The Word For World Is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin


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 When the inhabitants of a peaceful world are conquered by the bloodthirsty yumens, their existence is irrevocably altered. Forced into servitude, the Athsheans find themselves at the mercy of their brutal masters. Desperation causes the Athsheans, led by Selver, to retaliate against their captors, abandoning their strictures against violence. But in defending their lives, they have endangered the very foundations of their society. For every blow against the invaders is a blow to the humanity of the Athsheans. And once the killing starts, there is no turning back.

Written in the glare of the United States’ war on Indochina, and first published as a separate book in that war’s dire aftermath, The Word for World is Forest is a reflection on invasion, exploitation and oppression, and on the necessity and cost of resistance. Though short, the novel is far from slight. It brings into sharp focus several of its author’s enduring concerns, and draws on the same intellectual resources that illuminate her wider work: notably anthropology, anarchism, feminism and Taoism. Characteristically of all Le Guin’s writing, it embodies the stubborn virtue of seeing with both eyes, in depth and in colour, without looking away from or ignoring uncomfortable truths.


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