Feminist Narratives of Mid-Century America: Reading Aesthetics in Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness Through Lolita’s Lens

  • Nicole Paletta University of Victoria


The portrayal, or lack thereof, of feminine power in Ursula Le Guin’s 1969 novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, is contentious: scholars either praise the text for portraying
a feminist utopia or criticise it for a failed attempt at equalising genders. Using aestheticization in Nabokov’s Lolita to illustrate that mass consumerism and female subjugation are inextricably linked in mid-century America, I argue that, in The Left Hand of Darkness, the absence of aesthetics—from the material objects, atmosphere, and Gethenian attitudes toward sexuality—strengthens its reading as a feminist text.