Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (; October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018) was an American author. She was best known for her works of speculative fiction, including the science fiction works set in the Hainish Universe and the fantasy series of Earthsea. First published in 1959, her literary career spanned nearly sixty years, during which she released more than twenty novels and over a hundred short stories, in addition to many volumes of poetry, literary criticism, translations, and children's books. Frequently described as author of science fiction, Le Guin has said she would prefer to be known as an "American novelist", and has been called a "major voice in American Letters".Le Guin was born in Berkeley, California, to author Theodora Kroeber and scholar Alfred Louis Kroeber. Having earned a Master's degree in French, Le Guin began doctoral studies, but abandoned these after her marriage in 1953 to historian Charles Le Guin. She began writing full-time in the 1950s, and achieved major critical and commercial success with A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) and The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), described by Harold Bloom as her masterpieces. For the latter volume Le Guin won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel, becoming the first woman to do so. Several more works set in Earthsea or the Hainish Universe followed; other significant pieces include the experimental work Always Coming Home (1985), works set in the fictional country of Orsinia, and many anthologies.
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True myths may serve for thousands of years as an inexhaustible source of intellectual speculation, religious joy, ethical inquiry, and artistic renewal. The real mystery is not destroyed by reason. The fake one is. You look at it and it vanishes. You look at the Blond Hero — really look — and he turns into a gerbil. But you look at Apollo, and he looks back at you. The poet Rilke looked at a statue of Apollo about fifty years ago, and Apollo spoke to him. "You must change your life," he said. When the true myth rises into consciousness, that is always its message: "You must change your life.
An enormous conflict between words and deeds is prevalent today: everyone talks about freedom, democracy, justice, human rights, about peace and saving the world from nuclear apocalypse; and at the same time, everyone, more or less, consciously or unconsciously, serves those values and ideals only to the extent necessary to serve himself and his "worldly" interests, personal interests, group interests, power interests, property interests, and state or great-power interests. . . . So the power structures apparently have no other choice than to sink deeper into this vicious maelstrom, and contemporary people apparently have no other choice than to wait around until the final inhibition drops away. But who should begin? Who should break this vicious circle? Responsibility cannot be preached but only borne, and the only possible place to begin is with oneself.