46 pages 1 hour read

Ursula K. Le Guin


Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2008

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Important Quotes

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“I won’t die. Of that I am all but certain. My life is too contingent to lead to anything so absolute as death. I have not enough real mortality.”

(Page 10)

Unlike typical protagonists, Lavinia knows that she’s a fictional character. Her existence is tied to the poet’s work, the Aeneid, but she’ll never die because her characterization is insufficient to warrant her death in the poem.

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“How is it that you understand me, who lived twenty-five or thirty centuries ago? Do you know Latin? But then I think no, it has nothing to do with being dead, it’s not death that allows us to understand one another, but poetry.”

(Page 11)

Lavinia notices inconsistencies in her reality, like the fact that the Trojans and the Latins understand each other in Lavinia and in the Aeneid. Instead of trying to puzzle out a solution to this problem, Lavinia accepts that communication can go beyond language and speaks through time to readers.

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“‘Are these scenes of Troy?’ I ask him, and he shakes his head.

‘I do not know what they are,’ he says. ‘They may be scenes of what is yet to come.’

‘What is yet to come is mostly war, then,’ I say.”

(Page 24)

When Lavinia looks at Aeneas’s shield, she sees the future. The tension inherent in the theme of Accepting and Resisting Fate is at play here: Although what she sees horrifies her, she knows that what the shield shows is inevitable.