Study Guide

The Left Hand of Darkness Writing Style

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Writing Style

Planetary Tour Guide

Le Guin imagined an entire world with The Left Hand of Darkness, and her writing style is going to take you on a platinum, double-decker tour of it. She packs each chapter with paragraphs describing the details of life on Gethen—from architecture to weather patterns, diets to traveling habits. Here's a passage from Ai's description of the city of Rer:

All the buildings of Rer are fantastically massive, deep-founded, weatherproof and waterproof. In winter the wind of the plains may keep the city clear of snow, but when it blizzards and piles up they do not clear the streets, having no streets to clear. They use stone tunnels, or burrow temporary ones in the snow. (5.16)

This is like the Lonely Planet Guide to Gethen, and that's just the beginning. Le Guin paints an entire picture of the city, which is just one city in Karhide. Ai visits plenty more.

If you can imagine a Travel Channel special where Anthony Bourdain goes to another planet in a distance galaxy, then you have a feel for Le Guin's wonderfully picturesque writing style.

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