Sunday, 6 November 2011

A book of wisdom: The Dispossessed...

Some books are beautiful.

Some novels are exciting, and thrilling, and full of adventure.

Some stories are full of the wisdom of their authors.

Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed is so beautiful it brings tears to the eyes—you don't read it, it sings to you; it is so full of adventure and excitement that you run alongside the characters, feel their pain and their joy and their desperation and their hope; it is so full of the writer's wisdom that three times during the reading of it I had to dig out a pencil and scrawl a copy of a particularly amazing passage on the scrap of paper I was using as a bookmark.

From page 113  (Panther 1975 edition):
He tried to read an elementary economics text; it bored him past endurance, it was like listening to somebody interminably recounting a long and stupid dream. He could not force himself to understand how banks functioned and so forth, because all the operations of capitalism were as meaningless to him as the rites of a primitive religion, as barbaric, as elaborate, and as unnecessary. In a human sacrifice to deity there might be at least a mistaken and terrible beauty; in the rites of the moneychangers, where greed, laziness, and envy were assumed to move all men's acts, even the terrible became banal.
From page 158:
There are souls ... whose umbilicus has never been cut. They never got weaned from the universe. They do not understand death as an enemy; they look forward to rotting and turning into humus.
From page 205:
An Odonian undertook monogamy just as he might undertake a joint enterprise in production, a ballet or  soap-works. Partnership was a voluntarily constituted federation like any other. So long as it worked, it worked, and if it didn't work it stopped being. It was not an institution but a function. It had no sanction but that of private conscience. [...] Though it might seem that [the] insistence on freedom to change would invalidate the idea of a promise or a vow, in fact the freedom made the promise meaningful.