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Dazed and Mystified - Peter Hentges

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April 6th, 2008

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01:23 am - Dazed and Mystified
I have just completed reading Ursula K. Le Guin's latest novel, Lavinia. It is a work of great depth and I shall enjoy re-reading it as I expect to get more out of it when I do so. I also should re-read the Aeneid, as it is from a minor character in that epic that this novel gets its main character.

The thing that struck me most squarely about this novel is that it is the first time I can recall reading a novel with a self-aware character. The titular character realizes she is a character in a story. She ponders within the pages of this novel if she would exist at all if the poet had not spoken her name. She has immortality because the poet did not, as he did with so many others in his epic, speak of her death.

In addition, Le Guin fills her story with such earthy, simple detail that you find yourself living in the story with Lavinia. Expecting that she might, as a gracious hostess, bring you some honeyed milk and figs while you recline and read her story. I am in awe of Le Guin's power as an author and, particularly, that she has accomplished its expression in a book of 288 pages (vs. the 704 of Amazon's top-selling fantasy novel [as listed at the time of this writing] or even the 430-odd that seems more common). It is a privilege to read an author at what appears to be the height of her prowess.

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Date:April 6th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
I agree (having read all three) but there is something ... more about this latest novel. I probably won't pin it down until I've re-read it but I feel this is a greater book in some way and a great novel in its own right.
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Date:April 6th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
Is Lavinia part of the Annals of the Western Sea?
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Date:April 7th, 2008 03:34 am (UTC)
No, it's a stand-alone novel set in pre-Roman Italy. You could read it without reading the Annals.

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