C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Retrospective on the novels

After reading children’s literature by C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle, I have come to the conclusion that I definitely prefer the writing by the latter. This is due to her scientific references and the application of these to create a sphere of knowledge through philosophical approaches or those which cannot be proven through scientific measures and the scientific element. Being a science minor with great curiosity for this field, L’Engle’s usage of these references definitely contributed to my opinion on the two authors!
I also prefer her characters and the depiction of these. She does not include any sexist aspects or portray women or men in a certain, stereotypical manner. She also allows flaws and personality imperfections in her characters, which causes the characters to appear more natural and therefore realistic.
Between her two novels A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door, I enjoyed the first one most. Compared to the second one, this book did not cram too much random, almost irrelevant appearing knowledge and information into a few pages and was resultantly more enjoyable to read since it possessed over a more powerful and present flow.
C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, at first appeared to be a fairly entertaining and child-challenging writing since the overall ideas are interesting and appealing. However, the further analysis of the sexist elements which are seen through the stereotypical portrayal of the characters, made me change my mind to some extend.
I prefer L’Engle!
Good class! Thank you!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Entry 9

As I continue reading A Wind in the Door, I begin to notice that the first book which we read prior to this was more pleasurable after all.
It appears that in this reading, the author cramps in several issues to formulate a mission for the characters or a plot. The crack in the universe, the Teacher, Louise the Larger, Charles Wallace’s frightening physical condition, the cherubim, and the several lengthy test which must be accomplished by Meg and her partner seem to form such complexity that confusion is almost inevitable.
I still enjoy reading the book but thinking of a child-reader and its perspective increases the perplexity and uncertainty the text entails and which must make it very challenging to read or more important, to understand.
The scene which describes Meg’s first test and in which Mr. Jerkins is present in three physical creatures, strongly reminded me of the movie “The Matrix” in which the antagonist, Mr. Smith, appears in large numbers and therefore leads to superiority and the empowerment of his person.
My current status quo in conclusion: good book but as with most sequels: there is only one original! And this one is hard to beat!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Entry Nummer 8

Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door is as enjoyable and entertaining as its literal predecessor, A Wrinkle in Time. The characters who appear older in this book, have all maintained their continuous individuality and are as likeable as I had anticipated and hoped for.
There are also some details, which L’Engle reapplies in A Wind in the Door. The seventh stair, which is rather noisy when stepped onto and that leads to the house’s lower levels from the attic, or the food description of liverwurst and cream cheese sandwiches and the family’s enjoyment of cocoa in the evening are all details which are reoccurring and add a sense of familiarity to the reader’s experience.
What I am not very fond of though, is the numerous remarks of the Murry’s extensive scientific careers which include several PhDs. To me the tone of these comments is too boastful and arrogant in a subtle yet strongly apparent way.
As in the first one, the mother, Mrs. Murry, and Charles Wallace remain my favorite characters. The little boy’s intense intelligence yet humble and kind personality are very appealing to me. In fact, in my reading group discussion with Ashley, I pointed out that I want my future son to be very similar to Charles Wallace! ;)
Another interesting aspect is the potential symbolism of the snake, Louise. At this point I must say “potential” since I have not yet encountered enough evidence to be certain of my theory; but it appears as if there is a connection between the snake and (arising) evil which could be interpreted as biblical allusion to Genesis.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Number Seven

The book’s ending seemed to go by too quickly. Meg saves Charles Wallace and they’re swirled back into their back yard on Earth where they find their family.
When Mrs. Whatsit tells Meg about one thing that she possesses over and that IT does not, it became clear immediately that she was talking about love. She tells Meg that she loves her and gives her this gift for her journey and since the inhabitants of Camazotz are described as unemotional yet unhappy people (not individuals!), love seemed to be the only remedy instantly.
I was somewhat disappointed in the very brief ending which describes the family’s reunion. I had expected more detail in this section which would describe the individual character’s reaction to the events, especially the father’s return after four years.
But I was happy when Baby Charles was saved since he had remained my favorite character throughout the book.
In conclusion, I definitely enjoyed reading A Wrinkle in Time a lot more than I did reading The Chronicles of Narnia. This is due to the characters which are described in a more realistic, believable manner and the contemporary setting in which the plot takes place. I also highly valued the literary allusions which included some excerpts of Shakespeare’s poems and quotes. The sayings which were presented in different languages including Portuguese, Latin, Italian, Spanish, German, and some others also contributed to the book’s high score on my personal scale!
Definitely something I’m going to read to my future children!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Entry 6 - chapters 6-12

A Wrinkle in Time has continued to be an exceptionally well written children’s book. As the plot develops, the characters evolve also and do so in a very convincing, human, realistic way which enables the reader to related to them as well as to the incidents and situations.
The chapters which describe the Planet of Camazotz, reminded me of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. This is due to the similar portrayal of an overly homogenous society and place which lacks and does not promote individuality or distinctiveness. The monotony and repetitive routines are also very similar to Huxley’s writing.
The omnipotent “IT” can be viewed as brainwashing dictator who does not possess over any emotional intelligence or interests but whose only interest lies in the people’s “functioning”.
I was surprised by Meg’s reaction to her father’s failed mission of saving Calvin, Meg, Charles Wallace, and himself. He was forced to leave behind his son in order to save the others from IT and by neglecting Charles, Meg appears to have built up a deep distrust and dislike towards her father. These strong feelings were rather unexpected since she seemed to be a realistic and considerate girl prior to this incident who should be aware of the fact that her father most likely did all he could and that it was not his intention to leave behind Charles Wallace.
Still, the book is an amazing piece of children’s literature and I favor it over The Chronicles of Narnia although I do miss Aslan and the strong symbolism and some biblical allusions. But this book’s literary references and its stunning representations are also very enjoyable!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Entry V - Madeleine L'Engle

My first reaction to chapters 1-4 of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is…amazing! I enjoyed every second of reading these introductory chapters of the book. Since it appears more modern and contemporary, it is a lot easier to imagine and picture what is going on with the characters and overall plot. Compared to C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, the characters in this story appear more equal regarding their sex and their individual personalities are presented in convincing sincerity which makes them seem very realistic. The fact that the fairy tale components of questionable or fictional occurrences are also presented in a more realistic way since L’Engle applies the study of science to justify the incidents.
Another point which differentiates A Wrinkle in Time from C.S. Lewis’ writing is the application and usage of greater detail in description of settings and characters. An element which enables the reader to visualize the plot more easily and vividly.
My favorite characters at the moment are Charles Wallace and his mother Mrs. Murry. The little boy is described in such a pleasant and purely kind way that he instantly received my sympathy. His is described as concerned and observant individual who is very charming as well as likable. Prior to learning about the three women, I thought the boy might be autistic due to his intelligence and alertness yet inability to “function normally” in society.
The mother gained my favoritism because of her patient, loving, intelligent character which she applies towards her children and Mrs. Whatsit.
I also found great pleasure in reading Mrs. Who’s quotations which provide the reader with intellectual stimulation.
Evidently, this book is more challenging to read for children due to its increased complexity regarding plot and individuality of characters. But currently, I must say that I value A Wrinkle in Time over The Chronicles of Narnia.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Entry numero 4

Some people might think that writing a fantasy story or fairy tale such as Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia is an easy task since it does not include vast amounts of research or the direct application of informative sources.
But as soon as one sincerely considers writing a fictional story which includes large quantities of imagination and creative thinking, it becomes clear that it is quite challenging to create such a work.
The establishment and contiued consistency of characters, for example, presents such a challenge since the author must have in mind the exact personality traits as well as physical features of each individual character. The Chronicles of Narnia introduces numerous, very distinct and individual characters including fable creatures, animals, and humans, which make the plot more complex and therefore quite difficult to write.
The various plots which are all tied together, and countless settings in the book also contribute to the challenging aspect of writing a fairy tale.
If addressing children in a fictional writing, one must also be aware of the developmental stages and ability to grasp and understand the plot. Obviously, each child is different, yet an estimation of what writing suits what age group must be existent to write an effective and apt story.
Another factor which must be considered when writing a fictional story, is the content and possible lessons or implications it should provide its readers with. Other aspects, such as symbolisms, philosophies, or allusions and allegories must also be outlined in order to entail these efficiently.
When attempting to write a fairy tale it soon becomes clear that even though this art might appear easy or simple at first, there is more to it than merely jotting down random ideas and creative imaginations. In fact, to me, this presents one of the most challenging tasks in writing!