind of evil. (The author cites examples by name, including Hitler, Mussolini, and Khrushchev.) But it can also happen in a democracy that places too much value on security, says Murry. “Security is something very seductive,” he tells his daughter. “I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the greatest evil there is.”
Many children had their first exposure to the science fantasy genre through reading A wrinkle in time as well as the four subsequent books by L’Engle from which the Time Quintet. The book has been around for generations and a movie adaptation for Disney is currently being worked on.
The Wall Street Journal asked literary scholars to look at the passage and they agreed that the story of A wrinkle in time was reinforced by cutting the passage. Still, it provides an interesting insight into the mind of a writer whose work has been influencing people for over 50 years.