Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

It was a delight to reread Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness for my reading group. There was a lot that I didn’t remember, and some of her characterizations now strike me as very dated. But that doesn’t negate the good story-telling and provocative social and psychological ideas.

The social/sexual amgibuities are still high among the things that move me in the book. For me, this is very much a love story. As I finished it (crying), I recognized the same feeling from previous reads: that something that I can’t put my finger on resonates at a very deep level for me, specifically as a gay man. Perhaps it has to do with the characters connecting through their differences rather than their similarities (although that moment in the book is presented in a somewhat male/female dichotomy–you need to read it to see the ambiguities and richness in the situation).

At any rate, it continues to rank high among books I recommend to others.

2 Replies to “Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin”

  1. I deeply admire LeGuin and everything that she writes. LHOD _is_ a little dated in some respects, but the care and attention that she takes with everything she does in the novel is wonderful, and it remains one of my favorite books.

    That’s really the thing that’s so great about her — LeGuin cares deeply about her readers, and I get the sense that she is meticulous about her choices and her words as she writes. Every detail is intentional, nothing overlooked.

    I was disappointed to see how badly the TV treatment of the Earthsea books was brought off. I was a little outraged as I was sitting through the first hour or so of it (I eventually had to turn it off after much cursing and funny looks from my husband). LeGuin has a lot to say about the process, and the dreckish result, on her Web Site at http://www.ursulakleguin.com/Index-EarthseaMiniseries.html.

  2. Oh, yes — I love LHOD. It was hugely formative for me when I first read it, in college, and was beginning to consider the fluidity of gender and sexuality anyway...

    I haven’t read it in years, though. Maybe it’s time for a reread.

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