Ursula K. LeGuin: American Masters

Ursula K. LeGuin: American Masters

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Photo: Ursula K. Le Guin

Courtesy of American Masters

This powerful documentary focuses on her robust career and begins with Le Guin’s early struggle to get published in the overwhelmingly male and realism-dominated climate of the early 1960s.

Ursula K. Le Guin's first major breakthrough came with the young adult novel “A Wizard of Earthsea,” set in a magical archipelago inhabited by wizards and dragons. Along with groundbreaking novels like “The Left Hand of Darkness” and “The Dispossessed,” “Earthsea” crowned Le Guin as the queen of science fiction by the end of the decade. But as a woman and a genre writer, she still faced marginalization that hobbled her career until the last decade of her life, when she won the National Book Foundation’s lifetime achievement award and became the second living author to have their work anthologized by the Library of Congress.

The film dives into Le Guin’s childhood, steeped in the myths and stories of Native Americans she heard growing up in Berkeley, California, as the daughter of prominent 19th century anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and writer Theodora Kroeber, author of the influential book “Ishi in Two Worlds.” This deep childhood understanding of cultural relativism infused her work with a unique perspective; her otherworldly societies are all in some way reflections of our own. Ursula K. LeGuin: American Masters airs Tuesday, March 24, 2020 at 2 p.m. on WXXI-WORLD.