Today, I want to bring your attention to a remarkable woman, Ursula Kroeber Le Guin. Born on October 21, 1929, Le Guin was an American author who penned novels, children’s books, and short stories, primarily in the realms of fantasy and science fiction. Her works, first published in the 1960s, often portrayed futuristic or alternative worlds with a unique perspective on politics, the natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality, and ethnography.
Le Guin’s influence extends far and wide, inspiring Booker Prize winners such as Salman Rushdie and David Mitchell, and notable science fiction and fantasy writers like Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks. She was a recipient of the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award, each more than once. In 2014, she was honored with the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. A resident of Portland, Oregon since 1959, Le Guin’s legacy continues to inspire and challenge us.
One aspect of Le Guin’s life that has always fascinated me was a simple sign she kept over her desk. It read:
These three questions, though simple, provide a framework for a thoughtful, considerate approach to life, work, and communication. They encourage us to seek truth, evaluate the value of our actions, and strive for empathy and understanding.
If you’re interested in exploring Le Guin’s world, I’d recommend starting with “The Left Hand of Darkness,” a novel that explores themes of gender and identity in a way that was groundbreaking for its time. Another must-read is “A Wizard of Earthsea,” the first book in a series that has become a classic of children’s literature.
Practicing Ursula Le Guin’s Triad of Truth
Le Guin’s triad of questions serves as a guiding philosophy, a compass to navigate the complexities of life. As you go about your day, consider these questions. You might find them a useful tool to live a life of greater truth, purpose, and compassion.
And remember, keep it awkward, brave, and kind.