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The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Dispossessed (1974)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Hainish Cycle (5), Hainish Cycle, Chronological (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,354164757 (4.13)1 / 449
Recently added byprivate library, croberts0802, Eliorb, FourFreedoms, Nazgul93, Steven-Dierks, BeeWolf
  1. 61
    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (Algybama)
  2. 20
    Island by Aldous Huxley (themulhern)
    themulhern: Two utopian books. The advantage of LeGuin's is that it doesn't have anything worth exploiting and it is a rocket flight away.
  3. 31
    His Master's Voice by Stanisław Lem (TMrozewski)
    TMrozewski: Both deal with the social and cultural roots of science.
  4. 20
    Rocannon's World by Ursula K. Le Guin (andomck)
    andomck: Both are books in the Hainish Cycle.
  5. 10
    New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson (LamontCranston)
  6. 10
    Embassytown by China Miéville (sparemethecensor)
  7. 00
    Doctor Mirabilis by James Blish (jpers36)
    jpers36: Life story of a genius physicist destined to revolutionize a stagnant culture with his radical scientific insights.
  8. 00
    Amatka by Karin Tidbeck (andomck)
  9. 11
    Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock (andomck)
    andomck: Brooding,introspective sci fi/fantasy
  10. 00
    Distress by Greg Egan (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: These books share isolated anarchist communities and discoveries in physics that change everything.
  11. 01
    The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (themulhern)
    themulhern: Two opposing cultures collide in both works. Urras = The Empire but their opposites (Annares and The Culture) have very little in common. Annares is determined by scarcity, the Culture by its lack.
  12. 02
    The Necessary Beggar by Susan Palwick (MyriadBooks)
  13. 57
    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: A different moon, a different anti-authoritarian community, but the same experience of thinking about other ways to run human societies
  14. 25
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (LamontCranston)
  15. 318
    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (lauranav)
1970s (85)
Walls (8)

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English (157)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Turkish (1)  All languages (164)
Showing 1-5 of 157 (next | show all)
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. ( )
2 vote xiaomarlo | Apr 17, 2019 |
Very well written - quite a lot of impact from not a lot of words. Interesting exploration of ideas. ( )
  TravbudJ | Feb 19, 2019 |
What is there to be said? I am in awe.

I have written before about my awe at Le Guin's talent. Her science fiction pushes boundaries of philosophy and society. Her books on other civilizations makes me look differently at our own.

'The Dispossessed' is a powerful story about Shevek, a physicist, who is brought to the planet Urras, specifically the nation of A-Io, because his brand of thinking is the missing link to a major scientific breakthrough.

He comes from Urras' moon/twin planet Anarres which was settled 150 years before as an anarchist society. The societies have had nothing to do with each other since then and Shevek must face hostilities on both sides and try to reconcile his beliefs and those of his hosts. The novel is tightly constructed, alternating chapters of Shevek's present in Urras and his life growing up on Anarres.

But it goes beyond the plot. Without sugar-coating or apologies, Le Guin illustrates how such a society would work, what is possible and, most importantly, what is not possible. There is a reason that "Utopian" fiction has virtually disappeared. There are few writers who could so deftly create a revolutionary society as Le Guin does and clarify and distill so many radical ideologies into as she does in her Odonism.

If I had read this in high school my idealistic rebel stage would have flown into overdrive. Even now I can see the real value that Odonism has and understand exactly the loathing Shevek could put into the words profiteer and propertarian. This is a book that's perfect for debate and discussion, I wish I was an English teacher, or a philosophy professor. Anybody who could introduce this book to as many people as possible. I am going to be reading this again.

Hainish Cycle

Note, the story collection 'The Wind's Twelve Quarters' is essential for the stories 'Day Before the Revolution", which is a companion to 'The Dispossessed', and for "Vaster Than Empires And More Slow"

Next: 'Four Ways to Forgiveness'

Previous: 'The Word for World is Forest' ( )
1 vote ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
“Freedom,” says Shevek, “is never very safe.” It’s a warning with two interpretations: freedom is inherently dangerous, and freedom is always in danger of being lost. With wonderfully nuanced explorations of these and other themes, this is the most thought-provoking novel I’ve read in a long time. ( )
1 vote brokensandals | Feb 7, 2019 |
This novel was published with a blurb The magnificent epic of an ambiguous utopia!, which later became an unofficial subtitle of the book. While it is listed as a part of the ‘Hainish Cycle’, all books are quite independent and can be perfectly read as stand-alone novels: they are linked only by the common universe.
The story setting is as follows: there are two worlds orbiting each other (each sees another as the moon). The older and larger world, Urras is more or less similar to the Earth in the second part of XXth century: one capitalist superpower, A-IO (think the USA), one Stalinist socialist state, Thu (even sounding like SU, Soviet Union), and a third-world country, where the first two make proxy wars. The other world, Anares, is a barren place to which about 200 years ago, anarchists from Urras were sent and created a community. The ambiguous utopia is this anarchist non-propertarian / non-centralized communism / left libertarianism. It is not a classical utopia, where everything is correct. On the opposite, there are a lot of problems, they are just different from problems in the ‘usual’ world.
I have to admit, I’m typically quite skeptical with socialist leanings of many western authors, SF or not. I was born and grew up in the USSR and I experienced (or read about, or heard from family and friends) a great number of disadvantages of such a system and I highly doubt that there is a problem in execution and not in the theory. Therefore, it takes lot to persuade me in advantages of any leftist system. However, as a proponent of individual freedoms I like many ideas of anarchism and libertarianism. As a result I greatly enjoyed the way the life in this anarchist society was described, even if I still doubt some aspects.
This is a great thought-provoking book, recommended to anyone interested how the society without private property can thrive.
( )
1 vote Oleksandr_Zholud | Jan 9, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 157 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (71 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ursula K. Le Guinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bontrup, HiltrudTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burns, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Craft, KinukoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ducak, DaniloCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ebel, AlexCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ewyck, Annemarie vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Körber, JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leslie, DonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nölle, KarenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyytäjä, KaleviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagetti, CarloForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AnthonyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sârbulescu, EmilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valla, RiccardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winkowski, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There was a wall.
You shall not go down twice to the same river, nor can you go home again. That he knew; indeed it was the basis of his view of the world. Yet from that acceptance of transience he evolved his vast theory, wherein what is most changeable is shown to be fullest of eternity, and your relationship to the river, and the river's relationship to you and to itself, turns out to be at once more complex and more reassuring than a mere lack of identity. You can go home again, the General Temporal Theory asserts, so long as you understand that home is a place where you have never been.
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Book description
The protagonist Shevek is a physicist attempting to develop a General Temporal Theory. Anarres is in theory a society without government or coercive authoritarian institutions. Yet in pursuing research that deviates from his society's current consensus understanding, Shevek begins to come up against very real obstacles. Shevek gradually develops an understanding that the revolution which brought his world into being is stagnating, and power structures are beginning to exist where there were none before. He therefore embarks on the risky journey to the original planet, Urras, seeking to open dialog between the worlds and to spread his theories freely outside of Anarres. The novel details his struggles on both Urras and his homeworld of Anarres.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061054887, Mass Market Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:08 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Shevek, a brilliant physicist attempts to reunite two planets cut off from each other by centuries of distrust.

» see all 5 descriptions

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