707 We, Yevgeny ZamyatinWe Russian , translit My is a dystopian novel by Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin, completed in 1921 The novel was first published in 1924 by E P Dutton in New York in an English translation by Gregory Zilboorg The novel describes a world of harmony and conformity within a united totalitarian state 2012 1352 220 1379 266 964718803 20 We by Yevgeny Zamyatin is a must read for fans and students of the Dystopian genre Published in 1920, before Brave New World and well before 1984 which could even be considered a second generation 1984 as Orwell began his seminal work after reading a French translation of We Zamyatin s vision is well before his time Writing in response to his experiences with the Bolsheviks but without a direct link to the communists, We takes place in a post apocalyptic world where pockets of civilized humanity survive in a totalitarian state We, however, is not timeless as Huxley s and Orwell s works may be Perhaps some of his original meanings have been lost in the cultural and generational translations as well as from the original Russian, We can be a difficult story to follow and lacks some of the malevolent charm and suspense of the recognized works The glass house is at once a statement about the loss of individualism and privacy and also a metaphor for socialism that Pasternak would poetically describe years later. Let s play Guess That Groundbreaking Novel Question A party functionary who is recording his experiences in a journal lives in a future fascist society which maintains its solidarity by compulsory attendance at public events dominated by a remote, all powerful leader He meets a woman, a secret rebel who expresses her revolutionary impulses through her sexuality, and the two of them carry on an affair in room in an old house which symbolizes what life was like in the days before the new society The man becomes a revolutionary too, but still has doubts, and, after undergoing a mind violating experience, betrays his lover and the revolution too Guess that groundbreaking novel Answer George Orwell s 1984 Response Close But not exactly groundbreaking The proper answer is Yevgeny Zyamatin s We We was published in English in 1924, and reviewed by Orwell in the Tribune Magazine in 1946 1984 was not published until 1949 Yes, it is Zyamatin not Orwell who has the honor of being a groundbreaking dystopian novelist As well as the honor of being one of the first soviet dissidents His novel could only be published abroad, and he was soon forced into exile Still, Orwell s novel is clearly superior to Zyamatin s We, unlike 1984, is an honest to god science fiction novel, complete with an honest to god rocket ship, futuristic buildings, and experimental brain operations Because of this, it has a charm the Orwell novel lacks, for 1984 is essentially a bleak, clear eyed vision set in a shabbier version of post war Britain plus the totalitarian, of course Where We fails is precisely where 1984most succeeds in its treatment of language itself and its effects on pre revolutionary and post revolutionary consciousness which in We s case is synonumous with the before and after of love.The hero of We is a builder of rocket ships, and a typical man of his society He thinks of everything in terms of logic, quantifiers and physical entities, and his metaphors are filled with numbers and geometrical shapes Only later, when his heart is touched by sexual passion, does he speak a language like ours, touched by emotion and the beauties of our natural world This is all fine in theory, but it results in a prose at least in the two translations I used which is often odd and alienating, and sometimes completely baffling Unfortunately, when our hero falls in love, his language becomes filled with clich , and it is difficult to distinguish his revolutionary sentiments from the sentimental outpourings of a second rate romance novel The novel buckles under its burden of language, and that is why the plot of We which thankgoodness Orwell stole and turned into a classic is interesting than the novel itself. This is a classic Russian science fiction dystopian novel published in 1924 that influenced many following books 1984 and Brave New World and authors such as Kurt Vonnegut and Ayn Rand According to Wiki We is generally considered to be the grandfather of the satirical futuristic dystopia genre The book had to be published outside of the USSR because under Stalin the author ended up first imprisoned and later exiled to France In an Introduction, Foreword and Preface we are told that the book emphasizes the insidious pressures for conformity in the new Russia.People of the United State are called Numbers, which they all wear on the chests of their unifs as they walk around four abreast They all wake up at the same time and leave work at the same time and have a personal hour and sexual days They live in high rise glass cubicles, with curtains They attend compulsory meetings in auditoriums where they sing hymns to the state and hear from the Well Dooer on a big screen They have to vote for him each year on the Day of Unanimity They eat a petroleum based food Rare resistances are punished by the offender being placed in a machine that dissolves him into water A Green Wall separates the urban area from the remining wild world outside The main character is an engineer involved in building a spaceship to conquer other planets He happens to find a lover who is involved with a small group of potential rebels And lover is the wrong word the system does not allow love or permanent pairings just hookups A corrupt doctor gives them alcohol and nicotine and they have a way of getting to the outside world beyond the wall The main character starts thinking about his soul and about having a child The rebellion may be spreading but at the same time, the state is introducing a new required lobotomy type operation to nip this in the bud Why a rating of 3 This book has been in my TBR for years but I ll be honest and say I m not a fan of sci fi or dystopian novels The author uses math terms in symbolic ways that don t help the story along The dialog seemed herky jerky to me at times and some of the plot I thought was confusing Still I m glad I read it Top image Le Corbusier s 1924 plan for Paris envisaged razing the city from Montmartre to the Seine to build 18 giant skyscrapers From thetimes.co.ukSketch of the author from Wikipedia Sci fi s in my top three least favorite fiction genres However, this one is thankfully not Brave New World, has traces of madness and poetry both, and possesses the Waltmanesque quality of being organic, though the theme of Dystopian Machinery should be inevitably super structured The protagonist s POV is impressive As builder of a space ship that will provide aliens or us with an account of the glass metropolis see communism , he transitions from zombie troglodyte to someone infected with a soul This was one of the landmark classics of science fiction, and along with the aforementioned World sorry, just not a fan 1984 haven t read it makes up a celebrated trilogy.The protagonist becomes human his confusion infuses the work with a sense of wonderment, of a certain etherealness There are events that both the reader and the hero do not fully understand, and this is my favorite thing about this work Some things are overexplained, others oversimplified That nouns are described geometrically and in terms of mathematics is quite a unique interpretation of the fall of a machine society Well beyond its time, this is tellingly an important brick in the wall of the Global Lit Sci Fi fortress. The prototype of dystopian fiction a vivisection of monolithic faith and cruelty in the name of We Dystopian science fiction never analyses the future, even though it is the supposed topic of the novel It looks at the past, and follows the road that humanity has already embarked on, to its logical next step When Zamyatin wrote We , the society he knew was rapidly changing, breaking apart, one authoritarian structure was being replaced with another, through the means of a violent clash, a revolution, supported by a technological jump to modernity, delivering tools to control ideology through mass propaganda and effective weapons What triggers revolutions What makes human beings accept authority What defines collective and individual identity How does power make use of human needs to control society All these questions are raised in the voice of a member of a monolithic state, OneState, a futuristic powerhouse that has managed to create a system that guides its citizens towards collective sameness The community of We is protected from the outer world the freedom of choice by a great Green Wall Yes A wall Ever since the beginning of time and in Zamyatin s traditional mythological context, that means since the beginning of Christian tales in the paradise of the all powerful, authoritarian god a wall has protected the collective in possession of truth from the evil of freedom, or diversity According to OneState s dogma, Adam and Eve were stupid to choose freedom over happiness , and since they were expelled from the beautifully walled in paradise, Christian fundamentalist believers in monolithic conformity have strived to re establish the chains that deliver complete safety, which is falsely labelled happiness.In the automatised, regulated OneState, this utopian idea of a new paradise is accomplished, and everything is done according to the collective need, in complete disregard of personal identity and emotions Sexuality is regulated to the point of absurdity, and each individual follows a strict schedule for the benefit of the superior Benefactor, who is the authoritarian leader or monotheistic god of OneState There are cracks in the wall, though, as people still think and feel Even though it is supposedly illegal, a precursor to Orwell s idea of thoughtcrime, free will is not completely suppressed, and there is resistance The enemies of happiness, no less In the narrator s character, the two concepts clash Submission under authoritarian dictatorship stands against humanity s longing for freedom of choice, for genuine love, for diverse experience In the chilling end, the state has found a solution to make individuality obsolete an Operation to remove imagination from the human brain The outlook on the world therefore is bleaker than anything I have read so far not only brainwashed with propaganda and scared into submission by external enemies and fear of punishment, but biologically reduced to prehuman thinking capacity, the world has become inhuman And thus a paradise for an authoritarian godlike leader We believe in Him as soon as our imagination is no longer threatening to make us to see two sides of the story, alternatives, a plurality of choices, equally possible and justified.This scares me than anything else, for it touches on the fundamental need of human beings to conform in groups, to cruelly suppress individual longing in order to function as an unthinking mob, as witnessed over and over again in the 20th century, in One Party or One Religion states around the world On Tyranny Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century describes the unfolding of Zamyatin s dystopia with almost perfect accuracy.It also emphasises the fact that monotheistic belief is not compatible with a pluralistic, tolerant society if if is in power As it relies on a concept of itself as a saving truth, it will never be able to fully accept a pluralistic worldview The danger of losing its followers to any other lifestyle is too great The walls of the world are built to keep followers of certain dogmas political or religious in order, out of touch with freedom and choice, as well as separated from an overarching, comparative education that opens up perspectives rather than spreading populist slogans of truth.There is no happiness in paradise, is the lesson I learned from this novel If you can t choose, you are not fully human Sheep are not happy, regardless of how well the shepherd guides them They do not understand the concept of happiness as they cannot think in abstract terms Be a sheep in paradise, or a human beyond the wall That s the choice And being a human involves many different scenarios that cannot be regulated It will sometimes include pain and chaos, and certainly unhappiness, which is the only means to even grasp the idea of happiness To deal with freedom in a responsible way without hurting others, that is the challenge of democracy It is vulnerable, as godlike populists use ancient shepherd methods to gather their sheep and lock them into paradise, but it is possible to resist the urge to conform in order to feel safe Carrying out routines prescribed by authority is a soothing medicine for sheeplike nonthinkers, but it does not really make humanity safe It is an illusion like planning next week s regulated work schedule while you are sitting on a plane that is about to crash, as the narrator puts it Knowing what is going on gives you a choice But for the narrator, it is too late, a temporary new wall is already being erected around him, and his imagination is removed.There is always hope, however After all, Zamyatin thought, and created, and imagined, and wrote this masterpiece in the middle of Armageddon And it survived several waves of religious political fundamentalist rule.Recommended to all people who believe that you can learn from books than from sheep, as opposed to the wisdom of The Alchemist . Thoughts If it was utterly up to me, I d actually think about classing this as a utopia rather than a dystopia understanding that they re ultimately the same thing Living in glass houses is the most terrifying part of this novel I 330 is basically a manic pixie dream girl The commentary on the Russian Revolution and Socialism are heavy, bro Zamyatin had a FASCINATING life that very much influences this book The writing style wasn t my thing It was by no means bad, but it just wasn t my thing.On Comparing it to 1984 So, the deal is that George Orwell absolutely admits that his book was inspired by this book, and any person who has read them both will know that this is undoubtedly true Here are some of my observations We is about Humanity, and 1984 is about Politics The stakes feel higher in 1984 I might be biased I m definitely biased but Orwell improved on certain things Room 101, general feelings of unrest, the book line One of the best parts of 1984 is when Winston becomes a traitorous bastard, and we didn t see that to the same extent in this novel The best part of 1984 is the last line, and this last line was good but not as good.You should read this, srs. It s been a decade since I first read Zamyatin s masterpiece, and even though this book remains unchanged for almost a century now, the person who read it is not A decade later, I m a very different person, no longer the wide eyed undergraduate who thought she had the world all figured out Physically, I still look under twenty thanks, youthful genetics but mentally time has added a bit life experience, an overdose of cynicism, a few collisions with the rougher edges of the universe, and a few still subtle grey hairs Time has dispelled some of the youthful cocky confidence, softened a few edges, sharpened a few , and helped open my eyes to the areas of life I used to give little thought to before It managed to keep my love of philosophical discussions intact but greatly decreased the amount of wine I can have fueling those.In short, I m no longer the same person as I was a decade ago, reading Zamyatin s masterpiece for the first time.And this book for me now is very different than it was back then I can see of its unsettling depth, and it leaves me almost speechless just joking, of course, nothing in this world can make me really shut up.I remember being impressed by the dystopian society, focusing on the idea of One State, the totalitarian oppression and the parallels between it and the soon to follow societal changes in Zamyatin s motherland You know, the obvious, easy stuff, the one that gets quite old after reading a few dystopian books like Orwell s one, inspired by We , the stuff that causes exasperated sigh of Yes, I get it, totalitarian bad, individualism suits humans, oppression is evil, so what And that s right so what If that was all there was to Zamyatin s We it would have disappeared from the public eye by now, lingering perhaps only in a few dusty college classrooms.What makes We special is not dystopian society alone It s the amazing atmosphere Zamyatin creates through the pen of his protagonist, a little formerly happy cog in the wheel with a few atavistic features and an unexpected development of an incurable condition a soul The writing so amazingly reflects the mental state of the confused man so fractured and frantic and stuttering and urgent and anxious and often disjointed, laden with metaphors and unexpected emotions and full on scream of soulBecause I live now not in our rational world but in the ancient one, senseless, the world of square roots of minus oneIt s the strength of unexpected chaotic emotional outpouring and emotional breakdown from the protagonist, running headfirst into the hitherto unknown to him wall of passion and jealousy and possessiveness, with all the both lovely and frustrating humanity that followsYou re afraid of it because it s stronger than you, you hate it because you re afraid of it, you love it because you can t master it You can only love something that refuses to be masteredIt s the prominent in Russian literature motif of search for happiness and attempts to figure out the secret of this elusive happiness for all, the soul search that leads to fewer answers than it inspires questionsSo here I am in step with everyone now, and yet I m still separate from everyone I am still trembling all over from the agitation I endured, like a bridge after an ancient train has rumbled over it I am aware of myself And, of course, the only things that are aware of themselves and conscious of their individuality are irritated eyes, cut fingers, sore teeth A healthy eye, finger, tooth might as well not even be there Isn t it clear that individual consciousness is just sicknessI read this book again It left me unsettled and confused, it left me uneasy, and for all this I love it Because it does what literature is meant to do to disquiet the soul And for this I love it ORIGINAL REVIEW FROM 2012 BASED ON THE MEMORY OF FIRST READINGS OF THIS NOVEL IN 2004 2005 Zamyatin s masterfully written dystopian masterpiece predated and likely inspired the popular Western books that explored the similar themes Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty Four Written in 1920, before the Soviet Union even existed, it predicted the Stalin and Brezhnev eras with terrifying foresight Evgeniy Zamyatin did not share the fascination with the new State and the glory of the Great October Socialist RevolutionThe only means of ridding man of crime is ridding him of freedomWith his novel, Zamyatin disagrees No wonder it was banned in the Soviet Union until late 1980s since one of his characters brings up the ultimate blasphemyThere is no final revolution Revolutions are infiniteAt that time, during the birth of the new world order that emphasized the good of the State over the good of individual cogs in the machine , the beauty of uniformity of unity over individual variations, Zamyatin described the hollowness that replacing soul and love with cold reason and logic and individuals with numbers would bring In this world everything is rationalized, de individualized, regimented, and oppressively safe Even the leader, the Benefactor , is little but a slave to the StateNow I no longer live in our clear, rational world I live in the ancient nightmare world, the world of square roots of minus oneZamyatin s characters try to go against the great tide, try to resist the State As a result, at least for a short while, his protagonist gets diagnosed with a serious medical condition developing a soulBut, fittingly for a dystopia, there is no happy ending just a reader s faint hope that for some of them not all is lost I read this book in its original Russian, so I really cannot comment on the quality of translation In Russian, the writing is superb and the narrative voice is unique and fascinating exaltingly, sickeningly cheerful at the beginning and growing and confused as the story progresses I can only hope that the translations managed to capture at least some of that 5 stars. The Exhilarating Dystopian Novel That Inspired George Orwell S And Foreshadowed The Worst Excesses Of Soviet RussiaYevgeny Zamyatin S We Is A Powerfully Inventive Vision That Has Influenced Writers From George Orwell To Ayn Rand In A Glass Enclosed City Of Absolute Straight Lines, Ruled Over By The All Powerful Benefactor , The Citizens Of The Totalitarian Society Of OneState Live Out Lives Devoid Of Passion And Creativity Until D , A Mathematician Who Dreams In Numbers, Makes A Discovery He Has An Individual Soul Set In The Twenty Sixth Century AD, We Is The Classic Dystopian Novel And Was The Forerunner Of Works Such As George Orwell S And Aldous Huxley S Brave New World It Was Suppressed For Many Years In Russia And Remains A Resounding Cry For Individual Freedom, Yet Is Also A Powerful, Exciting And Vivid Work Of Science Fiction Clarence Brown S Brilliant Translation Is Based On The Corrected Text Of The Novel, First Published In Russia In After Than Sixty Years Suppression
, sometimes also seen spelled Eugene Zamiatin Russian novelist, playwright, short story writer, and essayist, whose famous anti utopia 1924, We prefigured Aldous Huxley s Brave New World 1932 , and inspired George Orwell s 1984 1949 The book was considered a malicious slander on socialism in the Soviet Union, and it was not until 1988 when Zamyatin was rehabilitated In the English speaking world We has appeared in several translations And then, just the way it was this morning in the hangar, I saw again, as though right then for the first time in my life, I saw everything the unalterably straight streets, the sparkling glass of the sidewalks, the divine parallelepipeds of the transparent dwellings, the squared harmony of our gray blue ranks And so I felt that I not generations of people, but I myself I had conquered the old God and the old life, I myself had created all this, and I m like a tower, I m afraid to move my elbow for fear of shattering the walls, the cupolas, the machines from We, trans by Clarence Brown Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin was born in the provincial town of Lebedian, some two hundred miles south of Moscow His father was an Orthodox priest and schoolmaster, and his mother musician He attended Progymnasium in Lebedian and gymnasium in Voronezh From 1902 to 1908 he studied naval engineering at St Petersburg Polytechnic Institute While still a student, he joined the Bolshevik Party In 1905 he made a study trip in the Near East Due to his revolutionary activities Zamyatin was arrested in 1905 and exiled His first short story, Odin 1908 , was drew on his experiences in prison.Zamyatin applied to Stalin for permission to emigrate in 1931 and lived in Paris until his death.
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- Yevgeny Zamyatin
- 14 November 2019 Yevgeny Zamyatin