The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, 2/5
Le Guin’s exploration of that inherently contradictory concept, an anarchist society, felt pointless and unbelievable, probably because anarchy itself (even the idealized, fictional version portrayed in this book) seems ridiculously illogical, unrealistic and childish, as I understand it. Is the government oppressive? Get rid of all forms of authority! Do the rich exploit the poor? Get rid of all possessions! Is anarchy failing? Apply more anarchy!
My main problem is not necessarily with Le Guin’s portrayal of anarchy in the book (though I did find that pretty implausible) but that when it inevitably starts to unravel, she falls back on more anarchy as the answer. It’s as if rebellion was a cause itself, not something to be employed in the service of a cause. Her attempts to extract some sort of deep philosophical meaning from the simple fact that a society of rebels will inevitably become a regime to be rebelled against itself did not resonate with me at all.
Another reason I didn’t enjoy reading this book is that I dislike feeling preached-at and reading fiction that contains fake science and sexual themes, all of which are prominent features of The Dispossessed and annoyed me enough to ruin any chance of achieving suspension of disbelief.
[Why I read it: Jan from choir recommended Le Guin to me a couple years ago and my friend Sarah mentioned on Facebook that she’s a huge fan.]
Excellent, thoughtful review but it is unclear how you came to give it a 2. 2 for the fact that other people seem to like it?
I save my 1/5 ratings for “why the crap was this piece of crap even written?” books. In contrast, this one obviously took skill, care and creativity to write. Though I didn’t enjoy it or find it at all convincing, at least it was thought-provoking.