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Le Guin review

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  • David S. Bratman
    A reader on the Le Guin list posted this link: http://www.spectator.co.uk/bookreview.php3?table=old§ion=current&issue=2 002-10-19&id=1215 It s by Philip
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 10, 2002
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      A reader on the Le Guin list posted this link:

      http://www.spectator.co.uk/bookreview.php3?table=old§ion=current&issue=2
      002-10-19&id=1215

      It's by Philip Hensher, nominally a review of the two new Earthsea books,
      but more about more general topics: Earthsea, Le Guin, fantasy. Highlights:

      "In his excellent book about Tolkien, Tom Shippey makes the general claim
      that the most important fiction written in English since the war falls into
      the bookshop category of �fantasy�. It�s a daring thing to say, but one
      worth taking seriously. Perhaps, 100 years from now, the great novels of
      our generation won�t be what we assume they are. ... When we stop being
      patronising about postwar fantasy, I�m convinced that, along with the best
      of Ballard, Titus Groan and The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor
      Hoffmann, Ursula Le Guin will be at the front of any literary person�s
      consciousness."

      "In a very brief span, her chaste, dry prose has implied a world of high
      technology and mediaeval taboos. You feel, as with Tolkien or the Invisible
      Cities of Calvino, that the author knows a great deal more about her world
      than she has chosen to tell us."

      "The world of wizards and fantastical beings like dragons has been much
      imitated since A Wizard of Earthsea, in which Ged goes to the school for
      wizards on the island of Roke. These books are far more satisfying and far
      more serious in intent because Le Guin knows the limits and rules of her
      world, and they seem to bear some kind of relationship to the world we
      actually live in. The duel between prentice wizards in A Wizard of Earthsea
      is in deadly earnest, because it breaks a cardinal rule, and the boys don�t
      anticipate the horrific consequences of their feud; the one in the first of
      the Harry Potter books is trivial, because it has no kind of imagined
      philosophy underlying it, and just breaks an arbitrary and unexplained
      school rule."

      - David Bratman
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