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The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
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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
5,426None797 (4.14)1 / 286
  1. 41
    His Master's Voice by Stanisław Lem (TMrozewski)
    TMrozewski: Both deal with the social and cultural roots of science.
  2. 30
    The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (Algybama)
  3. 20
    Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin (sturlington)
    sturlington: Compare and contrast.
  4. 20
    Worlds of Exile and Illusion by Ursula K. Le Guin (sturlington)
  5. 10
    Rocannon's world by Ursula K. Le Guin (andomck)
    andomck: Both are books in the Hainish Cycle.
  6. 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.
  7. 00
    Distress by Greg Egan (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: These books share isolated anarchist communities and discoveries in physics that change everything.
  8. 45
    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
  9. 02
    The Necessary Beggar by Susan Palwick (MyriadBooks)
  10. 24
    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (LamontCranston)
  11. 216
    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (lauranav)
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English (108)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  Turkish (1)  All languages (112)
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
The Dispossessed is fascinating futuristic story of two societies, one a Utopian anarchist society the other a world similar to ours. The story follows Shevek as he becomes the first traveler to leave anarchist society and visit the other world.
The author, Usula Le Guin, is able to create and explain this fascinating anarchist society through the lives and actions of the characters in such an amazing way. It's a really interesting read. ( )
  ariahfine | Feb 6, 2014 |
Did not finish ( )
  rossarn | Feb 4, 2014 |
Geniuses does not fit into any society; and every society is dependent on them. ( )
  BruceCoulson | Jan 29, 2014 |
The first book I ever read in English. I was aiming too high I think. I should have started with something easier. ( )
  crdf | Sep 15, 2013 |
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, improbable roads and cities of fidelity: a landscape inhabitable by human beings.

It is not until an act occurs within the landscape of the past and the future that it is a human act. Loyalty, which asserts the continuity of past and future, binding time into a whole, is the root of human strength; there is no good to be done without it.
I am a selfish and impractical person when it comes to many things in life, and literature is no exception. It's not enough for the book to be worthy in its own merit, whatever attributes of prose, plot, parcel of fact and fiction it brings to the table for my judgment. For I will judge, but more than that, I will steal and stow away any piece and passage that is worthy of my doing so. More than that, I will build my own string of words and fancies off the standard structure, disguising them under that formulaic word of 'review' and letting them loose on the grandest forum technology has thus far provided. Simply put, appreciation is no longer enough, if there is no room for me to create.

Not a very stable concept, is it? To take a work of seeming completeness and force it into strange and subjective shapes, to be unsatisfied with sitting back and letting the simple phrase of 'This is what I thought of the book...' speak for the full experience of that particular reading. To distrust the shortcuts of words, the 'speculative fiction', the 'Ursula K. Le Guin', all those key terminology characteristics that first attracted me to considering the work worthy of my attention.

Worthy of my attention? What is that? What is my 'attention', per se, one that has made a business of malcontent with institutions, ideologies, and has given up any hope of finding refuge in any one-time ready-made form, anything that does not shift and slither and mutate with every passing second, season, generation?

Exactly that, really. For I am a creature bound by time and its limited infinity, its cyclical progress, its complex web where the facts are as driven by the abstract as by the scientific method, however much people would like to believe otherwise. A person who, by the matters of coincidence and consequence, will be easily won over by any piece of media that considers science as beautiful as it considers art. A simple matter, one would think, but also a lie of simplification, deceptively mundane if one doesn't mention examples of successful media. The Magic Mountain, by Thomas Mann. The works of Pynchon. Others that I cannot recall for fault of my own limited recollection, a thought as fascinating and as frightful as the void itself, for how much is holding my own opinions worth when I cannot even keep all the parameters of it within the limits of instantaneous retrieval forevermore? And this one, one that's forced me to further expand and complicate my definition of what I 'like', as evidenced by the disparity in complex depth between it and the former works.

An excellent thought experiment when it comes to the 'lie of simplification', really. For this book does not attempt to achieve reality through constant bombardment of ideas, or strain the lines of connective tissue between branches of knowledge to the point of nonsensical pride and fearful rejection. Instead, you have the simple elegance of a mathematical proof, bound up in the terms of biological fact and empathetic concern, solving the factor of an ever progressing instant with an ever widening calcification of history behind it, on a ship of constants built by the dead in hopes for the living.

The answer? You'd have a better chance of finding stabilized truth in the Uncertainty Principle, where change is not a means to the end, but one and the same. A theorem that, despite its incontrovertible reality, has not yet led the entire scientific community into a mass existential crisis, but has also not yet led the public consciousness to the realization that there is inherent futility in seeking a life within a label. Of course, the labels that are inherently tied up with a consideration for the unceasing flow of time and all the resulting chaos of such a concept are likely to do better. But the fact of the matter remains that, with every new self, every forward momentum of knowledge and insight, from a child on one side of the world gazing at a cave painting daubed in some unknown past millenia, to a child on the other grasping the instantaneous crossfire of the Internet faster than its makers, the labels are no more than a guideline. Easily fitted, easily discarded, easily broken down and cannibalized by those who only have use for bits and pieces of it. A constant evolution frightening for the majority of those who wish only for balance with the existing structure, and will not or cannot afford to sacrifice livelihood for the inevitability of progress.

A difficult situation, for those who have equally invested their interests in the maintenance of their self and the future of humanity. A simultaneous transience, that requires an ever watchful eye on the facts of the world at large as well as the delicate clockwork of the only mind at one's disposal. An effort sustained by the thought that the effort will never be complete, with the kinder words of uniqueness and altruism inextricably bound up with those of egotism and naivety, where one kith and kind of knowledgeable insight will never, truly, be enough, no matter how much compartmentalization the simple act of socializing in theorized, standardized, economized forms demands.

I read to discover, and write in full knowledge that the discovery will never be enough. I am grateful for what the world can give me, and criticize in full knowledge of my ungratefulness. I balance my consumption with my delivery, and find as much glory in the cold curves of physics as I do in the complex vagaries of philosophy. I am here, and if you try to convince me of a label, or attempt to label me, I will look, and listen, and give you as much benefit of a doubt as fits within the society defined realms of politeness and my personal realms of social behavior. Keep in mind, though, the constant give and take of truth and empathy will always be more fruitful than the demand for an unchanging acquiescence to anything at all, much as the simplistic equations of calculable chemistry disguise a fierce and frothing equilibrium at every level of growth and decay. If you insist otherwise, I will drift away, for I am a selfish and impractical person when it comes my maxim that conventions are never enough, and all my efforts to learn will always hold equal footing with my valuing of personal sensibilities of what it means to be human."My race is very old," Ketho said. "We have been civilized for a thousand millenia. We have histories of hundreds of those millenia. We have tried everything. Anarchism, with the rest. But I have not tried it. They say there is nothing new under any sun. But if each life is not new, each single life, then why are we born?" ( )
  Korrick | Sep 12, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ursula K. Le Guinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ducak, DaniloCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ebel, AlexCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyytäjä, KaleviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagetti, CarloForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AnthonyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Valla, RiccardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winkowski, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. An adult could look right over it, and even a child could climb it. Where it crossed the roadway, instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a line, an idea of boundary. But the idea was real. It was important. For seven generations there had been nothing in the world more important than that wall.
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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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:16 -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 3 descriptions

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