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The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle #5)

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  36,200 ratings  ·  1,869 reviews
Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life--Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian m ...more
Paperback, 387 pages
Published October 20th 1994 by Harper Voyager (first published May 1974)
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Community Reviews

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First of all: if you haven't already read The Dispossessed, then do so. Somehow, probably because it comes with an SF sticker, it isn't yet officially labeled as one of the great novels of the 20th century. They're going to fix that eventually, so why not get in ahead of the crowd? It's not just a terrific story; it might change your life. Ursula Le Guin is saying some pretty important stuff here.

So, what is it she's saying that's so important? I've read the book several times since I first came
Joe S
Oh, Ursula. No longer will I love you in a vaguely ashamed manner, skulking through chesty-women-blow-shit-up-also-monster! book covers in the sci-fi/fantasy aisles with a moderate velocity as though I am actually trying to find Civil War biographies but am amusingly lost amongst all these shelves, that's so like me, need a GPS for Borders. Today, I will begin loving you publicly, proudly, for you are the Anti-Ayn Rand. You do not skullf**k Ayn Rand and make her your bitch, no, too easy. You tak ...more
mark monday
Why America Is Full of Toxic Bullshit and Why Ambiguous Utopias Need to Check Themselves Before They Wreck Themselves Going Down the Same Fucked-Up Path
by Ursula K. Le Guin.

this excellent novel-cum-political treatise-cum-extended metaphor for the States lays its thesis out in parallel narratives. in the present day (far, far, far in the future), heroically thoughtful protagonist Shevek visits the thinly-veiled States of the nation A-Io on the planet Urras in order to both work on his Theory of
Jeffrey Keeten
When I started this novel I was a little worried because the prose seemed clunky and I was having a hard time settling into the novel. After a few pages that all changed, either I adjusted to her writing style or the writing smoothed out. If you experience this, hang in there, it is well worth sticking with this book.


I see some reviewers think of The Dispossessed as an anti-Ayn Rand book. I didn't come away with that impression at all. I thought LeGuin did an excellent job of showing the fallac
As a semi-retired actor, there are many literary characters I'd love to play, and for all kinds of reasons. Cardinal Richelieu and D'Artagnan spring immediately to mind, but there are countless others: Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin (Perdido Street Station), Oedipus, Holmes or Watson (I'd take either), Captain Jack Aubrey (I'd rather Stephen, but I look like Jack), Heathcliff, Lady Macbeth (yep, I meant her), Manfred, Indiana Jones. But none of them are people who I would actually like to be.

That I r
Fulfillment, Shevek thought, is a function of time. The search for pleasure is circular, repetitive, atemporal. The variety seeking of the spectator, the thrill hunter, the sexually promiscuous, always ends in the same place. It has an end. It comes to the end and has to start over. It is not a journey and return, but a closed cycle, a locked room, a cell.

Outside the locked room is the landscape of time, in which the spirit may, with luck and courage, construct the fragile, makeshift, improbabl
Excellent book, and I've dog-eared about a third of its pages - too many messages, too little brain room left! Review to follow.

It's always easier not to think for oneself. Find a nice safe hierarchy and settle in. Don't make changes, don't risk disapproval[...] It's always easiest to let yourself be governed.
Jun 21, 2015 notgettingenough rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to notgettingenough by: Manny
Shelves: science-fiction
Thoughts on The Dispossessed

Of the various layers of content in The Dispossessed, the most obvious is the socio-political: capitalism vs. anarchistic-communism. The claim often made is that, even though her heart is with the latter, she nonetheless treats the two structures impartially. The claim or presumption is to be found in the reviews of fantasy/science fiction devotees, those with a particular interest in anarchism and, I suspect, also those who simply read it with an uncritical eye.

I don
There are some books that even with my untrained, unskilled and inexperienced eye can detect and confirm are true works of art, mastery in literature. Other works, perhaps less skillfully written or not as masterfully created, still strike a chord within me and I can grasp the vision and voice of the author as if we were friends, as if we shared a thought. It is truly rare when I can see that a book is both a work of art and that also touches me in a way that leaves a mark on my soul, perhaps ev ...more
It's really weird to me that, even though I'm totally drunk, I can still type just a s well as usual. I might not be able to make it down the hall without running into walls, but I can still compose a review without a problem. Anyway, I'm here today to talk about The Dispossessed. It is a book by Ursula K Le Guin, who is badass. If it hadn't taken me like four mouths to read this book, I would've probably given it five stars. Unfortunately, it took me almost a complete semester to read the damne ...more
4.0 to 4.5 stars. A truly exceptional novel and one of the best explorations of political theory and individual freedom ever in science fiction. Too often, an author will "beat you over the head" with their beliefs and make thinly disguised speeches through cardboard characters that leave no doubt that one side is very right and the other side is very wrong. Not so in this novel.

LeGuin's ultimate message is that individual freedom is the most important commodity in the universe. In conveying th
Nov 30, 2014 David rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: archists, propertarians, pretentious SF fans who wax on about who deserves to win Hugos
I read Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy way back when I was a kid, but I am abashed to say that until now I had never read any of her adult SF novels.

The Dispossessed holds up amazingly well for a book written nearly forty (!) years ago. In fact, forget about the publication date and it could have been written this year. Except that hardly anyone writes this kind of slow-moving, thoughtful, idea-heavy science fiction any more. The Dispossessed won a Hugo, a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award, and the Natio
Mar 18, 2014 Eric rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Eric by: Manny Citron
This discourse on dystopias won Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy, and National Book awards, and almost every single one of my Goodreads friends that has read it has it tagged with a 4 or 5 star rating. So clearly, the problem here is with me, because I really hated this book -- and it isn't because this book is dated or aged poorly, because the Cold War era slant of this book plays perfectly to a modern audience considering the current state of Russian-U.S. relations.

I'm giving it two stars b
Aug 03, 2010 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sci-fi buffs
Recommended to Tatiana by: 1001
Shelves: 1001, sci-fi, 2010, nebula
Although The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia is classified as science fiction, it is hardly a novel about aliens and space travel. Rather, it is a speculative work of fiction that explores the possibility of existence and limitations of a completely anarchist society.

At the center of the novel is the planet Anarres. Annares is populated by a community of anarchists, whose ascendants have left Anarres's sister planet Urras almost 200 years prior to escape its oppressive regimes and to establis
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
le Guin's 'The Dispossessed' represents the high orbit of what SF can do. Science Fiction is best, most lasting, most literate, when it is using its conventional form(s) to explore not space but us. When the vehicle of SF is used to ask big questions that are easier bent with binary planets, with grand theories of time and space, etc., we are able to better understand both the limits and the horizons of our species.

The great SF writers (Asimov, Vonnegut, Heinlein, Dick, Bradbury, etc) have been
Okuduğum ilk Ursula K. Le Guin kitabı... Sakin kafayla okunduğunda yaşamı sorgulamak adına çok şey çıkarılabilecek özel bir kitap bence MÜLKSÜZLER. Türkçe çevirsinden okuduğumu belirterek başlayayım. Bitirdiğimde kafamda "bir de yazıldığı dilde okuyayım" düşüncesi oluşmadı.

Kitabın yazılış hikayesi bile kendi başına bir hikaye. Mülksüzler, orjinal diliyle "The Dispossessed" Dostoyevski'nin "The Possessed'ine (Ecinniler) yazılmış bir cevap. Eğer Mülksüzleri okumadan önce bu bilgiye sahip olsaydım
This one makes my top 10 all time favourites list and I can't wait to read it again since it's the kind of book one only gets more and more from.

Although Le Guin doesn't offer all the answers, she does pose many questions in new light and with a clarity that takes your breath away. Revolution, anarchy, profit, the role of language in shaping how we think, the motivation for excluding women from education, the drivers of scientific research, ethics, the nature of time, ownership, power, love, sa

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.

The quote above is from an impassioned speech given by the author in 2014, forty years after The Dispossessed was first published,
I love Ursula K. Le Guin and The Left Hand of Darkness, The Lathe of Heaven and The Earthsea Quartet are some of my favourite books. I gave them all five stars. So what on earth happened with this book? I found it to be incredibly dull,with pages and pages of discussion of the same issues and nothing actually happening at all. The world building was fantastic - three stars for that alone. And the main character had a lot going for him but that was about it. I could not wait to get to the end and ...more
A truly great book.

What is Freedom? Ursula K. Le Guin gave what I believe to be the best answer to this question. She shouts about how Freedom is by no means synonymous to a risk-free life. It will absolutely entail hardship, heavy labor and insecurity. I remember once reading an interview with Chomsky where he was asked about Anarchism and how the Anarchist society might be. He answered that there are no ready-made answers to this question. He stressed that "we have to try and see". I found hi
Repost from my blog.

Synopsis The Dispossessed follows genius physicist Shevek on his journey through two twin planets: Capitalistic lush world Urras, and Anarres, Urras' harsh and arid moon, a utopia in danger. A short story describes the The Day Before the Revolution (my review), when an anarchist revolution led to the founding of an utopist society on Anarres. Those idealists believe that the only just society is one based upon communal sharing, mutual tolerance, and voluntary cooperation: N
Damn, I wavered over this book. Three or four stars? Two or five stars? One star? Zero stars? I went for four in the end, solely - solely - because I've never encountered a utopian world (or dystopian world, for that matter) that is so convincing. I haven't read enough, I know - but the moral complexity involved in constructing and maintaining this anarchist community on the moon was completely wonderful. Shevek's questioning of the underlying rules governing his world, his soul-searching, the p ...more
My first copy of "The Dispossessed" was the first mass market paperback edition. It is long gone. My current copy is an e-book, something I could not imagine when I held the thick paged paperback in my hands.

It is interesting to see this book chosen as the October selection for the goodreads group, "Literary Explorations." I do not know how the book was chosen, as I am new to the group. However, I launched into "The Dispossessed" with as much determination as I did the first time I read it.

Uzun zamandır bilim kurgu tarzında bir kitap okumadığım için bu kitaba dalmakta biraz sorun yaşadım. Şöyle ki, normalde bir kitabın içine girdiğimde çevremdeki gürültüler sesler beni hiç etklemez. Nerede olursam olayım kendimi soyutlarım. Ama bu kitabı okurken en ufak bir tıkırtı bile beni rahatsız ettiği için bazı paragrafları yeniden okumak zorunda kaldım.

Yine de ortalarına doğru (özellikle de kitabın kronolojik sırasındaki mantığı çözdüken sonra) giderek hikaye ilginçleşmeye başladı. Kurgunun
Something that strikes me about this book is the old cover blurb that this is about an ambiguous Utopia.

Because really all the cultures that we meet are engaged in a kind of the grass is greener on the other plant exercise. Each stands as a Utopia to another world and each looks elsewhere for its own. It is a novel of discontent.

For the crewman from the planet Hain at the end his own culture is a burden. It has experienced everything, while personally he has experienced nothing. The opportunity
Mar 20, 2008 Wealhtheow rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Gremlin Jane?
Shevek is a brilliant physicist living on Anarres. His world is actually a moon populated with the anarchist rebels of Urras. Anarres is utopic in many ways, but stifling to free thought, so Shevek flees to Urras. There, he finds himself too swaddled in privileges.

My inarticulate summary doesn't give the slightest hint of how incredible this book is. Le Guin turns her thoughtful, earthy eye on each form of government and lifestyle in the 9 Known Worlds, from the utilitarian anarchists to the ov
Nov 12, 2014 Alex rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
What is it about people I agree with that makes them so boring? Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Richard Wright, now Ursula Le seems like every time I read a book whose philosophy I'm generally down for, it bores the hell out of me.

Thank God for Ayn Rand, who reminds me that the problem exists on the other side too. I guess it's not the belief that sucks; it's the believing. If you have something to say about humans, then you're writing a novel. If you have something to say about ideology,
Ben Babcock
The success of The Dispossessed lies in Le Guin's presentation of two distinct visions of utopia. Each feels that the other is an aberration. Both are superior to the contemporary government of Earth, which at this stage has just barely managed to avoid destroying Earth's biome. Yet both are dysfunctional, have strayed from whatever utopian ideals may have founded them. They are not failed experiments, but they are not entirely successful either—owing to human nature—and Le Guin shows us the bes ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Kudos to Ursula K. LeGuin. She has created a world run by an "anarchistic government" - an oxymoron if there was one!
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As of 2013, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. Forthcoming ...more
More about Ursula K. Le Guin...

Other Books in the Series

Hainish Cycle (10 books)
  • Rocannon's World (Hainish Cycle #1)
  • Planet of Exile (Hainish Cycle #2)
  • City of Illusions
  • The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4)
  • The Word for World is Forest (Hainish Cycle #6)
  • Four Ways to Forgiveness (Hainish Cycle #7)
  • The Telling (Hainish Cycle #8)
  • The Birthday of the World and Other Stories
  • A Fisherman of the Inland Sea
A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1) The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2) The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle, #3) The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4) The Lathe of Heaven

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“You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.” 222 likes
“It is our suffering that brings us together. It is not love. Love does not obey the mind, and turns to hate when forced. The bond that binds us is beyond choice. We are brothers. We are brothers in what we share. In pain, which each of us must suffer alone, in hunger, in poverty, in hope, we know our brotherhood. We know it, because we have had to learn it. We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand. And the hand that you reach out is empty, as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are, and what you give.” 162 likes
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