“On the other side of words” is a monograph published by ActuSF and edited by David Meulemans.
American writer Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) is responsible for some of the greatest masterpieces of science fiction and fantasy literature. His work is permeated by the social sciences. Her futuristic or imaginary worlds are laboratories conducive to anthropological exploration, and she develops feminist and social reflections there. This does not mean that one sinks into an abstruse intellectualism: on the contrary, Ursula Le Guin is also a formidable storyteller, and with her, a deep reflection goes through a story and strong characters.
In a monograph published in October 2021, On the other side of the words, ActuSF editions devote more than 400 pages to the author’s work. Directed by David Meulemans (editor at Forges de Vulcain), this work represents a substantial sum, which does not only pay tribute to Ursula Le Guin. He also intends to decipher his work and his life in depth, well beyond what one reads in most of the articles which are usually devoted to him. An essential approach, in a beautiful cardboard box.
Beauty, intelligence and wisdom
The cover, signed Zariel, already sets the tone for this exploration: a multitude of colors. Now, if there is one author who was passionate about the multitude of othernesses in the Universe, it is Ursula Le Guin. From a very anthropological perspective, space travel is an excuse to discover societies that have evolved very differently from ours, for example.
This is what she does with The Left Hand of the Night, the author’s most famous novel, in which we discover a planet on which the genre does not exist – or rather, it is only incidental. In The Dispossessed, another major novel by Ursula Le Guin, the author takes us on a tour of an anarchist utopia on a planet called Anarres. What shows through, in fine, it is a humanism. A benevolent, but severe look on us, in a form of wisdom.
If we are to believe David Meulemans in the preface, On the other side of the words come ” promise, to anyone who wants to discover or rediscover Le Guin, to be a kind of card “. And the promise is kept: this “map” provides very useful benchmarks to better understand the cycles known to the author, such as Terremer – her great work of fantasy – but also takes us to fields that we know little (if at all) about the author – Le Guin, poet, translator, musician. Passing on the other side of the author’s words, the work plunges headlong into her dreams, her hopes, her criticisms.
David Meulemans could not find a better analogy than a map. Because while reading On the other side of the words, Ursula Le Guin’s work appears to us as a territory in its own right. A planet perhaps, with its mountains and wonders, its abysses, its seasons, its eras, its diversity, its history. And its mysteries which will remain unanswered, or those which, after or during the reading of this beautiful book, remain to be discovered by oneself by reading the author.
« We hope that reading this collection, in order or in disorder, in whole or in part, will be an opportunity for you to reap the fruits of Le Guin’s work: beauty, intelligence and wisdom », Invites David Meulemans. Isn’t there a better picking? These fruits of humanity offered by Ursula Le Guin, which will rest in your library to be rediscovered or shared, take on a form of eternity. The work of anthology to bring them together into a single coherent, profound, but accessible work, is admirable.
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