wishfulclicking: man in black and white pulling back a curtain to show moving sky (Default)
[personal profile] wishfulclicking
This is a post for a summer book club hosted by skuf.

This is not my first reading of The Left Hand of Darkness so feel free to mention events beyond the first chapter if you like in the comments. Because the discussion posts are based on the first chapter, that is what I’m going to mostly focus on.

What primarily sticks out for me when reading this first chapter is how Le Guin conveys the complete alien feeling of the setting but also of the main character. By having Genly Ai be an envoy to an alien planet, and by deciding to tell the story in his pov, Le Guin just drops the reader into this world that is completely different from Earth and introduces the world through someone who is also foreign to it, and closely aligned to perceptions most close to the modern world written at that time.

I like how different everything is and how slowly those differences are revealed: the confusion Genly Ai feels in trying to read Estraven, the relation to Time, the actual definition of an Island in this world, the mention of kemmering without truly explaining the definition. Also, starting the story with Genly Ai who has already spent time at the planet allows Le Guin to skip the whole new planet ship crashing thing and starts right with culture clashes and political games beyond Genly Ai’s scope.

The interactions between Genly Ai and Estraven,and Genly Ai’s confusion in relating to Estraven and other Gethens when it comes to describing them in his report, reinforce one of the differences in this world; he explicitly first describes Estraven with the male pronoun but then elaborates how perhaps he is not accurately describing Estraven and admits how Estraven’s ‘female coded’ behavior discomforts him.

Nationalism, and its true nature, was one of my favorite parts of this chapter. Wondering at the mix of aggression and hatred towards the other that’s paired with strong nationalistic tendencies and how Genly Ai, who is from a civilization that is viewed as having moved beyond the nation boundaries Gethen/Winter currently has, is a threat to that with his mission. Reading a book beyond the first time allows me to relax because I’m not worried about how the plot will fall because I already know that, and this allows me to take in more of the characteristics of the world and the conversations.

I’m definitely going to keep on reading this another time.
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wishfulclicking: man in black and white pulling back a curtain to show moving sky (Default)
needs to up my sock game

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