Shayne's Reviews > Lavinia

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin
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's review
Sep 10, 2008

really liked it
Recommended for: Le Guin fans, people with an interest in mythology
Read in November, 2008

I gave this book four stars for its credible evocation of a very different time and place; for the feeling it gave of research thoroughly done but applied with a light hand; and most of all for the beauty of Le Guin's prose. The lady simply has a way with words.

Lavinia never speaks a word in The Aeneid; Le Guin gives her a voice. She also has Lavinia muse on her own status as the creation of a poet, and the form of limited immortality her incomplete rendering gives her. The book can be read as a simple narrative, and as an invitation to the reader to muse on the roles of creator and created.

Le Guin's cool, detached style meant I wasn't moved by this story, even when it was recounting tragic loss. Lavinia tells us she adored Aeneas, and I believed her—because she's an honest girl, not because I felt her emotion. Her Lavinia reminded me quite a lot of Tenar, who is one of my favourites of Le Guin's creations. They have much of the same strength, patience, and devotion to duty.

This is a fine piece of work, and a pleasure to read.
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