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We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

We (1920)

by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,4581651,030 (3.87)1 / 414
Set in the twenty-sixth century A.D., Yevgeny Zamyatin's masterpiece describes life under the regimented totalitarian society of OneState, ruled over by the all-powerful "Benefactor." Recognized as the inspiration for George Orwell's 1984, We is the archetype of the modern dystopia, or anti-Utopia: a great prose poem detailing the fate that might befall us all if we surrender our individual selves to some collective dream of technology and fail in the vigilance that is the price of freedom. Clarence Brown's brilliant translation is based on the corrected text of the novel, first published in Russia in 1988 after more than sixty years' suppression.… (more)
  1. 250
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (tehran)
    tehran: Brave New World was largely inspired by Zamyatin's We.
  2. 261
    1984 by George Orwell (soylentgreen23, roby72, timoroso, MEStaton, 2810michael)
    timoroso: Zamyatin's "We" was not just a precursor of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" but the work Orwell took as a model for his own book.
  3. 60
    Red Star: The First Bolshevik Utopia by Alexander Bogdanov (leigonj)
    leigonj: As We (1920) is anti-communist Russian science fiction, Red Star (1908) is pro-communist Russian science fiction. They are equally superb.
  4. 30
    Aelita by Alexei Tolstoy (DuneSherban)
    DuneSherban: While thematically distinct from We, Aelita shares its problematic view of early Soviet society, and can also be read as a discourse on totalitarian society, revolution and Bolshevism (published originally in 1923).
  5. 30
    Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson (hippietrail)
    hippietrail: an even earlier dystopia novel from 1908
  6. 20
    This Perfect Day by Ira Levin (myshelves, VictoriaPL)
    myshelves: Dystopian novel.
  7. 00
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (sturlington)
  8. 00
    Kallocain by Karin Boye (Oct326, catherinedarley)
  9. 00
    Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin (2810michael)
  10. 213
    Anthem by Ayn Rand (myshelves)
    myshelves: Dystopian novel. Wikipedia says: "Ayn Rand's Anthem (1938) has several major similarities to We, although it is stylistically and thematically different."
1920s (26)
Walls (3)

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English (157)  Spanish (2)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (165)
Showing 1-5 of 157 (next | show all)
I think the main significance of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin is the fact that it was published before either Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four and obviously influenced the authors of both those books. In this imagined world of the 26th century it is held that happiness and freedom are incompatible. This is a future where life is dictated by math, logic and rules. Imagination, emotion and dreams are frowned upon.

Under constant surveillance, the people’s lives are tightly controlled. There is no individuality allowed. They exercise by marching to the state’s anthem, they live in glass houses where they can be observed at all times. There is no marriage and children are created in a lab and raised by the state. Sex is rationed and one can only draw the curtains in their home while engaging in this activity. While I found this all very interesting, I did not connect with the main character or become particularly engaged by the story.

Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote this dystopian novel during a time of change in Russia, he had just come through a revolution and a new system was taking control. He, personally had run afoul of both the white Russians and later, the Communists. We takes a hard look at totalitarian government and the flaws of forcing people into a rigid way of living. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | May 26, 2020 |
I read this We in college and really liked it. I just read it now, and though I liked it, I didn't *really* like it.
The novel is interesting and written in interesting format, like a diary but to an audience other than the writer. The novel is written as first person to an audience in the diarist's future, yet we the reader are in the character's long past. Because it is written for an audience of a different time and place, the diarist explains his culture which is one of extreme rational structure.
The novel explores what it means to be a utopia versus a dystopian society. Freedom, individuality, uniformity, an overly regulated society. These aren't particularly novel themes now, but I think they were more so when this novel was written, this may be among the first.
I liked how the author uses the title "We" in different ways throughout the novel to mean and feel different things.

So why not really like it?

The book rides, it seems, on the premise of the diarist falling in love. But I didn't get it, from the beginning. Certainly I never felt that his feelings were reciprocated.
I don't understand why he follows her or goes to her. Then later it seems likely that the diarist is given a drug and becomes addicted. This made more sense to me- that he associates her with his drug. This really irked me that I didn't see love, I saw addiction, which is another type of loss of freedom. I get the idea of love makes you do irrational things and that this goes against the 'rational'. I just didn't feel love blooming; I only saw/felt the effects of doing anything to be with her. Maybe that's why I liked this book more as a youth: just needing someone like that made more sense to me then.
Also there seems in the book to be a conflation of love and soul. Could the diarist have acquired a soul without falling in love? Perhaps some could, but perhaps you can't fall in love without a soul.

Other reasons for the drop in liking is that it dragged at times and there were times that the descriptions were such that I just didn't understand what had happened or what was happening. ( )
1 vote kparr | May 11, 2020 |
A millennia ago One State conquered the world, now they have designs on the rest of the Universe. They are building a spaceship called Integral and the chief engineer, D-503, is writing a journal that he is intending on taking with him on its maiden journey. Even in his privileged position he has to live in a glass apartment so he is constantly visible to the Bureau of Guardians, better known as One State’s secret police. He only has a moment of privacy when his state appointed lover, O-90, is permitted to visit him on certain nights. O-90 has other lovers, including the best friend of D-503, R-13 who performs as a One State sanctioned poet at public executions.

Then one day, the safe predictable world that D-503 has known, changes in ways that he could never have conceived, and nothing can ever be the same again.

I couldn’t quite get on with this for a few reasons. The plot didn’t really move that fast, even though it is a short tome, and the characters feel as flat and two dimensional as the glass walls that they are continually viewed through. I can see where Orwell and Huxley got their inspiration from though as this is brutally chilling at times with the all-pervasive state intrusion and levels of control that are frankly terrifying. Not bad, but for me didn’t have that extra something that 1984 has. 2.5 stars ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
There's lots good about this book:
- it's vaguely comical
- easy to read, a few somewhat likeable characters
- it's (dis)utopia is believable
- the main character's "spiritual awakening" (let's say) is very well done, so familiar (to me at least)
- the Soviets must have HATED it: an infinity of revolutions!? materialist perfection as a distopia?! Whoa, off to the gulag with YOU.

But its kinda middle of the road, nothing extreme. As Russian sci-fi I was expecting something deep and meaningful (Roadside Picnic, Fiasco, Solaris, Bugalov) but there's little depth here.

The Russian sci-fi equivalent of a well-done, American detective story: an OK way to spend a few reading hours. ( )
  GirlMeetsTractor | Mar 22, 2020 |
D-503 is an engineer in OneState, working on a rocket ship. He has an arrangement with O-90 and things are pretty good, governed by the great timetable that makes sure that everything in OneState runs smoothly. But D is shaken out of his dependable routine when he meets I-330, a musician who openly flaunts a lot of OneState’s uniformity. D finds himself drawn to her, and I quickly turns his life upside-down.

We is probably one of the earliest dystopian novels, especially as we understand dystopias today. As such, it’s of course hugely significant – but it’s not just for that that it’s worth reading: it’s an excellently written book that is still pretty relatable even almost 100 years after it was written.

Read more on my blog: https://kalafudra.com/2020/01/16/we-yevgeny-zamyatin/ ( )
  kalafudra | Feb 14, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 157 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (147 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zamyatin, YevgenyAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aplin, HughTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brown, ClarenceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chesterman, AdrianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drohla, GiselaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ginsburg, MirraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glenny, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guerney, Bernard GuilbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Le Guin, Ursula K.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lo Gatto, EttoreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mills, RussellCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Randall, NatashaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reschke, ThomasÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Russell, KitIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siegel, HaroldCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sillitoe, AlanForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zilboorg, GregoryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed


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I am merely copying out here, word for word, what was printed today in the State Gazette: In 120 days from now the building of the INTEGRAL will be finished.
The effect of that woman on me was as unpleasant as a displaced irrational number that has accidentally crept into an equation.
There is no final revolution.  Revolutions are infinite.
I do not want anyone to want for me--I want to want for myself.
I shall attempt nothing more than to note down what I see, what I think - or, to be more exact, what we think (that's right: we, and let this WE be the title of these records). But this, surely, will be a derivative of our life, of the mathematically perfect life of OneState, and if that is so, then won't this be, of its own accord, whatever I may wish, an epic?
A human being is like a novel: until the last page you don't know how it will end. Or it wouldn't be worth reading...."
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The first dystopia ever, it started asking uncomfortable questions about individuals, collectives, revolutions, progress — and the collectives’ rights to individuals’ souls in the name of revolutions and progress.
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