The Dispossessed Mass Market Paperback – 1975
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About the Author
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin was born in 1929 in Berkeley, and lives in Portland, Oregon. As of 2014, she has published twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry, and four of translation, and has received many honors and awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, and PEN/Malamud. Her most recent publications are Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems and The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories.--This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I come up with Eric Frank Russell's Gands in _The Great Explosion_ (" . . . And Then There Were None"), Robert A. Heinlein's Loonies in _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_, and Ursula K. Le Guin's Anarresti in _The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia_.
Oh, there are a handful of others, notably James Hogan's _Voyage from Yesteryear_ (which was itself strongly influenced by Russell). But most of the rest are thinly disguised libertarian propaganda without a great deal of literary merit (though your mileage may vary).
Of these three, Le Guin's is in some ways the most compelling. In part that's because she's just such a fine writer. But it's also because she's probably the _least_ "ideological" of all the SF writers who have ever tackled this subject.
On Le Guin's somewhat Taoistic approach, each of the contrasting societies contains the seeds of the other, and she lets the reader see both their "good" and "bad" points. She clearly likes the Anarresti society (and on the whole it comes off rather better than its Urrasti foil). But she doesn't hesitate to show the reader some of its critically important drawbacks. Its childrearing practices, for example, recall Ira Levin's _This Perfect Day_, and its treatment of original thinkers (and their "egoizing") even recalls Ayn Rand's tub-thumpingly propagandistic _Anthem_.
In general, then, Le Guin is pretty well immune to the usual salvation-by-ideology claptrap. And as her subtitle suggests, her utopia really _is_ ambiguous. For her, people aren't "saved" by adopting the correct philosophical position or social principles.Read more ›
Note: The Perrenial Classics edition of this book (not this edition) is much more sturdy and readable, if a little more pricy.
Set in the same universe of LeGuin's other space stories, _The_Dispossessed_ critiques the capitalism of late 20th century Western culture, with its proxy wars and gender inequities, the failings of idealized communist societies which succumb to human drives for power through buereacracy, as well as the drive in both to maintain a status quo.
In addition, Shevek's struggle to unify linear and circular views of temporal physics parallels Einstein's (or Ainsetain's (sic))and modern physics struggles to unify general relativity with quantum mechanics. This, along with insights into the perils of dual career families and academic politics round out the tale.
Shevek, is perhaps the only fully realized character and he serves as the readers eyes onto the two Cetian societies and thus the aforementioned critique of our own. So, while I did identify and feel empathy for Shevek, it was the social descriptions and plot which kept me from putting the book down more than once to sleep, over the course of 24 hours.
Are you possessed by your possessions? by your ideas?
Most recent customer reviews
In Ursula K LeGuin's The Dispossessed, several cultures collide when Shevek, a physicist from a culture without private property, travels to a 'propertied' world while working on a... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jayson Vavrek
Great service, book arrived super fast. Great book, goes a little slow but not so slow it is makes it unpleasant to read. Read morePublished 24 months ago by diana meister
One of the most overtly political science fiction novels - and one certainly deserving of the term "speculative fiction" - ever published, "The Dispossessed" remains Ursula K. Read morePublished on July 19 2012 by John Kwok
The Dispossessed is one of my favourite books - one that almost always gets re-read when I pick it up just by accident. Ursula K. Read morePublished on Nov. 1 2004 by Andrew Thomson
There is a planet called Urras. To earthling readers in 1974 it is remarkably familiar, dominated politically by the highly centralized communist state of Thu and the dynamic... Read morePublished on March 7 2004 by snalen
LeGuin does for anarchosyndicalism what Ayn Rand attempts to do for capitalism. The difference? LeGuin succeeds. Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2004 by Robert J. Kolker
There are three groups of people in the world: those whose favorite LeGuin book is THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS; those whose favorite LeGuin book is THE DISPOSSESSED; and ... Read morePublished on Sept. 14 2003 by Chris Moriarty, author of SPIN STATE (Bantam 2003)
I read this book years ago and have re-read it many times. It and Left Hand of Darkness are my favorite novels by LeGuin. Both books start with a what-if premise. Read morePublished on Sept. 10 2003 by J. Badger