Cover image for The wave in the mind : talks and essays on the writer, the reader, and the imagination
The wave in the mind : talks and essays on the writer, the reader, and the imagination
Le Guin, Ursula K., 1929-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Shambhala ; New York : Distributed in the United States by Random House, 2004.
Physical Description:
x, 304 pages ; 23 cm
Personal matters -- Introducing myself -- Being taken for granite -- Indian uncles -- My libraries -- My island -- On the frontier -- Readings -- All happy families -- Things not actually present: On the book of fantasy and J.L. Borges -- Reading young, reading old: Mark Twain's diaries of Adam and Eve -- Thinking about Cordwainer Smith -- Strews-rhythm in poetry and prose -- Rhythmic pattern in The Lord of the rings -- The wilderness within: The sleeping beauty and "the poacher" -- Off the page: loud cows: a talk and a poem about reading aloud -- Discussions and opinions -- Fact and/or/plus fiction -- Award and gender -- On genetic determinism -- About feet -- Dogs, cars, and dancers: thoughts about beauty -- Collectors, rhymesters, and drummers -- Telling is listening -- The operating instructions -- "A war without end" -- On writing -- A matter of trust -- The writer and the character -- Unquestioned assumptions -- Prides: an essay on writing workshops -- The question I get asked most often -- Old body not writing -- The writer on, and at, her work.
Electronic Access:
Table of contents
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3562.E42 W38 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Join Ursula K. Le Guin as she explores a broad array of subjects, ranging from Tolstoy, Twain, and Tolkien to women's shoes, beauty, and family life. With her customary wit, intelligence, and literary craftsmanship, she offers a diverse and highly engaging set of readings. The Wave in the Mind includes some of Le Guin's finest literary criticism, rare autobiographical writings, performance art pieces, and, most centrally, her reflections on the arts of writing and reading.

Author Notes

Ursula K. Le Guin was born Ursula Kroeber in Berkeley, California on October 21, 1929. She received a bachelor's degree from Radcliffe College in 1951 and a master's degree in romance literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance from Columbia University in 1952. She won a Fulbright fellowship in 1953 to study in Paris, where she met and married Charles Le Guin.

Her first science-fiction novel, Rocannon's World, was published in 1966. Her other books included the Earthsea series, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia, The Lathe of Heaven, Four Ways to Forgiveness, and The Telling. A Wizard of Earthsea received an American Library Association Notable Book citation, a Horn Book Honor List citation, and the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1979. She received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2014. She also received the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award. She also wrote books of poetry, short stories collections, collections of essays, children's books, a guide for writers, and volumes of translation including the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu and selected poems by Gabriela Mistral. She died on January 22, 2018 at the age of 88.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Le Guin is stimulating company. A profoundly creative and prolific fiction writer who has won a half-dozen major awards and enticed readers to science fiction who otherwise might not have ventured into that fantastic terrain, she is also a forthright, incisive, and funny essayist. In her second nonfiction collection, a piquant, morally lucid, and enlivening volume graced with a well-chosen phrase of Virginia Woolf's, Le Guin considers the pleasures and significance of reading, the true meaning of literacy, the power of the imagination, and the writer's responsibility. On a memoiristic note, she remembers her anthropologist father and Native American family friends. On the literary plane, she praises libraries as sacred places that embody freedom, pays homage to Borges and Twain, dissects the assumptions behind the designation creative nonfiction, and analyzes the rhythms of prose. And Le Guin is breathtakingly hilarious on the subjects of age, beauty, and womanhood. Candid, earthy, and deeply involved in the human experience, Le Guin is artist, mentor, and friend. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Principally known as a writer of fantasy fiction, Le Guin here proves herself to be a skilled and thought-provoking writer of nonfiction as well. Her persnickety, opinionated voice often leaps off the page, and, at her best, she guides readers easily through the vast realm of her ideas, from her thoughts on slavery and oppression and her opposition to E. O. Wilson's genetic determinism, to complex considerations of her favorite authors: Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain and J. R. R. Tolkein. One particularly fascinating essay, "Indian Uncles," allows readers a glimpse into Le Guin's family's history, especially of her anthropologist father's work with Native American men. However, the collection's uneven selection of pieces may leave readers longing for more of the interesting topics and fewer of the drafty prose explorations (e.g., "On Being Taken for Granite"). Le Guin's academically rigorous, but hard to follow, examination of verse and rhythm ("Stress-Rhythm in Poetry and Prose") may also lose most readers, and, in general, one can't help wishing that a stronger editorial hand had winnowed the inclusions a bit more. Nonetheless, the collection includes enough gems to make it a must-read for Le Guin's many fans. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

Le Guin enjoys an honored reputation as a winner of the National Book Award, as well as of the Hugo, Nebula, Gandalf, and Kafka awards. She has produced more than 15 novels, as well as works of literary criticism, poetry, and even children's literature. In this collection of essays, organized into thematic categories (e.g., "Personal Matters," "Readings," "Discussions and Opinions," and "On Writing"), she explores a variety of subjects through personal vignettes that give insight into her values. The essays also provide perceptive literary criticism on works by a wide range of authors, from Jorge Luis Borges to Mark Twain; incisive comments on fiction vs. nonfiction; and discussion of gender, beauty, literacy, privilege, and the writer's role and character. Le Guin is invariably thoughtful; she engages and challenges her readers' minds and values while exploring her own voice and modeling good prose style. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Carolyn M. Craft, Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.