Ursula Le Guin Dies at 88
Ursula K. Le Guin, one of the great writers of the 20th century, passed away Tuesday at her home in Portland, Oregon. She was 88 years old. Although commonly considered a science fiction author, Le Guin was also widely recognized as a literary voice of significant depth and insight. Le Guin's sophisticated inquiries into gender, environmentalism, anarchism, taoism, anthropology, sociology, and psychology often played out against fantastical or futuristic backdrops in her fiction. Among her many books, which achieved both literary respect and commercial success, were The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven, and The Wizard of Earthsea.
Le Guin was born in Berkeley, California, in 1929, the daughter of prominent American anthropologists Alfred and Theodora Kroeber. She graduated from Radcliffe University in 1951, continuing on to earn a Master's degree from Columbia in 1952. While on a Fulbright fellowship to Paris she met and married Charles Le Guin. The two settled in Portland, Oregon, where they raised three children together. She published her first novel Rocannon's World, in 1966. Two years later she published The Wizard of Earthsea, the first in the popular and acclaimed Earthsea series, which launched her career and became a classic of the fantasy genre. Within the next few years, she would publish several books that would also become undisputed classics in the science fiction canon: The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), The Lathe of Heaven (1971), and The Dispossessed (1974).
For collectors of science fiction and fantasy in the 20th century, Le Guin was already a must-have, but as her reputation has continued to grow beyond genre fiction (see, for example, the recent Library of America editions of her work), Le Guin's works properly belong on the shelf of any collector of 20th century literary fiction as well.
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