WIR #40: Lavinia

LaviniaLe Guin, Ursula K. Lavinia. New York: Harcourt, Inc. Copyright © 2008, by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Ursula K. Le Guin's web site:

I received Lavinia as a gift either last Christmas or for my last birthday, I can't remember which. When I decided to read Le Guin's Steering the Craft, I thought what better to read while reading a book by Le Guin on the art and craft of writing than a novel by the woman herself?

Properly, I already should have read Vergil's The Aeneid (which I own, but haven't), since Lavinia, the king's daughter, is the woman whom Vergil's hero is fighting to claim. The blurb for this book notes that Vergil never gave Lavinia a voice in his poem. Le Guin, here, has rectified that injustice. That being the case, The Aeneid would likely provide little more than familiarity with Lavinia's background. Then again, The Aeneid being the Roman answer to Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey, seeing that I've read the latter two, perhaps I've already all the background necessary. Better still, I'll trust to Le Guin to provide me with all I need to know.

The surname Le Guin bespeaks, I believe, a French origin, which points, in turn, to Latium. Le Guin's first name, Ursula, which is Latin in origin, is reminiscent of the constellations Ursa Major (the Big Bear, where the 'Big Dipper' is located) and Ursa Minor (the Little Bear, where the 'Little Dipper' and Polaris, the North Star, are located). Who better, then, to give Latium's Lavinia voice than the skilled Bear of Oregon?

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