Review: Lavinia by Ursula Le GuinLe Guin has taken a character from Virgil and breathed new life into her, says Charlotte Ursula K Le Guin. Lavinia, by Ursula K. Le Guin: A Review by Guy Haley from Death Ray Magazine, reprinted with the kind permission of the author at the web site of author Ursula. An excerpt from Lavinia, at the web site of author Ursula K. Le Guin.

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The beautiful young princess of Latium one of many petty kingdoms in the lavinix age of pre-Roman Italyshe was betrothed to the warlord Turnus, but an oracle told her father that her rightful husband was in fact Aeneas, the last scion of the royal house of Troy, who had just landed on their shores. The Silmarillion by J.

There are some nice metafic touches with Lavinia talking direct to the reader and chatting with the ghost of Virgil, but not enough to stop my eyes sliding off the page. Here’s what I learned: She feels terrible guilt over being the cause of a war she never wanted, and she’s conflicted because she knows she should support her fellow Latins, but she is also destined for Aeneas.

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

As delightful as it is to see Virgil’s epic through an Italian princess’s gui frank and sensible perspective, it’s a tragic and brief part of Lavinia’s story, both as a person and as a character in a seemingly immortal piece of literature.

Even the hounds knew him and seldom started him, having been scolded and beaten for doing so. This idea is ratcheted up by Le Guin herself interacting with both Vergil and Lavinia, and in a way, this drew me, as the reader, further into the story. Le Guin infuses her with intelligence and courage, but never breaks character with what little was established in Virgil. After Aeneas’ death, Ascanius becomes King of Latium and Lavinia is forced to raise her son, Silvius, in the forest because she is afraid Ascanius means to harm him.

She has taken a minor, even bloodless character from that poem, and breathed life into her. I know that he said I raved, and tore my golden tresses at my mother’s death. Her older, wiser, voice as a narrator comes from not from an old woman, but from her story.

It was like listening to pan-pipe music; inoffensive, but basically dull. It is not a book about great deeds, or turning points or moments; it is about the persistence of life, the passage of time, the sowing of crops, the sorrow of mothers for sons killed, of disagreements and reconciliations.


Many people who have read the Aeneid a long time ago, including myself, I admit, do not even remember her, at least by name. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Amata is determined that Lavinia will marry her nephew Turnus, king i neighboring Rutulia. I don’t blame Vergil for barely mentioning Lavinia — she might well have been lost to history if he never named her; if she even was an actual historical figure — but I do appreciate Le Guin’s attempt to breathe some life into her narrative.

Cattle-pens and paddocks and pastures stretched away back from the kitchen gardens among the low, oak-crowned hills. Books by Ursula K. You think it’s going somewhere, then it’s just over. I always found it to be a chore, as poetry is more challenging to translate than textbook translating exercises like “Roma est in Italia. The Hainish Cycle reflects the anthropologist’s experience of immersing themselves in new strange cultures since most of their main characters l narrators Le Guin favoured the first person narration are envoys from a humanitarian organization, the Ekumen, sent to investigate or ally themselves with the people of a different world and learn their guln.

I actually like this Aeneas. I really like and identify with this Lavinia, and I support her choices, whereas in the Aeneid I simply pitied her for not having any choices.

There, I said it. Those roles belonged to Amazons and huntresses; queens and future queens had a different calling. That’s a good thing, right?

The princess with flaming hair

Pallas and I backed away slowly, our gaze always on her eyes. What was he called? He smelled sweet and strong and gamy. Home Tributes to Ursula K. Atwood focuses on the oppression of women, but LeGuin who has always shown an appreciation for the beauties of everyday life convincingly explores how women could find fulfillment and power within the roles allowed them.

Lavinia (novel) – Wikipedia

Le Guin has a true gift for evoking the mysterious echoes of a far distant mythic past. I especially found the duties depicted, the rituals so natural and comforting. It was sacred to Pan, he said, which seemed to be what the Greeks called our grandfather Faunus. There are only hints and foreshadowings of the ursulx of the Rome-to-come: Even a poet cannot get guih right. What I liked was the way the author transported me to ancient Italy without being overly wordy or descriptive.


I have never blamed him. Lavinia has a certain self-awareness as a literary lqvinia, a character who owes her existence to the imaginative inner life of Virgil, but also comes and lavinis in some realm outside his direct grasp. Her interest in non-Western philosophies was reflected in works such as ‘Solitude’ and ‘The Telling’ but even more interesting are her imagined societies, often mixing traits extracted from her profound knowledge of anthropology acquired from growing up with her father, the famous anthropologist, Alfred Kroeber.

Unquestionably worth the read.

It is a meditative interpretation suggested by a minor character in his story —- the unfolding of a hint. Instead, the story keeps nervously returning to Virgil, and Lavinia is somehow aware she’s only a character in gujn book some of the time and a full character in her own right at other times. Stories have been pouring out of Le Guin these last few years, as if the ripeness of her words must be shared.

Core to her penetrating appreciation of life is her deep understanding of what divides, and unites, the genders.

They have much of the same strength, patience, and devotion to duty. Instead, we get a summary of her life, a nod to Aeneas, and an even quicker summary of her life after. The old cooks ran the kitchen for her, the old slaves kept the household for her, the girls swept the hearth and fed the fire for her; she had all the time in the world to run free on the hills and play with her pet animals. I turned right and ran past the kitchens out into the great central courtyard, where a fountain played under the laurel tree my father planted when he was young, and lemon trees and sweet daphne and shrubs of thyme and oregano and tarragon grew in big pots, and women worked and chatted and spun and lavlnia and rinsed out jugs and bowls in the l pool.

She washed him and combed him, and decked his splendid antlers with vines in autumn and flower-wreaths in spring. Published April 1st by Harcourt, Urwula.

It made me drowsy. Lavinia First edition cover. Silvia came to keep me company sometimes at the Regia, lvainia we both preferred to be at the her place.