Stories from the Western Shore


In just a few years, Ursula K LeGuin has created yet another world for us, with the (so far) trilogy Gifts (2004), Voices (2006), and Powers (2007). I am still eager to hear more from the previous worlds, yet I am happy to stay for a while on the Western Shore. Not that it is a particularly happy place, being ruled with cruelty and warfare for most of the time, but there is much to learn from the poor and struggling people in cities and uplands.

Many motifs are recurring from earlier works, for example the political parables, which in The word for world is forest (1976) was inspired by Vietnam, and now in Voices most likely by Iraq and Afghanistan – maybe even Tibet, and why not of America, where the native peoples were persecuted and sometimes exterminated. In this context it is interesting to note that Ursulas parents were strongly connected with Ishi, the last Yahi indian, and although he died several years before she was born, the stories about him must have had a great importance for her.

Also the hidden forces underground in the latter book remind the reader of those from the Earthsea cycle. A theme which she has developed strongly in the latest three book, but already in The telling (2000), is the importance for humanity (in a wide sense) of books and the written word. The love of literature, and the fight for it, has rarely been so movingly described as in these books, about works such as Caspro’s Cosmologies, for example (unfortunately unknown in the present world). This is actually what connects the three books most, other than a few persons and the fact that they occur in roughly the same geographic area. However they all three also deal with growing up and taking responsibility for ones life, and for those of others. This is part of why they are such a rewarding reading.



Filed under Literature, Ursula LeGuin

4 responses to “Stories from the Western Shore

  1. mysteryshrink

    I’ll be checking back for your word on these films. I’m a psychologist just starting a blog on what we can learn about people and relationships through the movies.

    Clearly there’s a whole world of movies I don’t know about.

  2. Good luck with your project!
    Now these aren’t films yet – but the Earthsea cycle is said to be, soon!

  3. If only more people understood the connection between Ishi and Earthsea.

    The adaptations of her work have been woefully lacking.

    Why is the anthropological and indigenous element so hard to get?

    Anyway, thanks for your contribution to enlightening the masses.

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