Ursula Le Guin

Lorna Hardwick and James I. Porter

in Sibylline Sisters

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199582969
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731198 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Ursula Le Guin

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Ursula Le Guin's 2008 novel Lavinia tells the story of Lavinia, the Italian princess who had been promised to Turnus, but who becomes Aeneas' prize as he defeats Turnus and takes over Latinum. Lavinia, who is one of the slightest and most overlooked characters from the Aeneid, tells the story of her girlhood, of the events surrounding her marriage with Aeneas, and of Aeneas' death and her widowhood. She finds a voice, not only with which to address readers of the 21st century, but also with which she can converse with the spirit of Virgil and challenge him over his presentation of the Aeneid from so imperial and male a point of view. Le Guin situates these conversations between Lavinia and Virgil in a ‘nowhen’ space, a place out of time, so that on occasion Lavinia, whose fictional existence preceded Virgil's, looks ahead to the birth of her creator. At other times she looks back to the time when she was brought into being at the hands of Virgil, as her creator. This extra-temporal dimension underlines the endless capacity of the Aeneid to create its own futures, to be made new and find a fresh voice asserting its relevance over two millennia later and in a new world on a different continent.

Keywords: Virgil; women writers; Lavinia; Aeneid; girlhood

Chapter.  7470 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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