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If Ursula Le Guin were to write The Left Hand of Darkness today,

(8 Posts)
HappySecret Sun 12-Nov-17 08:02:39

Would it be different?

ArcheryAnnie Mon 13-Nov-17 12:58:46

Well, yes, because she's writing now, and not then, and she's changed and developed too - just look at the difference between that and The Birthday Of the World. Or how her Earthsea books developed as she got older.

But what would deff change is the army of people either claiming it for trans activism, or slating her for writing transness "wrong", or for sorrowfully finding it "problematic" in various ways. Despite it not being about trans people at all.

It's one of my favourite books of all time, has been ever since I was a teenager. The very idea that you could be treated as a person first, and not shoved into a box because of your biological sex was very heaven.

RidiculousDiversion Mon 13-Nov-17 13:12:48

Ooh, you've just prompted me to re-read it. I've always loved how she thinks - the one about anarchy is really interesting too. I do wonder whether The Left Hand of Darkness would find a publisher today.

HappySecret Mon 13-Nov-17 15:46:07

TBH I haven't read any of her more recent work. I was indulging myself in a re-read of my favourites, nd thinking how astounding and groundbreaking LHoD must have been in its time.

HappySecret Mon 13-Nov-17 15:53:04

Oh yes, I love Thr Dispossessed. The bit where Shevet beats up Shevek, and Shevek does nothing about it because Shevet had offered what he had chosen to offer (ie violence) and Shevek had had the choice whether or not to accept it. That has helped me so much in dealing with negativity from other people.

Sentimentallentil Mon 13-Nov-17 20:00:50

I read left hand if darkness for the first time a couple of months ago and I found it strange that in the book no gender defaulted to a male he. For me the femaleness of the character was lost and it kind of just read like a feminine bloke.

I know that she has addressed that and said that if she was wouldn’t have necessarily used the pronoun he if she had written it later on.

IamalsoSpartacus Mon 13-Nov-17 20:31:55

Do try and find "Left Hand of Darkness Redux" where she revisits the book and addresses this question. I have it in a collection of essays, I haven't seen it online. The essays are amazing, she writes about her abortion at college at a time when it was still illegal in the USA. Supportive and rich parents...

HappySecret Tue 14-Nov-17 07:40:33

I must try to find that!

I agree about the gender default pronoun. I thought (a) that at the time she was writing, 'he' was the default for non-gendered pronouns (as I remember being taught in the 70s), and (b) that Ai's cultural bias unconsciously equated power with masculinity, hence his constant confusion. He never struck me as the politically and socially subtle person needed for the role.

In The Dispossessed she uses personal and possessive pronouns far too often IMO. Is it an inaccuracy in her writing, or is she making the point that certain things are so ingrained in our cultures (binary sexuality, possessiveness) that we literally cannot think outside them?

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