It happens on a planet inhabited by humanoids. The main character grew up in a society where they don't speak about themselves at all. When they talk they refer to themselves in third person, like "someone thinks", "it could be thought". Speaking about wishes, emotions etc is a taboo. The main character, a young male, is of noble descent, maybe even an heir, decides to leave his country. He travels around, encounters different societies and accepts internally that people can also talk and refer to themselves with "I". There were no aliens, and no focus on fighting.

The story / novel was written before 1995 (that's when I read it). It's too long for a story, too short for a book, probably 50 to 150 pages. The story is written in first-person, but I might be wrong there.

I read this around the same time that I read "The Left Hand of Darkness" by Ursula K Le Guin, and I can feel a similar atmosphere in the book.

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    Could it be Ayn Rand's Anthem? It sounds similar but the characters there talk in first-person plural (we, us) rather than third person. The main character there isn't of noble descent (to my recollection) but he does go on a journey of literal self-discovery. May 20, 2021 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


I suspect this is A Time of Changes by Robert Silverberg, written in 1971.


One of the strangest is on Borthan, where the founding settlers established the Covenant, which teaches that the self is to be despised, and forbids anyone to reveal his innermost thoughts or feelings to another. On Borthan, the filthiest obscenities imaginable are the words "I" and "me." For the heinous crime of "self-baring," apostates have always paid with exile or death, but after his eyes are opened by a visitor from Earth, Kinnall Darival, prince of Salla, risks everything to teach his people the real meaning of being human

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