R.I.P. writer and visionary Ursula K. Le Guin: “We read books to find out who we are.”

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“There is no safety, and there is no end.”

Tonight is the Another Look event on Mary Shelley’s FrankensteinWe’ve written about it here and here. It is also a day the literary world is mourning: Ursula K. Le Guin died on Monday night at her Portland, Oregon, home. She was 88. We recently wrote a post about her, “Ursula K. Le Guin Going Strong at 88: “I’m Not a Curmudgeon, I’m Just a Scientist’s Daughter,” here.)

Said the New York Times: “Ms. Le Guin embraced the standard themes of her chosen genres: sorcery and dragons, spaceships and planetary conflict. But even when her protagonists are male, they avoid the macho posturing of so many science fiction and fantasy heroes. The conflicts they face are typically rooted in a clash of cultures and resolved more by conciliation and self-sacrifice than by swordplay or space battles.” The obituary is here.

But there’s another reason to connect tonight’s celebration and the passing of one of the world’s great writers, as Clay Bullwinkle wrote us today: “Because she was like Mary Shelley,  a science fiction writer who covered important issues for individuals and mankind.” And also because was a local girl, raised by two professors (anthropologists, both) in Berkeley.

I will celebrate her for a reason of my own. She offers another reason to (as Werner Herzog said, “Read, read, read, read, read, read, read.” It’s here: “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.”

She told The Guardian in an interview in 2005. “If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there’s no way you can act morally or responsibly.”

But perhaps the most interesting online tribute to her is over at the blog, Better Living Through Beowulfblog, which cites the words from her one books about death, including this one: “There is no safety, and there is no end. The word must be heard in silence; there must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss.”

Read it here.


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