for L'Engle fans

I just finished reading A Circle of Quiet. I requested it through inter-library loan and see that it was mislabeled as fiction by the Levittown library, even though it say "non-fiction" right on the inside cover. Though she does admit that the detailed sketch she presents of  the clash between newcomers and long-time residents in her  provincial town is fictionalized, that is only one small part of the book.

  This is not a novel but a meditative partial autobiography. It is not structured as a bildungsroman , though she does dwell on key memories of her seeing herself as a writer, as well as incidents that feature in her novels. L'Engle recalls being called "such a child" by one of her own children, in a good way, and that may be the same idea in having a character say something very close to that to Vicky in The Arm of the Starfish.   Those who have followed the Austin family chronicles would recognize that her daughter's refusal to eat meat from pigs after reading Charlotte's Web became an attribute of the sister of the main character. And the uncle's pronouncement of his own religious faith in The Moon by Night appears very close to the author's own, a type of existential religion formed on the basis of agnosticism.

Existential is one word she likes to describe her life, as well as ontological, a term she returns to again and again.  She also looks at art as ontological -- significant, though not obviously signifying. Reading and writing are primary subjects in this rather meandering book, which is only divided into 4 large sections rather than chapters (perhaps that is meant to correspond to the opening sentence, "We are four generations under one roof"). Writers should appreciate all her discussions about craft, exercise, drafting, discarding, and rejection. Her masterpiece A Wrinkle in Time, was rejected by so many editors, only to finally be published and then to win the Newberry award in 1963. L'Engle also published a number of books for adults and addresses why certain deep ideas are better by children. A Circle of Quiet was published in 1972 and reflects her concerns with what confronted that generation and the need to acknowledger mystery, as well as meaning.

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