Nu är den första boken i kursen Science Fiction & Fantasy avklarad! Jag måste säga att första delen av The Earthsea Cycle av Ursula K. Le Guin inte imponerade stort. Den kändes som en klassisk och bitvis steretyp allåldersfantasy med den fula ankungen Ged och hans kamp mot det onda inom sig själv.
Men den är också skriven relativt tidigt i fantasyns moderna historia och som jag har förstått saken utvecklas böckerna väldigt mycket längre fram i serien (någonting som bland annat diskuteras av den nya zeeländska författaren/bibliotekarien Margaret Mahy).
På vårt diskussionsforum har jag skrivit inlägg framförallt gällande genusordningen i Earthsea. Här kommer två av mina inlägg:
"I absolutely agree with all of you who commented the structure of female characters in Earthsea. This is also surprising knowing how Le Guin wrote Left hand of darkness and thoroughly explored gender issues.
Both the lack of female characters and the form of the ones appearing are troubling. The character Serret is the only female appearing more than once and in any larger sense. And her part as an evil temptress feels really archetypical and sad.
But one thing that’s interesting with the social structures of Earthsea is that most inhabitants seem to be of some colour. This is rarely the case in western fantasy, which tends to be quite ethnocentric. Did anyone else reflect on this?"
"I agree with T – very interesting questions, E! Questions that brings me dangerously close to thoughts of the author as a person, and not just the implied author.
In an excerpt from a doctoral dissertation on Western fantasy fiction for children found on Le Guin’s webpage, Sharada Bhanu discusses the difference between the female characters in the first trilogy, compared to Tehanu, the fourth part in the series:
“[---] the text has emerged from a growth in consciousness on the part of the author and a changed cultural ethos, in particular the feminist movement. ‘Weak as women’s magic; wicked as women’s magic’ goes a saying in Earthsea, the school of Roke admits no women. Women, particularly in Wizard and Shore are weak, wicked, marginalised, missing or dead. Tehanu redresses the balance by presenting a woman’s world, interests, magic and problems
I haven’t read more than the first part myself, but it really sounds like the author was influenced by a feministic insight and actually constructed her characters differently as a consequence of this.
In a Q&A section in The Guardian Le Guin answers a question on how she had reconsidered Earthsea and its inhabitants between part 3 and 4:
“Briefly, what happened in the 17 years between Farthest Shore and Tehanu was that feminism was reborn, and I became 17 years older, and learned a good deal. One of the things I learned was how to write as a woman, not as an honorary, or imitation, man. From a woman's point of view, Earthsea looked quite different than it did from a man's point of view.”
It’s maybe not entirely kosher to bring in the words of the author as a person into a literary discussion, but I still found it quite interesting.
I wasn’t as impressed by A wizard of Earthsea as I’ve always thought I would be. I found it to be a very traditional fantasy novel (and yes, I’m aware of the fact that it’s early on in the history of fantasy =), clearly very Tolkienesque. The gender issues feel very unmodern as well.
But I’m very curious about the later books in the series – they sound very interesting!"
Nästa bok blir Emma Bulls War for the Oaks - jag rapporterar vidare!