Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dispossessed” as Want to Read:
The Dispossessed
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dispossessed

(Hainish Cycle #6)

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  75,315 ratings  ·  4,809 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 ...more
Paperback, 387 pages
Published October 20th 1994 by Harper Voyager (first published May 1974)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dispossessed, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Maggie The philosophical ideas in this book are as resounding now as ever - if you've ever dabbled in political philosophy or comparative theology, Le Guin…moreThe philosophical ideas in this book are as resounding now as ever - if you've ever dabbled in political philosophy or comparative theology, Le Guin does a fantastic job of weaving bits and pieces from capitalism/socialism/communism, age-old Western/Eastern contrasts, and class structure/conflict. Given today's disparaging levels of inequality and political polarity, this book is very on-point in its subtle criticisms of tribalism. (less)
Michael Murray No they are quite distinct books. They are just set in the same "universe" with races and planets having the same names.…moreNo they are quite distinct books. They are just set in the same "universe" with races and planets having the same names. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  75,315 ratings  ·  4,809 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Dispossessed
Manny
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
...more
Joe S
Nov 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Lyn
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
mark monday
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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.

Dispossessed4

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
...more
Matthias
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matthias by: Manny
Shelves: my-reviews, favorites
More than two months have passed since I've closed this book. While my traditional reviewing habit was one of immediately rushing to the closest laptop after reading the last line and sharing my excitement or the lack thereof in some hopefully original way, I felt a need to really let Le Guin's words sink fully into my mind and make them my own. (Actually, I've mostly just been very lazy in the reviewing department lately, but "letting words sink in" just sounds a little better.) But when it ...more
İntellecta
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
You question a lot of things when you read this book. Loyalty, freedom, desire to own, work, family concept .... I think the author has written a great book.
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
4, maybe 4.5 stars. This classic SF novel kept me glued to my chair the whole time I was reading it. Granted, I was on a cross-country airplane flight from Washington DC to Utah, but still!

It's very thought-provoking SF, set in the same universe as Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, but even more politically inclined. Almost 200 years earlier, a group of rebels left a highly capitalistic society on the planet Urras, to form their more utopian government on the moon Annares. Now a man named
...more
Darwin8u
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, aere-perennius
“You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution.”
— Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed.

description

Ursula K. 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
...more
Bradley
The first time I read this book back in the early nineties, I would have given it a four star rating because I was slightly annoyed with the prose and the steadily boring pace where nothing really big happens (mostly) except a general living of a life. This is despite our following a very interesting character escaping his pragmatic moon to gift his very advanced physics that would lead to not only an ansible for faster-than-light communications but also faster-than-light travel.

The
...more
notgettingenough
Sep 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Brad
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
...more
Ivan
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books if not THE favorite and on third read I like it even more since I notice details I haven't first time around. I feel I should say something about the book but I'm not sure I can do this book justice. Review hopefully might come at some point.
Eric
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Tara
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Tara by: Junta
Shelves: 1001-list
I’ve gotta admit, I was initially a little wary of The Dispossessed. I was worried that it might prove to be one of those godawful books whose sole purpose in life is to peddle insipidly idealistic ideology. The derisive cynic in me was prepared for the worst, ready to swoop in with some aggressively bratty eye-rolling and loud, obnoxious sighing at the first sign of trouble. I mean, is there anything worse than those agenda-pushing heaps of garbage that masquerade as literature? Seriously, who ...more
J.L.   Sutton
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossessed was a difficult book for me to review. On the one hand, I like the ideas Le Guin explores and the fact that she doesn't take shortcuts. Her depictions of utopia, for instance, are interesting and thought provoking, but at the same time they're obviously flawed. That's not a surprise. Still, it's frustrating for the reader that the main character, Shevek, doesn't see those flaws. Even though it's probably perfectly natural for people in a given cultural context ...more
Megan Baxter
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Human nature tends towards, not entropy, but bureaucracy.

I fear my review might focus more on Anarres and less on Urras, as it was the Anarrian sections that interested me more, the attempts to sustain (founding was the easy part) an anarcho-syndicalist society over a long period of time. For Urras, I thought that Urras was painted in clear terms, and avoided a polemic, although it did have very pointed things to say about class, and war, and conscription, and property, and the gendering
...more
Simona Bartolotta
"He has power over you. Where does he get it from? Not from vested authority, there isn't any. Not from intellectual excellence, he hasn't any. He gets it from the innate cowardice of the average human mind. Public opinion! That's the power structure he's part of, and knows how to use."

I have decided this won't be a proper review, but rather a short, focused comment.

The Dispossessed is one of those books written not to make you lose yourself in the story, but to make you yourself in your
...more
Manuel Antão
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, favorites
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Anarres vs. Urras - Ambiguous Walls: “The Dispossessed” by Ursula K. Le Guin Published 1994.


There was a wall. It did not look important…But the idea was real…Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon the which side of it you were on”.

In “The Dispossessed” by Ursula K. Le Guin



"Call me Shevek. Some years ago, never mind how many, I set out to be the tedious, most hypocritical,
...more
Aubrey
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,
...more
Peter Boyle
Nov 25, 2016 rated it liked it
My hero David Mitchell frequently mentions The Dispossessed as one of his favourite books, and it is regularly described as one of the most significant sci-fi novels of all time. So I just HAD to see what all the fuss was about.

The story revolves around two distant planets, Urras and Annares. Years ago a rebellion brewed on Urras and in order to avoid conflict, the anarchists left to start a new life on Annares. Urras is a bountiful place with a capitalist, patriarchal society, whereas Annares
...more
Stuart
The Dispossessed: Not simply an anarchist utopia/capitalist dystopia
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
The Dispossessed is a perfectly achieved thought experiment, perhaps Ursula K. Le Guin’s greatest work, but there is little I can say that hasn’t been said more eloquently, forcefully, thoroughly, or knowledgeably by other reviewers. It transcends the genre as a Novel of Ideas. It explores with great intelligence anarchism-socialism vs capitalism; freedom/slavery in terms of politics,
...more
William2
Contentment generally doesn’t compel writers to their greatest work. Historian Barbara Tuchman mentions this in one of her books. I think it’s true for fiction, too. The happiness of others— making babies, seeing friends, tying one on, etc— is a bore. Even if it’s happening a million years in the future on two adjacent planets 20 light years away. The writing however is far better than the content, which is why I give it 3 stars. There can be no question that here at least Le Guin has produced ...more
Christmas Carol ꧁꧂
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: For those who want to think
Do I like this book?

I'm really not sure. Maybe I should have followed the GR reading order, as at the start I was very confused. But this tale of two separate planets, seen through the eyes of the intelligent & (originally) idealistic Shevek parallels our own society. Communism or Capitalism? Which system is better?

I particularly like this quote:

“My world, my Earth is a ruin. A planet spoiled by the human species. We multiplied and fought and gobbled until there was nothing left, and
...more
Nataliya
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.
Fran
One of the things that always comes to my mind when reading this novel (yes, I’ve read it several times) is this feeling that while Anarres does represent something that feels like a utopian future, it’s a utopia/dystopia of a different kind, one that feels the closets to a future that may work for everyone.

Anarres is a small moon, colonized by humans from the planet Urras. For centuries, Urra’s government contained and served only the wealthy. And the wealthy loathe the poor. So, by ensuring
...more
Gabrielle
Updated review after a re-read in November 2019.

---

“Change is freedom, change is life."

"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, don't upset your syndics. It's always easiest to let yourself be governed."

"There's a point, around age twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities."

"Those who build walls are their own
...more
Michael
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
David
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil
  • Childhood's End
  • Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)
  • The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1)
  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  • Red Mars (Mars Trilogy, #1)
  • The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)
  • The Forever War (The Forever War, #1)
  • Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1)
  • Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)
  • Rendezvous with Rama (Rama, #1)
  • Foundation (Foundation #1)
  • The Stars My Destination
  • The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3)
  • The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)
  • Dune (Dune, #1)
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz (St. Leibowitz, #1)
  • Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1)
See similar books…
15,904 followers
Ursula K. Le Guin 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. She lived in Portland, ...more

Other books in the series

Hainish Cycle (6 books)
  • Rocannon's World
  • Planet of Exile (Hainish Cycle #2)
  • City of Illusions
  • The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle #4)
  • The Word for World is Forest
“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.” 646 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.” 388 likes
More quotes…