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The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction [Hardcover]

Ursula K. Le Guin
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st U.S. Ed edition (May 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060168358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060168353
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,351,285 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.

Product Description


Essays explore the various issues, concepts, challenges, and paradoxes that confront the science fiction writer.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shadow Boxing in the Twilight 27 Nov 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It warms my cockles to see this book turn up with such a beautiful cover. My own copy came out in the Women's Press (London) in the 1980s and they couldn't afford such a lush design. As for the content, I found it really fascinating. When I first came across the book I had no idea someone had written such an in-depth guide to fantasy. I think the whole book has a Jungian aura as it traces the origins of modern fantasy back its roots in raw fairy tale lore, and from there its a small enough step into the universal unconscious. My favourite chapter is a large essay dedicated to the subject of the shadow in all its guises. Lovers of fantasy who want to explore the subject in more depth will I think enjoy this book very much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom for every writer 23 Feb 2010
Writing is an art rather than a science, though sometimes books about writing make us forget this. Ursula LeGuin always reawakens my sense of wonder in the processes and activities of the imagination. She doesn't let us forget that we're dealing with something mysterious and powerful. She's also a master of style and it's a pleasure just to listen to the way she expresses herself. I go back to this and her other writings about fiction often for inspiration, even though I'm not currently working in the same genre that she is. False Colors: An M/M Romance
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will entertain - and make you think 21 May 2000
By Sarah E. Morin - Published on Amazon.com
I'll level with you - I actually prefer what LeGuin has to say ABOUT sci-fi and fantasy over her actual books - and there's several of her books I really enjoyed. Any serious reader or writer of these genres should read this collection of her essays. Not only will you find specific notes on her books, but precepts that form the very fabric of what we call sci-fi and fantasy today. LeGuin broke the barrier in several ways - this book will demonstrate how. I especially enjoyed "Why are Americans Afraid of Dragons?" The chapter on Mrs. Brown is highly valuable to consider when studying or writing character. Can you remember the names of the main characters a month after you finish a book? - A year? - Ten years? LeGuin tries to answer what makes character memorable - the reasons may perhaps surprise you. And fans of Tolkien will enjoy LeGuin's insight on the character of Frodo. LeGuin is intelligent but casual, often hilarious and always thought-provoking. An excellent collection.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best comments on fantasy since Tolkien's 9 Aug 2000
By Pauline J. Alama - Published on Amazon.com
Ursula Leguin's The Language of the Night is a must-read for anyone interested in writing fantasy. Her insights in "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" on the importance of style in bringing a fantasy world to life provide a rare and perceptive analysis of what makes Tolkien and other greats stand out above the latest have-sword-will-travel.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all sci-fi fans 9 May 2000
By gcameron - Published on Amazon.com
I was unaware this book was out of print. A new, revised edition was released in 1989, which included extensive footnotes by Le Guin, including an interesting redux of her essay, "Is Gender Necessary?" regarding the feminist content of her most famous novel, "The Left Hand of Darkness."
In whatever version, "The Language of the Night" is, quite simply, essential reading for any devotee of science fiction and fantasy literature. Among the standout pieces are "The Child and the Shadow" and "Myth and Archetype in Science Fiction," both of which use Jungian psychological ideas to get at the root of fantasy's imaginative power. Also compelling are "Science Fiction and Mrs. Brown," in which (by way of Virginia Woolf's essay "Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown") Le Guin examines whether science fiction literature can really do justice to human character, and the hilarious "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie," a delightful critique of tone-deaf fantasy authors.
All in all, an excellent read.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not what I expected 28 July 2002
By Coray - Published on Amazon.com
I've read about five books by Ursula K. Le Guin, and thought they were outstanding. Although perhaps not the most exciting books I've ever read, they were still . . . encaptivating. Anyway, I got this book expecting it to be essays by Le Guin on the methods, styles, and quirks of writing fantasy (and Sci Fi.) That's not what it is. This book is a collection of speeches made by Le Guin to Sci Fi conventions and other similar groups. Although a great book to explore the many literary ramifications of the "fantastic" fiction groups, this isn't a book for the aspiring writer, it's for the dedicated reader. So if you fall into that category, I recommend it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It led me to graduate school... 16 May 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
There's some substantial literary criticism here, and some scathing social commentary. I've taught the essay "Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons" to undergraduates, and been surprised by its relevance and power, even after twenty years.
And amid the critical prose there are single gems of life-changing, poignant brilliance.
Worth searching out and seeking for.
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