Why it took 54 years to turn A Wrinkle in Time into a movie
Fifty-four years later, producer Catherine Hand nearly has. A Wrinkle in Time, a Disney movie based on Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 novel of the same name, will come out on March 9, 2018. The film brings to life the story of Meg Murry, a gangly adolescent who travels across dimensions to rescue her scientist father. Meg is guided by a trio of guardian angels collectively called “the Mrs.” The book, and the movie, is about what it means to be a source of light in a world in which darkness seems only to proliferate. It also makes the case for thinking independently when conformity is the norm.
As a novel, A Wrinkle in Time has been a mainstay of middle school English curricula for decades. It introduced the spiritual antecedent to Katniss Everdeen, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Hermione Granger. And it posed a series of philosophical questions that are no less relevant in the era of Trump and Putin than they were in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev. High stakes, in other words. As Winfrey sees it, Wrinkle the movie heightens the stakes even more. “I felt like we were making the new Wizard of Oz for another generation.”
A Wrinkle in Time begins with the mother of all literary clichés: “It was a dark and stormy night.” But what follows is wholly original. When Wrinkle was first published, L’Engle was 17 years into a writing career that would span fiction, nonfiction, poetry and theater. The idea for the book came to her during a family camping trip when the names of three old-as-time ethereal beings—Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Who—“popped” into her mind.
She had been on something of a cosmology bender, soaking up the works of Arthur Eddington, Max Planck and Albert Einstein. The theory of relativity interested her, and she’d come across the concept of a “tesseract”—familiar to anyone versed in advanced geometry or Marvel’s Avengers movies. From there, she conjured a story about a girl who “tessers,” or travels in the fifth dimension—or, as the writer put it, traverses a wrinkle in time.
The book is partly autobiographical. As a girl, L’Engle had felt gawky and unwanted. She would come home in the afternoon and write stories with heroes she aspired to be like. But when she created Meg Murry, she crafted one who shared what L’Engle felt as her own failings: Meg is an outcast who struggles in school, her scientist parents’ genes for brilliance taking some time to express themselves. She’s also angsty and angry and troubled by the injustices around her.
The tale almost never saw the light of day. Unlike L’Engle’s previous novels, this one puzzled publishers. Some rejected it because they believed its themes too challenging for young readers. Some objected to its portrayal of evil, and still others wouldn’t bet on a female sci-fi protagonist. All told, it met with some 26 rejections before Farrar, Straus and Giroux took a chance. The book, the first in what would come to be known as the Time Quintet series, hasn’t gone out of print since. As of its 50th anniversary in 2012, Wrinkle had sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
After its publication, Wrinkle was controversial. It’s still one of the most frequently banned American books, in the company of censored classics The Catcher in the Rye (profanity) and Charlotte’s Web (talking animals). Most objections were made on the grounds that it was un-Christian. The book is reverential of Jesus, but it also equates him with historical geniuses like da Vinci and Gandhi. (L’Engle was a Christian.) The book promotes, according to critics, witchcraft, divination and a “new age” approach to spirituality.
L’Engle, who died in 2007 at 88, eventually came to accept the great publicity attempts to censor Wrinkle proffered. Not that the book, which won the Newbery Prize in 1963, needed it. Its influence helped launch a new generation of fantasy writers and new types of books that didn’t quite fit in any one section of the library. Not least among the reasons Wrinkle was so novel and widely read: its hero was a girl.
(time.com by Eliza Berman)
Wrapping up my synopsis of "A Wrinkle in Time" today. Hope you learned something and are motivated to get a copy of the book to enjoy with your kids. It's one of those books that everyone should read. Tomorrow it's back to other great book to reviews and to share with you.
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