The Dispossessed

An Ambiguous Utopia

Paperback, 341 pages

English language

Published Aug. 11, 1999 by Gollancz.

ISBN:
978-1-85798-882-6
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4 stars (179 reviews)

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 planet, Anarres, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.

1 edition

Slow start, and good book with a major detractor

4 stars

This was a slow starter, but I quite liked it when it got going, it's a really fun exploration of an anarchist communist and a plutocratic capitalist society meeting.

There is only one bad thing, a rape scene a bit before the half way point that felt gratuitous and not needed, and it served very little purpose in the story, apart from that I really liked the book :)

Everyone should read this.

5 stars

It's a fascinating work of speculative fiction that explores the ideas around systems of self-governance (or lack thereof), written by a brilliant thinker and writer. Some of the passages in this novel are so achingly beautiful they could turn even a salty borderline-nihilist into an idealist - even if only for a few very pretty moments.

I suppose I have to figure out my missing old reviews

5 stars

Walls beyond walls.

Re-read 2020: Upped to 5 stars. Still a bit of a slow start and interspersed philosophical explainers, but I appreciate the complexities of this "evolving utopia" more than before, the human and social and intergenerational tensions she walks through in making the case complicated.

Review of 'The Dispossessed' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

It's incredibly hard to make you believe in a utopia, but The Dispossessed manages it. Anarres feels like a real place, the people who live there feel like real people. If anything, it is the Earth-like Urras which feels slightly flat. If I have quibbles about this book, they are all on Urras.

Review of 'The Dispossessed' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Good:
Speculative fiction at its finest.
Great society & world building, shown through a lens of a single life.
Two timelines nicely intertwine & support each other.
The scenes of hardship & revolution resonate deeply.
* Evokes the feeling of classic Sci-Fi without any problematic elements often associated with it.

Bad: ∅

For a depiction of a similar theme check out John Kessel's [b:The Moon and the Other|30753686|The Moon and the Other|John Kessel|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1491126501l/30753686.SY75.jpg|51302140].

Review of 'The Dispossessed' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

"I come here with empty hands and the desire to unbuild walls."

LeGuin is fearless in her criticism of capitalism and patriarchy, her wordlbuilding, and her radical view of society and what it could be. This book is a breath of fresh air in allowing me to imagine, for a moment, what it would be like to live in a world built on principles of mutual aid. It's also an extremely stark and sobering comparison to the world at present, and sometimes it's hard to juggle both of those feelings at once. While I was reading a chapter where a teacher explains prisons to children who live in a world where prisons don't exist, a humanitarian aid worker in AZ faced two felony charges for giving water to two people crossing the border. It's a dark time to read utopian fiction, but it's a necessary light.

It's also a jumping …

Review of 'The Dispossessed' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This is the first book I've read by Ursula K. Le Guin. I've meant to pick up some of her stuff for the longest time, but never got around to it. Better late than never. Apparently this book is in the middle of the "Hinish Cycle" so I'll have to go back and read the ones I missed!

Review of 'The Dispossessed' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Ich möchte einfach nur mein Lieblingszitat aus dem Buch posten, über die ersten Tage in einer Beziehung:

"Intimacy after long solitude, the abruptness of joy,
tried both Shevek’s stability and Takver’s. In the first
few decads he had wild swings of elation and anxiety;
she had fits of temper. Both were oversensitive and
inexperienced. The strain did not last, as they became
experts in each other. Their sexual hunger persisted as
passionate delight, their desire for communion was daily
renewed because it was daily fulfilled."

Review of 'The Dispossessed' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

This is one of the great science fiction classics, but I find it too aged for my tastes. The idea of letting two vastly different cultures meet, with at least an attempt at neutral approach to which is better, is a great one. However I find the tempo of the story way too slow, and I found the book lacking suspense.

This is added to by the the structure of intermixed presence and past. Knowing the outcome of dramatic parts of the past storyline removes a lot of potential nerve.

Review of 'The Dispossessed' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

J'avais lu quelque part qu'Ursula K. Le Guin avait démontré que la science-fiction ne pouvait pas seulement s'appuyer sur les sciences dites exactes mais aussi sur les sciences humaines. C'est exactement le cas dans ce superbe roman qui décrit une pseudo-utopie anarchiste où les valeurs de liberté, de collectivité, de partage et de bien commun sont mises en avant. Je parle de pseudo-utopie car comme le sous-titre du roman, An Ambiguous Utopia, l'indique, ce monde idéal ne l'est pas forcément tant que ça, et les excès du modèle prôné par les fondateurs de cette société ont aussi des effets pervers que le roman ne néglige pas.

Ce livre est à la fois un passionnant roman de science-fiction, la description d'une utopie imparfaite et de son exact contraire, et une brillante réflexion sociologique et politique. Tout ce que j'aime dans la science-fiction, tout ce qu'elle doit être à mes yeux.

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Subjects

  • Life on other planets -- Fiction
  • Communal living -- Fiction
  • Physicists -- Fiction
  • Anarchism -- Fiction
  • Utopias -- Fiction

Lists