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Ursula K. Le Guin at the National Book Awards

Ursula K. Le Guin accepts the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards on November 19, 2014.

“I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies, to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality…

…Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable.

So did the divine right of kings.

Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.”

– speech excerpt

Copyright © 2014 Ursula K. Le Guin


  1. Reblogged this on S.A. Barton: Seriously Eclectic and commented:
    I’ve been tweeting the living daylights out of Ursula K. Le Guin’s speech lately, so I might as well reblog it as well.

    And it’s well to remember, as she says, that books are art before commodity.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad when someone buys something I’ve written. And I’d love to make a living from people buying things I’ve written, exclusively. I’m sure Ursula K. Le Guin is happy with the life the sales of her various works has given her. None of that invalidates her points. Art is valuable, whether it is formed of the written word or otherwise — and we’d do well as a society to value artistry over advertising hype.

  2. Reblogged this on Saints and Trees and commented:
    Ursula Le Guin is one of my favorite writers from way back. My favorite work of hers is the novella “Buffalo Gals” and I especially love her short stories. Thanks to Isaac of Ekostories for the original blog posting of this inspirational speech.

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