‘My favorite story by Ursula K. Le Guin purports to be a journal of an all-female expedition to Antarctica, a venture mounted in 1909-10, after Scott’s failure to return from the South Pole and before Amundsen’s success. Along the way, the women run across the filthy, littered bachelor den where Scott’s party stayed. One woman goes into labor. They name the mountain ranges, but “not very seriously,” because they have agreed to tell no one that they beat “Mr. Amundsen” to the pole: “He would be terribly embarrassed and disappointed. There is no need for him or anyone else outside the family to know. We left no footprints, even.”

Hahaha. We left no footprints, even…

‘Sur, which appeared in Ms. Le Guin’s 1982 collection, The Compass Rose, typifies what she does best: construct a lightly ironic, playful and more or less fantastic fiction of ideas, with an interest in formal narrative considerations, the nature of female experience and the different methods by which men and women apprehend and respond to the world.’ Francine Prose, Herself a multitude in The New Yorker.

Ursula K. Le Guin had een simpele wens, zegt ze, ze wilde de mannen (Scot, Amundsen, Shackleton) vergezellen zoals ze al zo vaak lezend had gedaan, waarom kon een groep vrouwen, alle negen uit Zuid Amerika, in haar boek niet met hen mee, ze verslaan?

Deze eenvoudige wens, ‘to join them, fictionally’, werd een idee.
Het idee groeide, broeide, fizzelde.

– ‘Offer your experience as truth.’
– ‘Not claiming something, offering something.’
– ‘How, after all, can one experience deny, negate, disprove, another experience?’

Hoe over jezelf, je ervaring, te spreken ‘without the whining and complaining, the self-hatred and the self-justification’ (Vivian Gornick) is de taak om uit te vinden als je schrijft.

De vraag, denk ik, hoe geef je woede, resentment, het uitbarsten van de vulkaan mooi vorm? Het had honderd keer erger kunnen zijn, honderd keer beter.