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The Dispossessed: A Novel

The Dispossessed: A Novel

Written by Ursula K. Le Guin

Narrated by Don Leslie


The Dispossessed: A Novel

Written by Ursula K. Le Guin

Narrated by Don Leslie

ratings:
4.5/5 (190 ratings)
Length:
13 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Sep 14, 2010
ISBN:
9780062025449
Format:
Audiobook

Description

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 mother planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.

Publisher:
Released:
Sep 14, 2010
ISBN:
9780062025449
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (1929-2018) was a celebrated author whose body of work includes 23 novels, 12 volumes of short stories, 11 volumes of poetry, 13 children’s books, five essay collections, and four works of translation. The breadth and imagination of her work earned her six Nebula Awards, seven Hugo Awards, and SFWA’s Grand Master, along with the PEN/Malamud and many other award. In 2014 she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and in 2016 joined the short list of authors to be published in their lifetimes by the Library of America.



Reviews

What people think about The Dispossessed

4.5
190 ratings / 107 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    Le Guin's idealism is exhilarating and inspiring and *real* despite the completely fantastic setting and situation. She shows the hardships of her utopia, and her perspective of a stranger being introduced to decadent capitalism is so astute. One of my favourite books ever. Everyone with left-wing progressive politics should read it.
  • (4/5)
    All of the high praise I have seen on Litsy about this one is well deserved. I don't think I've read a sci-fi book before that made me think about things as much as The Dispossessed did. LeGuin managed to say a whole lot about a wide range of sociopolitical issues while also telling a compelling and exciting story in two worlds.
  • (3/5)
    Oof. This book was a lot. I think I enjoyed it overall, but it had its very rough moments. High minded and heavy handed, at times, it is a study of humanity and philosophy. An argument told through time and distance.
  • (3/5)
    This was a very slow read for me, and I'm not sure I can articulate why. It may be that there's very little plot to the novel, and also relatively little science fiction -- this is a book of philosophy in which the other pieces are scaffolding and that made it hard to pick back up each day, in some ways.There's a lot to chew on in this novel -- I liked engaging with the philosophical ideas about social structures, political structures, the role of women, the use of constructed language to reinforce social ideas. The subtitle "ambiguous utopia" fits well since what we are supposed to take from the different societies of the two planets is ambiguous.
  • (4/5)
    In the wake of the author's death I wanted to return to this novel, her ostensible masterpiece, as I bounced off it as a young man and wanted to see if age and experience had made me think better of the work. While there is some fine writing here, and the still-useful lesson that while utopia might not be practical when there is a poverty of resources that when one lacks ideals resources are insufficient to make for a better society, I don't feel as though this novel has aged very well. Keep in mind that at the time of publishing science fiction was still suffering from a pronounced cultural cringe so a novel that looked like real literature was a useful weapon to use against the doubters. That said, this story does depend very much on the Cold War trope of the dissident as a tragic and romantic figure and I'm not sure that's really a vital symbol anymore.
  • (5/5)
    This book tells the story of Shevek, a brilliant physicist who developed the Principle of Simultaneity - a theory that would revolutionise interstellar communications in the form of the ansible, an instantaneous communications device found in many of Le Guin's novels. But the story is also a strong commentary on political systems, particularly the anarchic communal system that Shevek was born into and grew up in, where there is no government, equality is the expected norm, but incumbency and power games prevail. At 40, Shevek moves from his home planet to its sister planet and the country of A-Io, that is male dominated, where the political system is supposedly democratic but inequality is rife, power is everything, and money rules. A-Io's main rival, Thu, is an autocratic communist country, where power is just as dominant. A third country, Benbili, is ruled by a dictator, but experiences a coup. A-Io sends troops and weapons to back the dictator, while Thu sends troops and weapons to back the rebels resulting in a proxy war.This book was written in the early 1970s at a time when the Vietnam War was waning in popularity in the US, President Nixon was on the nose, and the rivalry between the capitalist US and the communist Soviet Union was reflected in the proxy war in Vietnam. But the lessons about power and its abuse, money and property as reflected in the inequality between the haves and have nots, and ideology are strong and just as relevant today as they were over 40 years ago.The story is one of hope: for change, for the future, for overcoming resistance and the power of the elite and the incumbent. But it is also a lesson that if we don't recognise the dangers inherent in overbearing centralised power and bureaucracy then we are doomed to live our lives as outcasts in poverty. This lesson is especially relevant today in a fast changing world with strong central governments wanting to limit our freedom. I give the story 5 stars.Finally, it's worth reading the Wikipedia entry for this book to get other viewpoints and reactions to this story.