Madeleine L’Engle fans, you’re in for quite a treat: a never-before-seen, discarded passage from the writer’s 1962 classic A Wrinkle In Time has surfaced, thanks to L’Engle’s granddaughter, Charlotte Jones Voiklis.
The three-page passage, which was published for the first time at The Wall Street Journal, provides a deeper look into L’Engle’s political worldview. Many readers, WSJ writes, assumed the planet Camazotz was a proxy for the Soviet Union, but this new passage challenges that assumption. Home after her narrow escape, it shows Meg Murry asking her father, “But Father, how did the Black Thing—how did it capture Camazotz?”
He tells her, “Well, it was the logical outcome of two things. Of complete totalitarianism in certain countries… It’s like Russia under Kruschev. Or Germany and Hitler. Countries under dictatorships. Franco. Mussolini. Castro. Mao.”
But then Meg asks, “Well, then, what about countries like—like ours? Ones that aren’t under dictatorships? Democracies?”
“It’s an equally logical outcome of too much prosperity,” Mr. Murry answers. “Or you could put it that it’s the result of too strong a desire for security.”
The Wall Street Journal writes that Voiklis “wanted readers to know the book wasn’t a simple allegory of communism.” She came across the pages a few years ago, in the midst of researching for the 50th anniversary edition of A Wrinkle in Time. (The passage was a part of the earliest surviving manuscript of the book.) While this new discovery fascinates us now, scholars queried by WSJ said that although it “is the most direct discussion of politics in her writing” and offers “a richer explanation of the author’s political views,” they, like Voiklis, thought that cutting the passage was the best decision for the book. Not only would it have dated the work, but, according to L’Engle scholar Suzanne Bray, the excerpt was probably cut for the very reason it’s interesting to us today: It was “too political, or too obviously political,” which L’Engle tried to avoid.
First published in 1962, A Wrinkle in Time has sold 14 million copies and won a Newbery Medal. Meg’s story has been made into a TV movie and an opera, among other iterations, and Frozen’s co-writer and co-director, Jennifer Lee, is writing a film adaptation for Disney.