The Space Crone

LeGuin, Ursula

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Jan-24-2000


In this short essay on the status of post-menopausal women, Le Guin examines the special status of older, experienced women who have lived through the trials and tribulations of the advent of sexuality, childbearing, and the end of the reproductive period. The author speaks to the special knowledge and wisdom acquired through these experiences and finally suggests that the most telling and viable representative of the human race on earth is the crone, who has known so much of what it means to be human. Le Guin would nominate such a crone for the space venture to the fourth planet of Altair in order to help the Altairians to "learn from an exemplary person the nature of the race."


This is essentially a celebration of the achievement of the fine status of "cronism," sublime old age of a woman who has known the common role of sexual being, mother, and menopausal release from some of the constraints and concerns attendant upon being a young woman. The author suggests that this stage in the life of woman should be one to be honored for its depth of knowledge and experience that no younger person, and no male, can claim. The essay may be read as yet another view on the potential power of aging women.

Primary Source

Dancing at the Edge of the World


Grove: Atlantic

Place Published

New York



Page Count