Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin's many books include the Earthsea series.

From her Q & A with readers at the Guardian in 2004:

Q: One of the most memorable images of the Earthsea books is that of the "wall of stones" and the grey world of the dead beyond. The idea of a shadowy world of despair seems to crop up a lot in SF - in the last century I'm reminded of Philip K Dick's "tomb world", or the grey town in CS Lewis's The Great Divorce, or most recently the world of the dead in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. I guess there are more ancient parallels in the Old Testament references to "Sheol" or the Greek conception of the Fields of Asphodel. Why do you think so many writers have talked about death in these terms and is there a reason why it is such a recurring theme in the Earthsea books?

UKL: The dark, dry, changeless world after death of Earthsea comes (in so far as I am conscious of its sources) from the Greco-Roman idea of Hades' realm, from certain images in Dante, and from one of Rilke's Elegies. A realm of shadow, dust, where nothing changes and "lovers pass each other in silence" - it seems a fairly common way of thinking about what personal existence after death would be, not a specifically modern one? I do hope you noticed that the wall of stones was broken down in the sixth book of Earthsea, and that all that world of dust and silence was...[read on]
A Wizard of Earthsea is one of Lev Grossman's five top fantasy novels.

--Marshal Zeringue