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Four Ways to Forgiveness by Ursula K. Le…

Four Ways to Forgiveness (1994)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I'm adding a shelf for books recommended by the Feminist SciFi blog of books to read this election season.
  roniweb | May 30, 2019 |
Good. What makes all 4 short stories connected is revolution, male/female relations.
[read 2003-15 yr ago] ( )
  juniperSun | Jan 18, 2019 |
It took me ages to actually finish this book, despite my love for LeGuin and her Hainish world. I'm sure if I had starred this right after I finished (the second try) the rating would be higher, but looking back I don't have any striking memories of loving it. Perhaps on another read. ( )
  omgitsafox | Jul 23, 2018 |
I cannot say that this is Le Guin's best book--that honor still goes to [The Left Hand of Darkness], I think--but this is quite possibly her most beautifully written and most emotionally affecting book. That I can say.

Set on neighboring planets, Werel and Yeowe, this collection of four novellas is a study of relationships: between a man and a woman, between men and women, between enslavers and enslaved, between natives and foreigners. As we read these stories--which, at their cores, are all love stories--we learn the history of a civilization that mirrors our own in uncomfortable ways. Le Guin has structured this book perfectly, beginning with a slow and subtle introduction to this society and gradually building to an emotional crescendo.

The first two novellas could be paired with each other, as could the last two. In each of the first two stories, an unlikely relationship forms between a man and a woman. Thrown together by circumstance, they move past their initial assumptions and prejudices, and first see, then come to love, the other. The first story, Betrayals, is quiet, reminiscent, and almost elegiac in its tone, told from the point of view of an older woman in self-exile who believes that her life is essentially over when she rediscovers love. Only a bit of Yeowe's turbulent history is revealed; once a planet of slaves, there was a long and violent revolutionary war, and the planet's inhabitants dispelled their enslavers back to Werel and won their independence. In the second story, Forgiveness Day, more is revealed about these two planets' societies, particularly the strict separation of men and women and general oppression of women on Werel. An envoy from the federation of planets called the Ekumen, a young woman, arrives on Werel and shocks her bodyguard, a former soldier, with her behavior. But when they are kidnapped together, they come to know each other as people and, eventually, to accept each other on equal terms.

The second two novellas are also a pair, more closely related. A Man of the People tells the story of another Ekumen envoy, providing a rare glimpse of life on Hain, where he is from, and how historians are trained. Once he arrives on Yeowe, he becomes aware of the societal oppression of women and is drawn into the women's liberation movement, which he subtly affects as he can from his position as an influential outsider. The final story, "A Woman's Liberation," is the most powerful and emotionally wrenching of the four. Le Guin reveals without flinching the brutal history of these two planets, as experienced by one woman, who is first a slave, then liberated, then enslaved again as a "use woman," a sexual slave, then escapes to Yeowe, where she thinks she will be free. There she finds a still total oppression of women, and she eventually joins the underground liberation movement, where she meets the Hainish envoy. As their love grows, she is able to let go of her past, to forgive herself and her people for their history. She is able to fully become who she is meant to be, to help bring about true liberation and document the history so the past won't be repeated. And she is able to love, as an equal. This was such a powerful, moving piece of writing that I can't do it justice in describing it.

For those longtime fans of Le Guin's science fiction, this collection has an added bonus: a supplemental brief history of Hain, a tantalizing society that we have before only glimpsed in her work, and the history of the Ekumen. This is a book I am sure I will return to again and again, the product of a great (and underappreciated) writer at the height of her abilities. ( )
3 vote sturlington | Jul 8, 2016 |
"It is in our bodies that we lose or begin our freedom, in our bodies that we accept or end our slavery."

Ursula Le Guin is my hero.
  Marjorie_Jensen | Nov 12, 2015 |
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"On the planet O there has not been a war for five thousand years," she read, "and on Gethen there has never been a war."
It is in our bodies that we lose or begin our freedom, in our bodies that we accept or end our slavery.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006076029X, Paperback)

Ursula K. Le Guin revisits her popular Hainish universe with four interconnected stories that together weave a tapestry of revolution and political turmoil. Le Guin tells the tale of two worlds where decades of slavery and class distinction are about to come to an end. She begins at the end with the story of a woman who survived the perilous times and now must face what comes after. Then in turn come tales of a naive envoy, an aloof observer forced to choose sides, and a young slave who wins freedom, only to confront the bonds of her own mind.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:33 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A revolt of slaves in space ends in disillusion for the women. The men have become free, but the women are oppressed as ever. So, on one of the planets women launch their own war of liberation.

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