Avast and ahoy!
I’m sure you – lover of literature that you are, dear reader – have been eagerly anticipating the premiere of the upcoming film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. All of us at Bookmarks certainly have, no matter what our species or galaxy of origin. On Sunday, February 18, Bookmarks will be hosting an event to celebrate that landmark work of literature.
Indeed, A Wrinkle in Time has so many fans here at Bookmarks that we could not settle on which of us ought to review it. Though Daisy customarily handles the science fiction and fantasy reviews, I consider the work to be especially suited to the kraken aesthetic. We have decided, therefore, not to assign the task to either one of us, but to present our review as a dialogue.
We recorded the following discussion over a snack of sandwiches and cocoa, while the wind howled threateningly outside…
Daisy: I am absolutely thrilled to be discussing A Wrinkle in Time, one of my favorite novels. I’ve loved it ever since I read it as a hatchling, and it improves with every re-reading as I’ve come to appreciate the science and symbolism of it. But you read it much more recently, didn’t you, Karl?
Karl: Yes, I read it mere months ago – on your own recommendation, of course – while I was trying to familiarize myself with the human children’s fiction tradition.
Daisy: I often wish I could read it again with new eyes and experience for the first time. So I’d love to know what your immediate reaction was when you first read it.
Karl: Oh, I was quite impressed by it. But I think it possible that you may, by no fault of your own save that of over enthusiasm, which I consider no fault at all, my dear dragon, have raised my expectations unduly.
Daisy: Oh? How so?
Karl: When you first thrust it into my tentacle and told me I must read it at once, you claimed it was ahead of its time in its integration of complex issues into children’s literature and its visionary scientific concepts.
Daisy: Yes, and?
Karl: I am sure it is merely a consequence of species differences. For though I found the work to be delightful and fascinating, it seemed to me perfectly consistent with the conventions of kraken literature. For instance, the concept of a fifth dimension is nothing extraordinary to anyone trained in traditional krakonian physics, which has long recognized the existence of at least eight dimensions.
Daisy: Rien n’est nouveau sous le soleil, même quand il n’y a pas de soleil. Ionesco. “There’s nothing new under the sun, even if there’s no sun.”
Karl: As in the deep sea.
Daisy: Or outer space. But surely there must have been something new to you in such an imaginative and innovative work as this? What about the strange and intriguing alien societies that L’Engle depicts so skillfully?
Karl: Such as Ixchel, you mean?
Karl: I’m afraid I find nothing odd or extraordinary about fuzzy tentacled creatures who are nurturing towards children and somewhat baffled by human society.
Daisy: But surely krakens don’t speak through their tentacles, do they?
Karl (through his tentacles): “There are more things on land and sea, my dear dragon, than are dreamt of in your science fiction.”
Karl: An old kraken saying. You know, the character of Aunt Beast is very reminiscent of my own aunt Kendra the Kraken… But don’t get the wrong impression – I never meant to claim that the book was unoriginal. Merely that what it presents as wonders and impossibilities are only so to the human mind. It is a testament to this book’s complexity that even if it does not impress the reader with its strangeness, it remains a delightful coming-of-age novel and exploration of grand philosophical ideas.
Daisy: Very true. The thing I love most about A Wrinkle in Time is how it grapples with the problem of evil. It is a wonderful celebration of the human spirit. – Human in the largest possible sense, of course. It is very inclusive, I think, of other species. Aunt Beast, for instance, and the three star-beings.
Karl: And one must not forget Fortinbras the dog.
Daisy: I am eager to see how Fortinbras is cast in the movie. The part is so small in the book, but with the right actor the character could really come to life onscreen.
[The conversation was unfortunately broken off here, as Karl took a bite of his sandwich and was inexplicably transported across five dimensions to a planet in a distant spiral galaxy, the inhabitants of which resembled long-eared hedgehogs and lived in a benevolent thalassocracy. Karl was able to negotiate with their elders for transport back to earth, which took about a week, but, factoring in warps in the spacetime continuum due to an unexpected scone shortage on the planet Dumuzi, was only about five minutes from the perspective of earth.]
Karl (upon returning): My apologies for the interruption. Now where were we?
Daisy: You were almost finished with your sandwich.
Karl (finishing his sandwich): “Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral.” Brecht. “Feeding comes first, then comes the moral.”
Daisy: What is the moral?
Karl: That one must always consider the possibility of interdimensional travel, especially when having a snack. Also that great literature is best discussed on dark and stormy nights in the company of mythological creatures.
Daisy: May I add another moral?
Karl: Moralize ahead, dear dragon.
Daisy: “Plus de tentacles qu’on possède, plus de savoir littéraire qu’on peut offrir.” Albert Camus.
Karl: An excellent quote, though I cannot recall reading it in any of his works.
Daisy: Oh, no, this was from personal correspondence.