Cheryl's Reviews > The Dispossessed

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
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Apr 08, 11

Read from August 15 to 19, 2010

I just couldn't appreciate this the way so many others do.

The way the story is told in the past, so we learn things as they're revealed rather than as the characters are experiencing them, provides a disconnect. Perhaps it is meant to serve to point out the universality of the themes - but I found that it made me feel distanced, as if none of the story mattered.

I suppose if I were younger and still interested in political ideas and revolutions, if I hadn't read, and lived through, lots of other exposures to ideas like these, I'd find it more interesting.

And if I were more naive I wouldn't be so ready to quibble over the arguments - such as the presentation of the upper classes of Urras being so very self-absorbed and without conscience. Ok, so Le Guin is no Sinclair Lewis or Upton Sinclair, but does Urras have no Jane Addams or Margaret Sanger? Ok, perhaps one of Le Guin's themes, that of male dominance, is meant to reveal that Urras first needs a Carrie Chapman Catt. But thinking about that begs me to ask - in 1400 years of Urrasti there has been none?

I suppose, too, if I'd read it when it was first written, when it was ground-breaking and influential, it would have made more of an impression on me.

I do not see 'science fiction' here at all, really. I see something I'd call 'speculative literature.' It's got that highbrow vibe and almost no actual doings of science. I much prefer my sf to make its points with some joy, or fun, or adventure, or even humor thrown in. Think Asimov Isaac's Robot Stories or Robert Heinlein or Charles Sheffield.

I felt as if Le Guin wanted to teach me something, even preach at me a bit. But even lecturers can present their ideas more engagingly than this. It finally got interesting as the two pasts converged to the present - but the book unfortunately ended just as it was about to start being a narrative into which I could sink my teeth.
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08/18/2010 page 182
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Cheryl today's edit was 'at' to 'as' in the last sentence - that's all


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