The Wisdom of Ursula Le Guin


Ursula K. Le Guin, born in 1929, published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation. She received the Hugo and Nebula Awards, National Book Award, and many others. From the treatment of gender (The Left Hand of Darkness, The Matter of Seggri), to political systems (The Telling, The Dispossessed) and ‘otherness’, her imagined societies, drawing on her knowledge of anthropology gained from growing up with her father, the famous anthropologist, Alfred Krober, she used science fiction and fantasy to highlight a range of themes and ideas. This wide range led to some fascinating insights, as seen in this selection of quotes:

'While we read a novel, we are insane—bonkers. We believe in the existence of people who aren't there, we hear their voices... Sanity returns (in most cases) when the book is closed.'

'Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.'

'Belief is the wound that knowledge heals.’

'The creative adult is the child who has survived.'

'The law of evolution is that the strongest survives!' 'Yes, and the strongest, in the existence of any social species, are those who are most social. In human terms, most ethical...There is no strength to be gained from hurting one another. Only weakness.'

'People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.'

'It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.'

'I do not care what comes after; I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning.'

'We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel... is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.'

'As you read a book word by word and page by page, you participate in its creation, just as a cellist playing a Bach suite participates, note by note, in the creation, the coming-to-be, the existence, of the music. And, as you read and re-read, the book of course participates in the creation of you, your thoughts and feelings, the size and temper of your soul.'

'We're each of us alone, to be sure. What can you do but hold your hand out in the dark?'

'Children know perfectly well that unicorns aren’t real, b