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Le Langage de la Nuit

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,054 ratings  ·  112 reviews
Auteure majeure de science-fiction et de fantasy, Ursula K. Le Guin était aussi une théoricienne hors pair et une oratrice remarquable. Elle a parcouru universités, congrès, bibliothèques et librairies pour parler des sujets qui la passionnaient : le féminisme, l'anarchisme, le rôle humaniste de la littérature, et, surtout, la mission des littératures de l'imaginaire. Les ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 16th 2018 by Le livre de poche (first published June 1st 1979)
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Manuel Antão
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1981
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

D-Cups: "The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction" by Ursula K. Le Guin

(Original Review, 1981-04-01)

My understanding of close reading was what I described in another review gleaning from Empson, and I never intended to dismiss the idea of finding archetypes in literary characters. As far as that goes, I might put myself much closer to the other extreme and be tempted to say: every story contains archetypes becau
This is a book of essays, talks and introductions first published in 1979, and revised in 1989.

"From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" is an essay on style in fantasy. She focuses on three writers: JRR Tolkien, ER Eddison & Kenneth Morris. I don’t know much about the latter two; I had never heard of Morris before, and Eddison is an author I’ve attempted to read before, but I did not get very far in The Worm Ouroboros.

She also has this wonderful description of Lord Dunsany’s style:
"The King James Bible
Feb 20, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
UPDATE: Last night I was reluctant to follow Frodo and Sam on their last leg through Mordor, so I dug this out for a reread instead. Was struck by something lovely and amazing and true and important. Let me quote. "In this labyrinth (of the strange morality of fairy tales) where it seems one must trust to blind instinct, there is, Von Franz points out, one -- only one -- consistent rule or 'ethic': 'Anyone who earns the gratitude of animals, or whom they help for any reason, invariably wins out. ...more
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe my luck. I stumbled across this gem while I was picking through the writing essays section in my library and did a little happy-dance when I saw the name on the cover. It was like finding a Spanish Dubloon mixed in with my pocket change.

This book is a fantastic analysis of science fiction and fantasy as a writing path and its place in society at large. I highly recommend it for fans of sci-fi particularly and those who are looking to write in the genre (or even people looking to
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Her discussions are better when highly targeted, and targeted on things other than her own work. She admits to writing intuitively, with the words coming from some level other than the analytic, so the essays talk in terms of symbolism, archetypes, and Jung. If this is not your thing, then the first fifty to seventy five pages are going to be real work and will not make you appreciate her fiction any more.

The criticisms--particularly "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" and "American SF and The Other-
Tom Meade
Few great critics are great writers. It's true that their ideas may topple dynasties with their brilliance, but that's only provided you can make head or tail of them after wading through three hundred pages of dry, tangled prose. And then there is the inevitable padding - ideas like brightly-coloured bits of cloth hanging from the thorns of brambles, as though the author had torn their way through the shrubs at great speed in terror that their readers might catch them and, holding them at knife ...more
Mary Catelli
A collection of her works on literature. Includes the famous "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" essay.

Both essays on the theory and on works -- her own and others, such as J.R.R. Tolkien. (She was writing in the day when Lin Carter's series meant a massive increase in the availability of fantasy.) She's a little over-fond of Jung as an interpretative lens for fiction. "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" is heavy on style, of course. Market pressure and its effects. Virginia Woolf's essay on Mrs. Brown an
.??? 80s: sf is ultimately... characters. humanist, liberal, modernist interpretation, where ideas inform but do not define the genres. manifesto for sociology-sciences inflected work. really liked this when i read this... decades ago...
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This isn't so much a review as an anecdote. When I was in high school, Ursula LeGuin came to Toronto to speak. I went for our school paper, of which I was the arts editor. I was a very serious journalist at the time; I had all my questions lined up, and everything but the fedora with the little press card in it. When it came my turn to ask her a question, I stood up. I worded it carefully, referencing the gist of the essay in question.
"Are we still afraid of dragons, or has speculative fiction
I first read The Language of the Night in about 1979, when it came out. I had enjoyed some of LeGuin's science fiction before that and had not known about her essays and nonfiction. My father gave me this book for Christmas, perhaps the only book and one of the few individually-chosen gifts he ever gave me. Perhaps the rarity of his gifts endowed it with special power, perhaps not; nonetheless, The Language of the Night opened my eyes to a new world: writers can cross genres, sci fi is fun but a ...more
S.W. Wilcox
May 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
This was almost a 4 for me, but the expectations it had to live up to teetered the 3.5 down to a 3. Piers Anthony's "Bio of an Ogre" remains the best in this category imo, along with some of Tolkien's essays.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, general
A really quite enlightening read.
Nov 12, 2008 marked it as partially-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Morgan by: Raphael Lyon
When it comes to the literature of the impossible and unlikely—myths, folktales, fantasy and science fiction—subgenres are delineated by how they become dated. The "myth" and the "legend" are timeless while the "folktale" takes on a rustic quaintness reminiscent of the quirks in the antiquated culture that produced it. But, as Le Guin notes, fantasy and science fiction rarely fare as well—or at least they didn't when she wrote the essays in The Language of the Night back in the 1970s. This colle ...more
Nicholas Whyte
Apr 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book has been strongly recommended to me for years, and I am glad I finally obtained it and read it. It is a collection of Le Guin's writings about sf and fantasy, almost all from 1973 to 1978 (one piece on Philip K. Dick dates from 1967), originally published in 1979 and revised for a 1989 edition. It is all fascinating stuff, with the standout essay being 'From Elfland to Poughkeepsie', which describes the rhetorical style of good (as opposed to b
Macallister Stone
This is one of the books about writing that I wish every writer would read, read, then read again. I've read these essays over and over--some of them were originally published nearly 40 years ago--and still find this a remarkable and breathtaking collection, offering invaluable perspective on life, genre, writing, and the nature of art.
Wendy Liu
Just ok. Lots of overlap with her other essay collections on writing.
I think I've heard Ursula Le Guin saying in an interview that she didn't particularly like writing non-fiction. She certainly excells at it. I picked this essay collection to read first because I was interested particularly in her thoughts on Jung, myth and fantasy literature. She did not disappoint. I recommend specifically the essays "Dreams Must Explain Themselves", "The Child and the Shadow" and "The Staring Eye". While these are the ones most relevant to my interests, I also thought they we ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Sep 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
I marked this book to read a few years ago without making note of where I'd read about it or who recommended it to me, but I remember enjoying LeGuin's novels very much so I had clearly thought it would be interesting to read these essays by her.

This book was published in 1979, and contains essays written as articles for magazines, introductions to works by her and by other authors, and speeches given. Because of these different genre, there is a fair amount of repetition, though as none of it i
Nov 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Passionate, inspiring, and friendly - the latter may not be the most obvious word, but this collection gave an impression of discussing sci-fi with Le Guin. Which would be delightful (if I ever had the courage, let alone a chance). Some essays are deeply personal, some veer into literary criticism - and there I found myself happily and ardently disagreeing with Le Guin's occasional elitism or faith in psychoanalysis - and some are the best pieces of advice from a writer I've ever gotten. I got t ...more
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been working away at this a few pages at a time and no more, because it's just so dense. Ursula is a person who has serious thoughts about things, stating ideas on sex, gender, race, society, writing, reading, genre, and beyond throughout this work that in nearly 50 years have only become more relevant to us today. I was lucky to read the second edition, which actually has the side by side of the original essay 'Is Gender Necessary' along with comments written against it ten years later, be ...more
This book includes the brilliant 15-page Le Guin essay "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie," which is essential reading for anyone who loves heroic fantasy and wonders why the genre seems to produce so little memorable material.
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
A really great collection of essays on the merit of SFF lit by one of the genre's great writers. Le Guin is witty and eloquent in her writing, championing SFF as worthy not only to be read, but to be studied and taken seriously by adult readers.
A good and powerful collection of essays that really makes me want to do my best with my own writing.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best collections of essays I had the pleasure of reading
I think this is the edition I have.

I doubt, based on her own works, whether LeGuin is capable of parsing or writing a grammar/dictionary of the language of the nocturnal. It's more a pidgin we've developed to try to communicate with diurnal people. So I'm not sure what LeGuin means when she talks about 'the Night', but suspect it's not the physical night.

One technical point: this book's running head only includes the name of the book, which makes it hard to find the end of one essay/the beginni
So good! Le Guin writes about writing with enervating clarity. Challenging. Write the truth! Love characters. Respect your form and your audience. I’ll return to these essays.
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic

May the goddesses bless your soul, Ursula Le Guin.
Scott Lee
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had reviewed this thing, had the review nearly finished and then hit a button (a wrong button apparently) and it all disappeared. I hate computers. But, as it is indubitably the result of user error, I digress.

I finished this today and discovered I hadn't entered it here on my "currently reading" list.

Le Guin is fantastic as always, and her defense of the genres of SF&F is impassioned, intelligent, and clear as mile-high mountain air. This book of nonfiction sees Le Guin defending SF against
Jamie Leighton
This compilation of essays by Ursula LeGuin made me want to read more science fiction and fantasy. Filled with memorable quotes, she examines science fiction, fantasy, gender, art, the work of other writers like Philip K. Dick, utopias, dystopias and yes, even Virginia Woolf. The most memorable essay is perhaps, "Science Fiction and Mrs. Brown." Virginia Woolk is in a train sitting across from a woman she calls "Mrs. Brown." This Mrs. Brown, who asked a question about an oak tree and caterpillar ...more
Debby Zigenis-Lowery
It was interesting returning to Language of the Night, by Ursula Le Guin, thirty years after my initial reading of it.

When I first read it, I was in my early twenties, fresh off a Science Fiction class in my college career at Berkeley, and considering trying to write fantasy fiction.

Now, I have actually written seven fantasy novels, having spent many years bounding off onto a new one instead of seriously seeking publication. Something that has definitely changed in the last decade.

I had fallen i
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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, Orego ...more

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