Sunday, August 1, 2010

Getting Ready for A Wizard of Earthsea

It's time to start reading A Wizard of Earthsea for our online reading group! Don't forget to post comments & questions either on the blog or on the abc book banter forums.Click here to visit the official website of Ursula K. Le Guin-the site links to articles, biography, bibliography, & includes selected works by Le Guin onsite!

About the author:

Ursula Kroeber was born in 1929 in Berkeley, California, where she grew up. Her parents were the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and the writer Theodora Kroeber, author of Ishi. She went to Radcliffe College and did graduate work at Columbia University. She married Charles A. Le Guin, a historian, in Paris in 1953; they have lived in Portland, Oregon, since 1958, and have three children and four grandchildren.

Ursula K. Le Guin writes both poetry and prose, and in various modes including realistic fiction, science fiction, fantasy, young children's books, books for young adults, screenplays, essays, verbal texts for musicians, and voicetexts. She has published seven books of poetry, twenty-two novels, over a hundred short stories (collected in eleven volumes), four collections of essays, twelve books for children, and four volumes of translation.

Most of Le Guin's major titles have remained continuously in print, some for over forty years. Her best known fantasy works, the six Books of Earthsea, have sold millions of copies in America and England, and have been translated into sixteen languages. Her first major work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness, is considered epoch-making in the field for its radical investigation of gender roles and its moral and literary complexity. Her novels The Dispossessed and Always Coming Home redefine the scope and style of utopian fiction, while the realistic stories of a small Oregon beach town in Searoad show her permanent sympathy with the ordinary griefs of ordinary people. Among her books for children, the Catwings series has become a particular favorite. Her version of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching, a translation she worked on for forty years, has received high praise.

Three of Le Guin's books have been finalists for the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, and among the many honors her writing has received are a National Book Award, five Hugo Awards, five Nebula Awards, SFWA's Grand Master, the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Howard Vursell Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the L.A. Times Robert Kirsch Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Margaret A. Edwards Award, etc.

Le Guin leads an intensely private life, with sporadic forays into political activism and steady participation in the literary community of her city. Having taught writing workshops from Vermont to Australia, she is now retired from teaching. She limits her public appearances mostly to the West Coast.

[abridged from her website]

Some things to think about as you delve into your reading:

Ged grows up in the course of this novel. What are the qualities that mark him as childish in his early youth? What are the qualities that mark him as adult at the end?

What meanings are associated with Ged's Shadow? Why does it flee from him when he begins to pursue it?

Discuss pride. Is it Ged's pride that causes all his problems? Is the shadow a part of Ged's pride? Is pride always a bad thing? Are there times when pride is appropriate?

Discuss names. Names are important to a lot of cultures. Name one culture that treats names in a similar fashion to this novel. Why is it important to Ged that he not reveal his name to anyone?

What are the rules that govern magic in Earthsea? What can magic do and what is impossible using magic?

This novel is similar to traditional fairy tales in which characters succeed by confronting frightening beings, such as "Hansel and Gretel" and "Little Red Riding Hood." What are the similiarites & differences between those fairy tales & this novel?

The Big Read's A Wizard of Earthsea Reader's Guide

No comments: