August 25, 2006

A Wrinkle in Time

Posted in Modern Classics, Science Fiction at 7:18 pm by j128

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time (this is my favourite cover)

A Wrinkle in Time by American author Madeleine L’Engle was published in 1964 after several refusals due to the fact that, in Madeleine L’Engle’s words, “it was too different.” Copies of A Wrinkle in Time, published by Random House Children’s Books, has an added afterword, though not by Madeleine L’Engle, explaining the science behind A Wrinkle in Time.


The story begins with the line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” an allusion to the opening words of Paul Clifford by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.

The protagonist is Margaret “Meg” Murry, thirteen, and eldest child of the Murry family. Her siblings are Sandy and Dennys, twin brothers, who are two years younger than Meg, and Charles Wallace, Meg’s “dumb baby brother” who is five. Charles Wallace is often considered dumb because he does not talk around other people other than his family and is described as “something new” by Mrs. Murry.

Mr. and Mrs. Murry are both scientists, though in different fields. Mr. Murry, who’s been missing since before Charles Wallace began to talk, is an astrophysicist and Mrs. Murray who is gifted with gorgeousness and violet eyes is a microbiologist who works in her lab from her home.

The plot of A Wrinkle in Time is about the rescuing of Mr. Murry, who’s been missing for some years after a secret and closely guarded experiment conveyed by the government.

The people who rescue him are his children, Meg and Charles Wallace, and their new aquaintance, Calvin O’Keefe. The children are aided by three eccentric and mysterious women, Mrs Who, Mrs Which, and Mrs Whatsit. (N.B. Madeleine L’Engle requested to have the abbreviation of mistress the British way, but it was either ignored or the publishers went ahead anyway.)

The three women tesseract with the three children, making a wrinkle in time to Camazotz after visiting a few other planets and witnessing a horrible black thing, the visible manifestation of evil. But they say that this black thing is being fought by many beings, the greatest being from Earth. The children name some of the greatest people of all time including Leonardo da Vinci and Albert Einstein.

Camazotz is being ruled by a large dismembered human brain, referred to the population as IT. IT has Mr. Murray trapped, and Mr. Murray is fighting IT’s power.

Charles Wallace is tricked by the Man-with-red-eyes and is sucked into the power of IT. Meg almost dies, except that Mr. Murry tesseracts with Calvin and Meg in time. They leave Charles Wallace behind with IT.

After Meg has recovered on a safe planet inhabited with strange creatures who are furry beings in various sizes and possessing various limbs Meg rescues Charles Wallace with the one thing that IT does not have.

The Murrays fall back to Earth, and it seems not a minute has passed. And not a minute has passed because they tesseracted, they made a ‘wrinkle’ in time.

The family reunites and the “Mrs W’s” call Charles Wallace, Meg, and Calvin aside to tell them something, but the children never find out what the strange women were going to say for they are blown away suddenly.


A Wrinkle in Time was adapted by Disney as a television movie in 2003. After having seen it, I don’t think it’s the best version of the story, shall we say, and the story was modified for the movie’s sake. The special effects, such as Mrs Whatsit’s transformation, could stand for some improvement with CGI, I think. It is available on DVD.

Other books in these series, sometimes referred to as The Time Quartet are: (in chonological order) A Wind in the Door, Many Waters, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet.


A Wrinkle in Time– Detailed article including summary and discussion, etc. about A Wrinkle in Time.