I read Lavinia,
by Ursula
while in Fall River
over the weekend. It was about as good as you’d expect if
you’ve read LeGuin’s other “Anthropology Fiction”. The review
which brought the book to my attention said that it
wasn’t as good as The
Left Hand of Darkness
, but the reviewer had looked at it again before
filling out her Hugo Award ballot, and decided it was definitely
one of the best five new books she’d read last year.

My personal favorite of Leguin’s is The
, but I agree with the assessment.

As always, the writing is superb. The phrase that sticks in my
mind is a reference to an aging woman as being “in the twilight of
the mind”. It probably struck me more because I was with my 86
year old mother, but it really seems like a kinder way to
describe what happens than “senility”. In my mother’s case, her
mind still works as well as ever on what she’s actually
concentrating on at the moment, but she just doesn’t seem to be
able to think of anything besides what she’s concentrating on at
the moment.

As far as her reconstruction of how Vergil might have wanted to
finish the Aeneid, as I remember Aeneas from my Vergil course with
<a href="Professor
in 1972, I didn’t see him
as someone who would have agonized over having committed a war
crime. But the scene where Vergil wonders whether his friend
the Emperor Augustus will get the point does ring true.

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