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Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places [Paperback]

Ursula K. Le Guin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Feb 1990
"Insightful, impassioned, sometimes lyrical, often funny . . . a trove of delights .""--Los Angeles Times Book Review." "Eloquent, elegant . . . funny, sharp . . . provocative."-- "Washington Post"
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Paperback: 315 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPerennial; 1st Perennial Library Ed edition (Feb 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060972890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060972899
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 162,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ursula Le Guin has won many awards, including a National Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Newbery Honor and the World Fantasy Award For Life Achievement.

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The menopause is probably the least glamorous topic imaginable; and this is interesting, because it is one of the very few topics to which cling some shreds and remnants of taboo. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By bernie TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
It is like one long interview with Ursula. And give us the fee that we know her and her body (of work) better.

I especially like her talk about working on the "Lath of Heaven" movie. Read and find out what she thinks.

The book covers 10 years of interviews, essays, papers, speeches, and related information. It is sort of like the little extras and the voice-overs that you get at the end of DVD's now days. However there are no pictures.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great collection, useful for students of SF 13 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book presents a body of one woman's opinions. This might not sound like much but, given that these are Ursula Le Guin's opinions, it is well worth reading. She writes entertainingly and even though she wants to make you think it does not hurt one bit. Given the dearth of decent criticism of Science Fiction available at student level prices this is an excellent introduction to the genre for them. It is probably the first time most of them will have discovered serious thought behind SF. She also addresses other issues, often concerning her own experiences and the problems of being a woman writer, which would make this a useful text for anyone interested in gender studies. To sum up, buy it; it is very good; you will read these essays more than once, guaranteed.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Le Guin's Non-Fiction Pieces: A Mental Biography 16 April 2002
By "botatoe" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I had never read a word of Ursula K. Le Guin until I recently picked up "Dancing at the Edge of the World," a chronologically arranged collection of essays, talks and book reviews written by Le Guin during the period 1976 through 1988. It is a collection that is intended, in the author's words, "[to] provide a sort of mental biography, a record of responses to ethical and political climates, of the transforming effect of certain literary ideas, and of the changes of a mind."
Each of the essays listed in the table of contents is denoted with a glyph that categorizes the essay as dealing with feminism, social responsibility, literature, or travel. This categorization gives the reader a good idea of the range of the collection and of Le Guin's interests, which extend far beyond the science fiction genre for which she is most well known.
The quality of the essays is uneven. Some of the travel pieces are soporific ("Places Names," "Along the Platte" and "Over the Hills and a Great Way Off"), although they might be more interesting to readers who have been to the places Le Guin describes. Other pieces seem to suffer from the loss caused by transforming what were originally spoken presentations into writing. The feminist writings in some cases are the victim of changing times. What is useful, however, even in these weaker pieces, are Le Guin's introductions, which provide a useful contextual background that helps the reader understand the import of the essay.
While some of the essays are unremarkable, there also are several exceptional writings that are worth the price of admission. I refer, in particular, to the 1988 essay, "The Fisherman's Daughter," which provides a provocative and interesting discussion of women and writing, a text that follows in the line from Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" through Tillie Olsen's "Silences," drawing heavily on both authors for another view of this much discussed literary/feminist theme. I also refer to the essays from 1986, a very good year for Le Guin insofar as the six essays included here from that year all provide interesting and worthwhile glimpses at why her writing is so well regarded. In particular, I enjoyed "Bryn Mawr Commencement Address" and "Text, Silence, Performance," two essays that illuminate the ways in which spoken and written language, and the privileging of certain communicative forms over others, affects the world.
Despite the shortcomings of some of its essays, "Dancing at the Edge of the World" provides a fascinating picture of Le Guin's worldview, successfully painting the "mental biography" of one of America's more interesting and accomplished writers during one decade of her life.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Container as the First Human Invention 17 May 2011
By Vesna from how-to-cook-with-vesna .com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Around pp. 165-167, in the essay "The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction," LeGuin discusses the possibility that the first human invention was not the weapon, but the container -- the sling, the sack, the bag, the carrier. (I remembered it as "the vessel," but that term doesn't appear in the book.) What good is generating a lot of stuff to eat if you don't have any way to get it back to camp? She argues the point persuasively and passionately.

I read this book in 1991 or 1992, nearly 20 years ago. I've not seen the idea anywhere else (although she cites an anthropologist writing in 1975) but it has shaped my perception since. Not to diminish the rest of the book, but this single idea in this one essay is, I believe, worth getting the whole book for.
4.0 out of 5 stars Ursula K. Le Guin non-fiction collection - recommended 12 Mar 2014
By Paul Brooks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dancing at the End of the World - Ursula K. Le Guin [2014-03-10 513]

"Dancing at the End of the World" (1989) is a collection of essays, talks, reviews and some travel notes by the highly esteemed author Ursula K. Le Guin. For many years I have greatly admired her novels particularly "The Lathe of Heaven". I am cautiously optimistic that by reading non-fiction books by authors I hold in high esteem I may become more nuanced in my appreciation of their fiction.

I sought out this book because I had reviewed the table of contents on the ISFDB (Internet Science Fiction Data Base) and I greatly desired to read a couple of items - a book review of a C.S. Lewis collection and an essay titled "Where Do you Get Your Ideas From". Both readings were informative but the essay was of particularly interest. To summarize ideas flow up from the subconscious and are an amalgamation of life experiences.

I surveyed the book from cover to cover sampling a page or two from each entry. To be honest, with one exception, and the two pieces noted I passed on the other writings. The unexpected gem of this book for this reader was a diary like essay about Ms. LeGuin's experiences during filming of her novel "The Lathe of Heaven" - note the 1980 version! Very interesting and informative indeed to this reader since I was not previously aware it had be make into a movie and as it turns out twice - but that's another story altogether.
6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Le Guin's Non-Fiction Pieces: A Mental Biography 4 Jan 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I had never read a word of Ursula K. Le Guin until I recently picked up "Dancing at the Edge of the World," a chronologically arranged collection of essays, talks and book reviews written by Le Guin during the period 1976 through 1988. It is a collection that is intended, in the author's words, "[to] provide a sort of mental biography, a record of responses to ethical and political climates, of the transforming effect of certain literary ideas, and of the changes of a mind."
Each of the essays listed in the table of contents is denoted with a glyph that categorizes the essay as dealing with feminism, social responsibility, literature, or travel. This categorization gives the reader a good idea of the range of the collection and of Le Guin's interests, which extend far beyond the science fiction genre for which she is most well known.
The quality of the essays is uneven. Some of the travel pieces are soporific ("Places Names," "Along the Platte" and "Over the Hills and a Great Way Off"), although they might be more interesting to readers who have been to the places Le Guin describes. Other pieces seem to suffer from the loss caused by transforming what were originally spoken presentations into writing. The feminist writings in some cases are the victim of changing times. What is useful, however, even in these weaker pieces, are Le Guin's introductions, which provide a useful contextual background that helps the reader understand the import of the essay.
While some of the essays are unremarkable, there also are several exceptional writings that are worth the price of admission. I refer, in particular, to the 1988 essay, "The Fisherman's Daughter," which provides a provocative and interesting discussion of women and writing, a text that follows in the line from Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" through Tillie Olsen's "Silences," drawing heavily on both authors for another view of this much discussed literary/feminist theme. I also refer to the essays from 1986, a very good year for Le Guin insofar as the six essays included here from that year all provide interesting and worthwhile glimpses at why her writing is so well regarded. In particular, I enjoyed "Bryn Mawr Commencement Address" and "Text, Silence, Performance," two essays that illuminate the ways in which spoken and written language, and the privileging of certain communicative forms over others, affects the world.
Despite the shortcomings of some of its essays, "Dancing at the Edge of the World" provides a fascinating picture of Le Guin's worldview, successfully painting the "mental biography" of one of America's more interesting and accomplished writers during one decade of her life.
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