I didn’t read Ursula Le Guin until 2015. I read “The Left Hand of Darkness” first. So profoundly touched by the story, i wanted more. So i read on and eventually come upon her Earthsea series. For reasons i couldn’t recall, i seemed to be in a big hurry and was very impatient during that time. Earthsea struck me as good but i didn’t find it particular interesting, maybe it was overshadowed by “the Left Hand of Darkness”? Or maybe i was not in the right mood.
At the end of 2019, Noah went through a period of Chinese fever. He asked me to read through our entire set of Hayao Miyazaki graphic presentation of Studio Ghibli animations, among them was the”Tales from Earthsea”. Unsatisfied with the vagueness of every main character’s backstory, I picked up “A Wizard of Earthsea” from our library on the evening before the Christmas holiday. Throughout the holiday, I would read one chapter to Noah before bed. Both Noah and I were mesmerized.
Reading at a slow pace, the magic of “A Wizard of Earthsea” came to life for me. I finally appreciated how great the language was.
Browsing the other people’s quote selection, i realized many was touched as much as I was during the first meeting between Ged and the Archmage Nemmerle on Roke, in the court of fountain.
As their eyes met, a bird sang aloud in the branches of the tree. In that moment Ged understood the singing of the bird, and the language of the water falling in the basin of the fountain, and the shape of the clouds, and the beginning and end of the wind that stirred the leaves: it seemed to him that he himself was a word spoken by the sunlight.
But what touched me even more was when Ged came again to that same court after he had unleashed his Shadow from the underworld.
The fountain leaped in the sunlight, and Ged watched it a while and listened to its voice, thinking of Memmerle. Once in that court he had felt himself to be a world spoken by the sunlight. Now the darkness also had spoken: a word that could not be unsaid.
Later in “The Farthest Shore”, i came across another phrase that was at once beautiful and precise. More over it was something I’ve been searching for since my teens, in both Chinese and English. It was incredulous to have finally found it. At the beginning i thought it must have been a common phrase, i just never crossed path with it. But google search seemed to indicate this phrase has only appeared this once in the vast data storage we call Google. Which made this encounter that more magical. As if it had been waiting for me here patiently since its existence. “The Farthest Shore” was published in 1972.
The scene happened in the Immanent Grove, Ged was calling all the masters of Roke to come and consult about the rumors Arren brought, that magic is disappearing on the fringe of Earthsea. After sending out the msg for a meeting, Ged “fall asleep in the leafspotted sunlight.” I’ve been obsessed with those sunlight filtered through branches and leaves since a young age. Finally i’ve found its proper name.
The actual copies we picked up from SF Public Library was from the 2012 reprint. Each has an “Afterward” by Le Guin, which I really enjoy, too.