Critical Linking: December 5, 2015

St. Augustine put it best when he said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” So, are you a fair-weather fan of books, or a dedicated diehard? Do you have a bit of wanderlust, or do you prefer to read about locales instead of actually going to them? Put your jetsetting tendencies to the test.

I’ve been to exactly 0 of these literary landmarks. Plenty of other ones, though.

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One of the benefits of L’Engle’s need to revisit characters over and over again is the peek that readers get at their fates. Meg Murry, for instance, the precocious nerd-girl heroine of A Wrinkle in Time, ends up the mother to a whole brood of kids, with some serious regrets about her career — while her husband, Wrinkle‘s jock Calvin O’Keefe, is a famous scientist. Subtle gender oppression is real, and cloyingly happy endings are elusive. L’Engle’s novels frequently deal with death, religion, and sexuality, which keeps them on many banned books lists, decades later. They’re fantasy stories, but not fairy tales.

Here is a loose ranking of all the books in this expanded universe, from “you absolutely must read it if you missed it” to “read it only if you’re obsessed with the author’s work.” (Also worth exploring: L’Engle’s darker, sophisticated grown-up  novels.)

I’ve always meant to read L’Engle’s books but haven’t. This ranked list might be a good starting place.

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So far, 2015 has seen the rediscovery of a rash of “lost” poems, short stories and fragments, both verified and questionable — most notably Harper Lee’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman, and the previously unpublished Dr. Seuss book, What Pet Should I Get?

 

There must be something in the water.

 

Often these discoveries are unverifiable, unfinished works not intended for publication, or juvenilia, but for scholars of the authors, every bit of writing could be valuable insight. For the rest of us, well, don’t underestimate the appeal of a famous author’s brand. Hey, how much less interesting could a teenaged Brontë really be?

It does seem like there were a lot of discoveries this year. I didn’t even know about some of the ones listed here.

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