Short Story #305: The New Atlantis by Ursula K Le Guin

Title:  The New Atlantis

Author:  Ursula K Le Guin


Photo of Ursula K. Le Guin.  Source: narrator is returning from a "Wilderness Week" on a bus that has broken down and engaging in a discussion with an older man who is talking about the continents sinking while new ones are forming.  The woman narrator reflects on his words and her experience in the wilderness "vacation." The conditions of the vacation left much to be desired and it was less vacation and more work.  They continue their journey homeward which is plagued with additional problems along the way.  She arrives at home but there is no electricity so she uses candles.  She notices there is someone in her bed, unexpectedly.  It is her husband, who has returned a week early from the Rehabilitation Camp a week early due to injuring his back.  He was allowed to return because he is just famous enough for people to notice if he disappeared.  She notes that she is joyful for the first time that she can remember.  The story shifts into a metaphysical experience of the narrator as a change comes over her and the world becomes something new.  She witnesses the change and can only provide short commentary on it but it seems like she witnesses the world born anew and yet this world is somehow familiar.  However, in the end, the experience is dampened by the turning on of lights around her that signify the world that she comes from has returned.


This was a bit of a challenge for me as I had trouble fully understanding it.  Some of it might have to do with having a bad copy of the story that made it even more disjointed.  I get that there is some connection between her experience and the idea of new continents (a "New Atlantis" even) emerging mentioned at the beginning and that mayhaps that is what she dreams of that night in her arms, but I just don't feel that it feels a full enough of an experience.  
Short Story #305 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  10/15/2014
Source:  You can read the full story at this website.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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