Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: The Dispossessed

The Dispossessed
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’ and ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ (see reviews), ‘The Dispossessed’ is a read that reads you back.

Along with its engaging, intriguing, edgy story, there is Le Guin’s customary thought-provocation. The novel is set in two twin worlds: a verdant world of plenty whose inhabitants freely war with one another, and an arid world of scarcity whose inhabitants agree on a strict unity. The novel is a fascinating meditation on the polarities and paradoxes that spring from this binary setting. What is the difference between unity and uniformity? When freedom brings exploitation and conflict is it a blessing or a curse? Is idealism better than individualism?

I’m reminded (a little) of ‘Animal Farm’ – but in a galaxy far, far away, with an author who doesn't take sides (Le Guin gives us various ‘pig’ candidates, but no-one is unambiguously declared the winner of that dubious honorific).

The questions this novel raises (and refuses to answer entirely) are important to me. Community, sharing, unity, equality – these ideals have shaped my life and those of my closest friends. So what about when community quashes individuality, when nobody owning means nobody caring, when unity becomes uniformity, when equality gets confused with equivalency? Give up and sell out to the consumer dream (=nightmare)? Me genoito!

I will read this again, I am sure of it. And it will read me again.

View all my reviews

No comments: