Tehanu (French Edition)

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And that's all. That's all there is. Who knows where a woman begins and ends? Listen mistress, I have roots, I have roots deeper than this island.


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Deeper than the sea, older than the raising of the lands. I go back into the dark I go back into the dark! Before the moon I am, what a woman is, a woman of power, a woman's power, deeper than the roots of trees, deeper than the roots of islands, older than the Making, older than the moon. Who dares ask questions of the dark?

Who'll ask the dark its name? It can be tempting to subscribe to this view sometimes - that women are essentially divine, mystical, pure and powerful in a way that men are not. Tenar, however, and Le Guin, do not seem to be convinced by this idea. Tenar mildly responds that the horrors of her childhood were perpetrated entirely by women, complicating Moss's celebration of pure, mystical female power.

What is clear, however, is that while gender may have started out as a social construct, it has come to be an extremely real thing to the people who live within its rules, power dynamics and expectations on a daily basis. The impact of gender expectations is conveyed most clearly through Ged's story- the "unmanning" that he experiences in Tehanu through the loss of his magic. When Ged loses his magic - his masculine-coded power-he experiences an agonizing identity crisis.

His shame puzzles Tenar: "But even so she did not feel she understood his shame, his agony of humiliation. Perhaps only a man could feel so. A woman got used to shame. For a significant portion of the book, Ged essentially sees himself as nothing without his magic, and as a result is completely cowed, self-absorbed and emotionally stunted, unwilling to care about anything but nursing his wounds and stewing over his downfall: "Ged—the one who might really have helped—Ged ran away. Ran off like a whipped dog, and never sent sign or word to her, never gave a thought to her or Therru, but only to his own precious shame.

That was his child, his nurseling. That was all he cared about. He had never cared or thought about her, only about power—her power, his power, how he could use it, how he could make more power of it.

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Putting the broken Ring together, making the Rune, putting a king on the throne. And when his power was gone, still it was all he could think about: that it was gone, lost, leaving him only himself, his shame, his emptiness. Even a courageous, heroic, truly good man like Ged has built his entire identity upon having more power than other people, and when that is no longer the case he reverts back to being a terrified, emotionally-repressed teenager again.

The rest of the wizards in the book are presented in much the same light- emotionally repressed, terrified of losing their power, and arrogant.

It is only when Ged's worst fears do in fact come true that he is able to actually begin to live in a genuine way and forge a healthy identity for himself as a real man as opposed to a man whose entire sense of himself is constructed on notions of empty power. As Le Guin puts it in the afterward: "In Tehanu he can become, finally, fully a man. He is no longer the servant of his power. Again we come back to the notion of empty power- if your power is built on others' fear and leads to your own constant fear of weakness, what is it truly worth? And with that in mind, what are the other ways that we might be able to define power in a healthier and more grounded way?

His eyes and Tenar's met. If it weren't all these arrangements - one above the other - kings and masters and mages and owners - It all seems so unnecessary. Real power, real freedom, would lie in trust, not force. We must find a way to transcend what is unmendable and unendurable in our current construction of power dynamics, and the quiet revolution of Tehanu offers just one promising alternative. About the Author Ursula Le Guin lived from to She was born in Berkelely, California, and after a master's degree in French, abandoned her doctoral work to begin a writing career in the s.

Her first published book was Rocannon's World in , but critical acclaim became hers with The Wizard of Earthsea in She was the first woman to win a Nebula Award for Best Novel, and over the course of her career she was awarded with numerous Hugos, Nebulas and Locus Awards, as well as being appointed the second female Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Her works often featured explorations of cultural anthropology, feminism, alternative distributions of power and Taoism.

She is also notable for her early and continued exploration of non-heterosexual sexuality and non-white worlds.

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Apr 17, Barbara rated it did not like it Shelves: sf. I must have been about 10 when I read the original Earthsea trilogy for the first time and was just blown away by it. I loved it and have re-read it many times since. I daydreamed about going to Roke and proving to all those narrow-minded wizards that a woman could be as good at magic as a man. I even tried to make my own model of the tombs of Atuan. I was thrilled when Le Guin decided to write another story in that world - until I read it.

I was deeply disappointed by this heavy-handed update i I must have been about 10 when I read the original Earthsea trilogy for the first time and was just blown away by it. I was deeply disappointed by this heavy-handed update in the series. I'm also capable of understanding that an author can craft a world and put words in mouths of characters without necessarily approving of it all. Perhaps my biggest objection is the violence she had to do to the characters of Tenar and Ged to fit into her brave new world. Le Guin is a talented writer.

She could have made her point without being anywhere near this clumsy. I remember getting into a discussion about this book when it first came out, back in the dim, dark ages of Usenet. One of the posters said there are actually two Ursula Le Guins.

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Good Ursula is a gifted storyteller who writes beautifully crafted and thought provoking novels. Bad Ursula never lets the story get in the way of The Message. Tehanu was written by Bad Ursula. There is so much hard-earned, plainspoken, painful, loving wisdom in this book. It feels like she absorbed everything that she had created in the first three Earthsea books, written decades earlier, and found a way to filter them through her own accumulated life experiences and ideas, and poured everything that she was into this new tale.

It feels profoundly personal to her in a way that is just magical and utterly moving. This book never really feels like book 4 in the Earthsea Cycle to me. The first hundred pages or so did not feel needed.


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The darkness, sexuality, and gender role issues in this book, though valid on their own merits, felt really out of place to me in this fantasy world. It would be like if Wicked were the fourth sequel in the Oz series. The political and social agendas do not jive with the previous books.

My other gripe is that this book would have been infinitely more entertaining if it had be This book never really feels like book 4 in the Earthsea Cycle to me. My other gripe is that this book would have been infinitely more entertaining if it had been written from Tehanu's perspective. The other three books are written in this way, from Ged to Tenar to the young prince. The logical, pattern-driven expectation is that Tehanu should be next in a line of perspectives.

Getting to know the classic characters and seeing the stressful situations through her eyes would have been so much better. Instead we get Tenar again.

The magician

She is old and bitter at the world. One, Le Guin spills the beans early on with the folktale of the fisher woman and Tehanu's continued interest in said dragon people. Two, imagine how much more entertaining and unique it would have been to get inside the mind of this new creature for more than just the last eight pages of the book. What is her opinion on Ged, the broken hero of the series? What does she think of Tenar, the former priestess of darkness, as a foster mother?

One of Kurt Vonnegut's rules on writing is not to leave the reader in the dark, but to tell your audience as much as you can as fast as you can. I can see the merit of that rule clearly through the follies of this novel. Aug 29, Allison Hurd rated it it was amazing Shelves: fem-author , fantasy , classics. I was not prepared. If Wizard of Earthsea is a coming of age tale, and Atuan is about the power of self, where Farthest Shore speaks of death and the power of adulthood, Tehanu is the story of the power of the feminine.

All the joy, all the horror, the frustration, loss, fear, deep love, the resilience and resentment. It's here, in this book, in plain English, served on a platter made with both great satisfaction and abiding contempt.

Jo Walton on Ursula Le Guin's Tehanu

A master wordsmith shaped not just an allegory of femininity, I was not prepared. A master wordsmith shaped not just an allegory of femininity, but the truth of it, in its full complexity and hypocrisy. Be warned, it is not an easy read. Either it will speak to you so directly you will know anger, fear, and despair And if you feel neither, perhaps you live under Aspen's curse. May some dragon free you, and may she choose to be kind about it. Rape, mutilation, subservience, loss of a child, torture, coercion of will, home invasion.

View all 14 comments. It's possible that people who have never experienced much actual trauma or severe discrimination might not understand how on-target this book can be.


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And The Macho Paradox by Jackson Katz is a surprisingly good book on male violence and not just against women. Reading the first 3 Earth It's possible that people who have never experienced much actual trauma or severe discrimination might not understand how on-target this book can be. Reading the first 3 Earthsea books, I couldn't understand why some people called Le Guin a "feminist writer.

I love that each of the Earthsea books is very different, and this one certainly takes fantasy novels in a new direction. Dealing with your own weaknesses and other people's ignorance and fear in daily life can take far more courage and perseverance than any heroic quest. Honestly, the feminism of this book is no different from themes that are found in all her other books: no matter what status or power you have, it's important to have respect for people, maintain balance in your actions, and not rely excessively on force.

I'm not sure what to make of the ending, which doesn't tie up some loose ends Things are never neat and tidy. Life is complex; life goes on. Previously: The Farthest Shore View all 4 comments.