The dispossessed

an ambiguous Utopia

No cover

The dispossessed (1996, Voyager)

319 pages

English language

Published Jan. 6, 1996 by Voyager.

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5 stars (10 reviews)

E-book extra: In-depth study guide.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.

35 editions

One of the books I want to keep returning to

5 stars

I first read this book 20 years ago in a German translation and liked it a lot, but I didn't get a lot of it. Now, reading the English original and having had more of a political education, at first I was: "Is this book as good as I remember it?", but then, I enjoyed it even more.

I love that it's not an unbroken utopia and the ending leaves some things open. I also liked how it shows how power-laden relationships and positions can inadvertently creep back into a society that's not supposed to have them.

the ambiguous utopia

5 stars

I read The Dispossessed when I was way too young to "get it" and I honestly remembered very little except for the scene at the beginning where Shevek lands on Urras and the guard getting hit in the head and killed by a rock. I'm glad I decided to pick it up this time around - at the end of last week, students were asking me about some positive/utopian sci-fi that wasn't all about battles and/or white dudes, and this one immediately came to mind.

I've been thinking about the relationship of individual to larger collective/org and how that relates to work for a while as I've been trying to navigate some personnel matters that come down to trying to get staff to stop thinking about their individual fulfillment/sense of purpose and start thinking about the collective fulfillment/purpose of the library+college. MPOW is also going through an organizational restructuring right …

Review of 'The Dispossessed' on 'LibraryThing'

5 stars

A lovely exploration of a utopia that Le Guin managed to make seem both appealing and plausible without shrinking from the sacrifices that it entailed.

At times the weird temporal structure of the book confused me, though it does make sense given the principal character's work. And there are moments when the utopians' political talk starts to feel like author lecturing reader - though really only moments, this isn't one of those books that bludgeons you with its rhetoric. It is one of those that I've spent as long thinking about after finishing as I had spent reading it, because there's more substance and subtletly to its politics and sociological observation than you might expect after I've thrown the "utopia" label at it.

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