Danielle Aubert's Library of The Dispossessed examines the lived experience of one hundred used copies of The Dispossessed, a 1974 science fiction novel by Ursula Le Guin. It takes the form of polyphonic group readings, a book of readers' marks, and an instrumental interpretation of the markings, composed by Jason Treuting of So Percussion and Mobius Percussion.
The used, mass market paperback has little value. This particular volume — The Dispossessed — is available cheaply or for free as an e-book (Amazon), audio book (Audible), PDF or TeX file (Anarchist Library). Most of the books collected for The Library of the Dispossessed were purchased from online resellers. They are marked by previous owners (New Tecumseth Public Library, Kate Wilkins, Lee W. Smith); bear messages from past readers (“good move!,” “I’m going to vomit,” “don’t ever let yourself be owned”); and carry miscellaneous scraps of paper (a boarding pass, a reminder to pick up Jess at 09:00).
Sometimes subtitled "An Ambiguous Utopia," The Dispossessed is the story of a physicist, Shevek, who travels from his home planet, Anarres, whose society is devoid of possessions, thus owners, to its sister planet Urras. There, Shevek encounters things he hasn’t experienced before, such as class difference, gender hierarchy and everyday signs of excess, like the complicated layers of packaging around a box of chocolates. This book dispossesses the originals of the 100 different copies of The Library of The Dispossessed by extracting the comments as a new text from the books' content, page by page.
2015, 416 pp, 9 full- and double page colour, and 315 full- and double page b/w illustrations, 240 x 165 mms, softcover, 250 copies, ISBN 978-3-940215-16-1, $ 25.00. Including index of notes and marginalia, index of most heavily marked passages, register of The Library of The Dispossessed, register of leftover readers' marks.
This publication was made possible with the support of the Lewis Center for the Arts (Princeton University, NYC).