Today is the 86th birthday of author Ursula K. Le Guin, without whom I would have never wrote all the words on this blog, or any words in general, because I would have missed out on visiting worlds of wizards, dragons, aliens, Italians, anarchists, and ants. In light of this happy occasion, I’ve compiled the pieces I’ve written about her work over the years on Ekostories. To steal a passage from the introduction she did for James Tiptree Jr.’s Star Songs of an Old Primate: “Here are Some real stories.”
So this came into my feed: Adaptations to beloved stories are always risky. But having listened to the preview of what is undoubtedly the most moving passage in what is arguably my favourite book, I think they will do justice to the work. The words have changed compared to the first paragraphs of Chapter 18, but the haunting beauty of the scene is as I remembered it, back when I first lingered on each sentence, back when I first read it aloud in my writer’s group, and now as I recite it again in my mind. From memory (pardon the punctuation mistakes): “Sometimes, as I’m falling asleep in a dark and quiet room, I have for a moment a great and treasurable illusion of the past. The wall of the tent leans up against my face, not visible but audible, a slanting plane of faint sound. The susurrus of blown snow, nothing can be seen. The light emission of the Chabe stove is cut off, and it exists only as a sphere of heat, a …
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
“I would call [A Wizard of Earthsea] a fantasy book for adults. You might call it young adult or fantasy, or one of those categories—which are really just there to help people put things on bookshelves. But because it is really talking about life and mortality and who are we as human beings, and what is the relationship between our darker side and the rest of us, I think it can be profitably read by anybody over the age of 12.” – Margaret Atwood
I thought I was done. I thought four parts and 7,500 words would be enough. But as I completed the last piece, I realize there was still so much more within The Dispossessed that spoke to me, and so much more than I wanted to share. So I took the easy way out and created a list post. I’ve come back to the following twenty passages time and again, discovering new nuances and insight within them. I chose them because they work both in text and on their own. I’ve inserted my brief thoughts with each, but I would love to hear what you think as well.