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The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle) (Cover may Vary) Mass Market Paperback – October 20, 1994
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“One of the greats….Not just a science fiction writer; a literary icon.” – Stephen King
From the brilliant and award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin comes a classic tale of two planets torn apart by conflict and mistrust — and the man who risks everything to reunite them.
A bleak moon settled by utopian anarchists, Anarres has long been isolated from other worlds, including its mother planet, Urras—a civilization of warring nations, great poverty, and immense wealth. Now Shevek, a brilliant physicist, is determined to reunite the two planets, which have been divided by centuries of distrust. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have kept them apart.
To visit Urras—to learn, to teach, to share—will require great sacrifice and risks, which Shevek willingly accepts. But the ambitious scientist's gift is soon seen as a threat, and in the profound conflict that ensues, he must reexamine his beliefs even as he ignites the fires of change.
“Written with thought, care—even love.” — Times Literary Supplement (London)
“Excellent characterization and meaningful ideas make this one of the most important [science fiction] novels of the last several years.” — Library Journal
“This novel, by a celebrated Hungarian poet, depicts the world of his childhood…The narrator, a young boy whose family is shunned-it was once wealthy and is suspected of being Jewish-endures beatings, hunger, and taunts with the fatalism of someone who has never known anything else.” — New Yorker
“Le Guin’s characters, sepecially Shevek and his family, are complex and haunting, and her writing is remarkable for its sinewy grace.” — Time magazine
“Engrossing . . . Ursula Le Guin is more than just a writer of adult fantasy and science fiction . . . she is a philosopher; an explorer in the landscapes of the mind.” — Cincinnati Enquirer
“A seamless creation: every thing is made up, nothing seems arbitrary...Le Guin’s book [is] written in her solid, no-nonsense prose.” — New York Times Book Review
“Brilliantly conceived and stunningly executed . . . The setting is science fiction, but the tradition is humanistic, reducing life to its essentials and examining human beings in a real world.” — Chicago Daily News
“The novel flashes back and forth . . . and delicately develops both the strengths and weaknesses of the two social systems, the contrasting textures of the two kinds of social experience . . . All through, this impresses with small but incalculably right choices which add up solidly and confirm Ms. Le Guin as one of our finest projectionists of brave old and other worlds.” — Kirkus Reviews
From the Back Cover
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.
- Publisher : Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (October 20, 1994)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0061054887
- ISBN-13 : 978-0061054884
- Lexile measure : 820L
- Item Weight : 6.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.19 x 1 x 6.75 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #18,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on August 4, 2018
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This book is a must read. It also includes an english professor's reading guide at 94% that includes a brief synopsis of the social situation at the time the novel was written to help explain why the author wrote the book the way she did and then poses thought provoking questions about each chapter. I suggest that you read this guide first and then read each chapter and try to answer the questions in the reading guide and repeat until you have completed the novel. Reading the book in this way will be a far more moving and enjoyable experience.
One of my favorite novels of any genre. Tackles all the right questions. Challenges all political schools of thought, institutions of science, morality, industry. Does so fairly and develops compelling characters. Finds meaning in the meaningless suffering, on the level of a Dostoyevsky novel, compares favorably to The Idiot especially. A powerful message without ever preaching. Especially if you're interested in physics, this is a great book to read. If you're new to science fiction or have no interest in physics, this is a great place to start, being one of the most underrated classics.
The book jacket summarizes the story well. This Ursula Le Guin novel is a tale of a utopian society, and the characters that struggle to keep it a utopia. It is a multi-layered novel. I think readers have and will get different messages depending on their circumstances. Its story is certainly relevant to what's occurring in politics today. Highly recommended.
I never thought I'd say this about one of her novels or stories.
This book chronicles the related people of twin planets, one previously colonized by settlers from the other. The narrative vividly contrasts various types of social organization and behavior, including freedom (and the lack of it), government (and the lack of it), mutual cooperation and competition, and so forth. While the differences seem stark at first, the subtleties become more apparent as more is revealed. It not only entertains but forces the reader to think about alternate ways of living that have been dismissed or not considered before.
The story is delivered mostly from the view of the protagonist, from two different periods in his life. The movement back and forth from his earlier life to his later life helps with a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the tale. The timelines come together eventually, of course, but the beauty of the book is in the wholeness of the telling.
The author occasionally creates words, or at least they appear to be created as they are new to me and not in dictionaries or wikipedia, but these created words have meanings that are obvious. They add to the beautiful fabric of the chronicle.
Top reviews from other countries
The problem with many of these so-called master works is that their vision is utterly out of date. Maybe in 1974 readers were surprised by the portrayal of humanoids in alien societies, and the casual imagining of other social and political systems. But films like Logan's Run, Star Wars, Blade Runner and Total Recall all set new standards and the best SF creation since has maintained the principle that you have to have a special world and you have to have a good story inside it. So, into the trash it goes and press Eject.
The story is both simple and complex, much like Le Guin’s style of writing. There’s something contemplative about the way she writes, as if there’s a gap between what she writes and what she means, and inside that distance lies infinity. It’s enchanting.
At its heart, this book examines the walls we build, and how to unbuild them. It’s about the search for reconciliation. It explores two opposing worlds, and the story’s structure highlights the dichotomies that Le Guin so thoroughly immerses the reader in.
In terms of world-building, it’s flawless. Its ideas are deep, but told elegantly. It provokes thought, stirs emotion, and turns revolution into revelation.
This is a book to return to again and again. It stays with you. Once you’ve read it, you won’t want to be dispossessed of it.
Briefly putting this novel: it focuses more on character development of the protagonist & his interactions with societies and side characters. This is definitely not a plot-driven novel.
There is no antagonist, actually, the legal environment and culture is just a restriction & frustration.
I really like this novel & considerate a classic in my collection just based on the fact that it's so diverse from the others, that its more about the character & his struggles/triumphs rather than the plot.