The Dispossessed

Ursula K. Le Guin
The Dispossessed Cover

The Dispossessed


Anarres is a planet of anarchy, which I generally associate with chaos and violence, but Le Guin is utilizing the term in a purely socio-political context. The people are largely communal and work together for survival on a bleak world. Anarres is the sister planet of Urras within a binary system, and the colonizers of Anarres came from that planet seeking out a new way of life approximately 170 years ago.

Shevek is a brilliant physicist who has developed a unifying theory of time and space which can revolutionize the way mankind can communicate and travel through the stars, but his planet of Odonians (Odo being the founder of the anarchist movement) have no use for it. Shevek therefore seeks out the "propertarians" of Anarres. But once he finds out that they just want to exploit his knowledge for selfish and potentially evil purposes, he is left in a bind of both morality and personal danger.

The concept of anarchy as a legitimate way of humans' ability to live (at least through several generations) is something I consider somewhat dubious, but this does not take away my enjoyment of the novel or my growth as a reader for having spent my time on it.

This is a feat of outstanding literature that goes beyond the genre. Worthy of all the awards, accolades, and respect just as much today as ever.