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Title:The Metaphor of Turning and Returning in The Novels of Ursula K. Le Guin, 1968-1974 (Science Fiction; Oregon)
Author(s):Cogell, Elizabeth Cummins
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, American
Abstract:This study explores the theme of turning and returning which emerges in the six classic science fiction and fantasy novels Ursula K. Le Guin published between 1968 and 1974. In these novels Le Guin depicts turning and returning as the way an individual and a community can complete the knowledge and the fulfillment of the self. She illustrates the theme through the image of the spiral journey, i.e., a going out and a coming back that is not a circular journey because one returns to a different place, a new and complete self. The crucial moment in this spiral journey is the turning point, that place in the journey when one realizes the return is necessary for the completion of the quest.
The first chapter identifies three contexts for Le Guin's theme: Taoism, Carl Jung's work on the process of individuation, and Victor Turner's work on liminality. These are appropriate contexts for the theme because they involve structures of opposition that can lead to harmony. Each of the next three chapters examines one fantasy and one science fiction novel to show Le Guin's development of her central theme.
The second chapter examines A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) and The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) to show that the genres of science fiction and fantasy, in positing a world or worlds beyond earth, provide an opposite, an Other, against which or with which, our knowledge and sense of self can function. Chapter three demonstrates that The Tombs of Atuan (1970) and The Lathe of Heaven (1971) explore the danger of losing one's way in the process of turning and returning. Her protagonists, having lost contact with their psychological, social, and ecological roots, are being used to serve someone else's will to power until that moment when they reject the external power that is alienating them from themselves.
The fourth chapter shows that in The Farthest Shore (1972) and The Dispossessed (1974) Le Guin creates protagonists in a complete psychological, social, and political context. She depicts a series of turning points in each character's life thus giving a full sense of the ongoing spiral movement that typifies for her the development of both the individual and the society. The final novel provides an image in small, a microcosm, of the whole series and of the artistic journey Le Guin made in writing the six novels.
Issue Date:1985
Description:256 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1985.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8511597
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1985

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