Dreams Must Explain Themselves by Ursula K Le Guin: revealing insight into literary creativity
Review: Not every piece grabs the attention, but there is more than enough that will
Ursula K Le Guin photographed in 2005 by Dan Tuffs/Getty
Dreams Must Explain Themselves
Ursula K Le Guin
This selection of nonfiction from the celebrated American fantasy and science-fiction writer Ursula K Le Guin tells us a lot about her creative process and how deeply she thought about it. Consider the following: “One of the essential functions of science fiction . . . is . . . question asking: reversals of a habitual way of thinking, metaphors for what our language has no words for as yet, experiments in imagination.” That is typical of the many revealing insights we get into her literary creativity, but we also learn much about other themes of great importance to her, such as feminism (her thoughts on and insights into women writers are particularly striking), dreams and the subconscious, literary criticism (her analysis of fellow writers is superb in places), censorship, anthropology, Native Americans’ rights, care of the environment and social justice. Not every piece is of a similar standard, nor will each one grab your attention, but there is more than enough in this cornucopia that will.