Ursula K. Le Guin Quotes

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin

Born: 21 October 1929, Berkeley, California

Born Ursula Kroeber, her father was anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber, the first to earn a Ph.D. in anthropology in the US and when he founded the anthropology department at the University of California at Berkeley it was only the second such department in this country. Le Guin has commented on the similarity between her father’s descriptions of human anthropology and her creation of alien worlds. She earned her BA (Phi Beta Kappa) from Radcliffe College in 1951 and her Masters at Columbia the next year. She studied in France on a Fulbright scholarship, there she met the historian Charles Le Guin. They married in 1953 and bought a house at Portland, Oregon in 1958; at last report they still lived there. She first ventured published short was “April in Paris” which appeared in Fantastic magazine in 1962, her first novel to be published (sixth written) was Rocannon’s World in 1964. She has written twenty novels, fifteen children’s books, more than 100 short stories, two collections of essays, and five volumes of poetry.

Ursula K. Le Guin quotes:

A man wants his virility regarded, a woman wants her femininity appreciated, however indirect and subtle the indications of regard and appreciation. On Winter they will not exist. One is respected and judged only as a human being. It is an appalling experience.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

A moral choice in its basic terms appears to be a choice that favors survival: a choice made in favor of life.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

All of us have to learn how to invent our lives, make them up, imagine them. We need to be taught these skills; we need guides to show us how. If we don’t, our lives get made up for us by other people.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Almost everything carried to its logical extreme becomes depressing, if not carcinogenic.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

As great scientists have said and as all children know, it is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception, and compassion, and hope.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Belief in heaven and hell is a big deal in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and some forms of doctrinaire Buddhism. For the rest of us it’s simply meaningless. We don’t live in order to die, we live in order to live.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Claude Levi-Strauss has been a great source of fruitful irritation to my mind.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

He arrived at ideas the slow way, never skating over the clear, hard ice of logic, nor soaring on the slipstreams of imagination, but slogging, plodding along on the heavy ground of existence.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

He is far too intelligent to become really cerebral.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

I certainly wasn’t happy. Happiness has to do with reason, and only reason earns it. What I was given was the thing you can’t earn, and can’t keep, and often don’t even recognize at the time; I mean joy.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

I certainly wasn’t happy. Happiness has to do with reason, and only reason earns it. What I was given was the thing you can’t earn, and can’t keep, and often don’t even recognize at the time; I mean joy.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

I doubt that the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, he would grow up to be an eggplant.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

I have never found anywhere, in the domain of art, that you don’t have to walk to. (There is quite an array of jets, buses and hacks which you can ride to Success; but that is a different destination.) It is a pretty wild country. There are, of course, roads. Great artists make the roads; good teachers and good companions can point them out. But there ain’t no free rides, baby. No hitchhiking. And if you want to strike out in any new direction — you go alone. With a machete in your hand and the fear of God in your heart.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

If civilization has an opposite, it is war.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

If you see a whole thing – it seems that it’s always beautiful. Planets, lives…. But close up a world’s all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life’s a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

If you want your writing to be taken seriously, don’t marry and have kids, and above all, don’t die. But if you have to die, commit suicide. They approve of that.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

In art, ‘good enough’ is not good enough.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

In so far as one denies what is, one is possessed by what is not.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

It had never occurred to me before that music and thinking are so much alike. In fact you could say music is another way of thinking, or maybe thinking is another kind of music.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

It is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception and compassion and hope.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

It is of the nature of idea to be communicated: written, spoken, done. The idea is like grass. It craves light, likes crowds, thrives on crossbreeding, grows better for being stepped on.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Legends of prediction are common throughout the whole Household of Man. Gods speak, spirits speak, computers speak. Oracular ambiguity or statistical probability provides loopholes, and discrepancies are expunged by Faith.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Morning comes whether you set the alarm or not.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Reason is a faculty far larger than mere objective force. When either the political or the scientific discourse announces itself as the voice of reason, it is playing God, and should be spanked and stood in the corner.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Sci-fi uses the images that sf — starting with H.G. Wells — made familiar: space travel, aliens, galactic wars and federations, time machines, et cetera, taking them literally, not caring if they are possible or even plausible. It has no interest in or relation to real science or technology. It’s fantasy in space suits. Spectacle. Wizards with lasers. Kids with ray guns. I’ve written both, but I have to say I respect science fiction enough that I wince when people call it sci-fi.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Science fiction — and the correct shortcut is ‘sf’ — uses actual scientific facts or theories for the source ideas or framework of the story. It has some scientific content, however speculative. If it breaks a law of physics, it knows it’s doing so and follows up the consequences. If it invents a society of aliens, it does so with some respect for and knowledge of the social sciences and what you might call social probabilities. And some of it is literarily self-aware enough to treat its metaphors as metaphors.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Science fiction is not predictive; it is descriptive…. Prediction is the business of prophets, clairvoyants, and futurologists. It is not the business of novelists. A novelist’s business is lying…. Open your eyes; listen, listen. That is what the novelists say. But they don’t tell you what you will see and hear. All they can tell you is what they have seen and heard, in their time in this world, a third of it spent in sleep and dreaming, another third of it spent in telling lies.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The artist deals in what cannot be said in words. The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words. The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The children of the revolution are always ungrateful, and the revolution must be grateful that it is so.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The creative adult is the child who has survived.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The Earth is beautiful, and bright, and kindly, but that is not all. The Earth is also terrible, and dark, and cruel.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The end justifies the means. But what if there never was an end? All we have is means.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The greatest religious problem today is how to be both a mystic and a militant; in other words how to combine the search for an expansion of inner awareness with effective social action, and how to feel one’s true identity in both.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The important thing is not the finding, it is the seeking, it is the devotion with which one spins the wheel of prayer and scripture, discovering the truth little by little. If this machine gave you the truth immediately, you would not recognize it.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The individual cannot bargain with the State. The State recognizes no coinage but power: and it issues the coins itself.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The misogyny that shapes every aspect of our civilization is the institutionalized form of male fear and hatred of what they have denied and therefore cannot know, cannot share: that wild country, the being of women.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The notion that a story has a message assumes that it can be reduced to a few abstract words, neatly summarized in a school or college examination paper or a brisk critical review.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The only questions that really matter are the ones you ask yourself.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty, not knowing what comes next.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The power of the harasser, the abuser, the rapist depends above all on the silence of women.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The preservation of life seems to be rather a slogan than a genuine goal of the anti-abortion forces; what they want is control. Control over behavior: power over women. Women in the anti-choice movement want to share in male power over women, and do so by denying their own womanhood, their own rights and responsibilities.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The story — from Rumplestiltskin to War and Peace — is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind, for the purpose of gaining understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

The worst walls are never the ones you find in your way. The worst walls are the ones you put there—you build yourself.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

There are no right answers to wrong questions.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

There are things that outweigh comfort, unless one is an old woman or a cat.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

There’s a good deal in common between the mind’s eye and the TV screen, and though the TV set has all too often been the boobtube, it could be, it can be, the box of dreams.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

There’s a point, around age twenty, … when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.
    Ursula K. Le Guin – The Dispossessed (1974)

Things don’t have purposes, as if the universe were a machine, where every part has a useful function. What’s the function of a galaxy? I don’t know if our life has a purpose and I don’t see that it matters. What does matter is that we’re a part. Like a thread in a cloth or a grass-blade in a field. It is and we are. What we do is like wind blowing on the grass.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Those who dislike fantasy are very often equally bored or repelled by science. They don’t like either hobbits, or quasars; they don’t feel at home with them; they don’t want complexities, remoteness. If there is any such connection, I’ll bet that it is basically an aesthetic one
    Ursula K. Le Guin

To break a promise is to deny the reality of the past; Therefore it is to deny the hope of a real future….
    Ursula K. Le Guin

To hear, one must be silent.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

To light a candle is to cast a shadow.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

To oppose something is to maintain it.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

To see a candle’s light, one must take it into a dark place.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

To think that realistic fiction is by definition superior to imaginative fiction is to think imitation is superior to invention.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

True myth 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 true myth rises into consciousness, that is always its message. You must change your life.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Truth, as ever, avoids the stranger.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

What is an anarchist? One who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?
    Ursula K. Le Guin

When action grows unprofitable, gather information; when information grows unprofitable, sleep.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

Whenever they tell me children want this sort of book and children need this sort of writing, I am going to smile politely and shut my earlids. I am a writer, not a caterer. There are plenty of caterers. But what children most want and need is what we and they don’t know they want and don’t think they need, and only writers can offer it to them.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

You can’t crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

You cannot buy the Revolution. You cannot make the Revolution. You can only be the Revolution. It is in your spirit or, it is nowhere.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

You must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act. The world is in balance, in Equilibrium.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

You thought, as a boy, that a mage is one who can do anything. So I thought, once. So did we all. And the truth is that as a man’s real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do.
    Ursula K. Le Guin

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