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We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

We (original 1924; edition 1993)

by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Clarence Brown (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,078135884 (3.9)1 / 326
Authors:Yevgeny Zamyatin
Other authors:Clarence Brown (Introduction)
Info:Penguin Twentieth Century Classics (1993), Paperback, 225 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:dystopia, russian, politics

Work details

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1924)

  1. 260
    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.
  2. 230
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (tehran)
    tehran: Brave New World was largely inspired by Zamyatin's We.
  3. 50
    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. 20
    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. 20
    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
    Kallocain by Karin Boye (Oct326, catherinedarley)
  8. 00
    Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin (2810michael)
  9. 212
    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."

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English (130)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Hungarian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (135)
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
Introduction: Zamyatin and the Rooster
Notes to Introduction
Suggestions for Further Reading


Translator's Notes ( )
  E.P.G | May 30, 2016 |
Set about a thousand years from the present, We shows readers a bleak vision of the future. Society is now controlled by a single entity, One State, and people, now referred to as "ciphers", live in mind-numbing conformity for the sake of efficiency.Everyone has the same hair color, wears the same drab "unif", and chews his or her food exactly fifty times before swallowing, in accordance with One State's mastication rules. Individuality is a thing of the past. Even personal names have been replaced by state-issued letter-and-number combinations.

The narrative is in the form of a secret diary written by a mathematician named D-503, the designer of One State's first spaceship. He falls in love with a mysterious woman called I-330, and through her he discovers the possibilities of life beyond One State's protective glass dome and suffocating Table of Hours. Can D-503 help I-330's rebel group destroy One State, or will he end up crushed by the state's fearsome security apparatus?

I know it's a classic of science fiction and the forerunner of dystopian novels such as 1984 and Brave New World, but I have to admit I had a hard time getting through We as translated by Natasha Randall. The plot is hard to follow, and there are a lot of ellipses, half-finished sentences, and startling geometric and color-based imagery. It took a lot longer to read than I expected given its mere 200-page length. At times D-503 came across as a contemporary man in the midst of a protracted nervous breakdown rather than as a man of the future living under a totalitarian regime. I can recommend this book as a slice of literary history, but not as a particularly compelling read. ( )
  akblanchard | Feb 13, 2016 |
I really wish I'd had the opportunity to read this book back at the age of 12 or 13 or so, when I discovered 1984 and Brave New World. I enjoyed reading this book now - but I would have been passionate about it then.

Either way, this ranks up there with the best of the classic dystopian novels. It's an incisive indictment of totalitarian states, filled with black humor and disturbing tragedy. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
We is a dystopian novel that had a significant influence on later dystopian authors like Orwell and Huxley. It was also banned in Russia for its criticisms of communism, and the author ended up immigrating to France after the book was published elsewhere in Europe.

In some future society, complete happiness is linked with unfreedom, or the freedom from choice. People are identified by their numbers, and every hour of the day is strictly scheduled. The book is the diary of a male number, D-503. It begins as a glorification of the society he lives in, but veers away from that as he meets and falls in love with I-330, a revolutionary who is working against the United State. He experiences emotions he has never felt before and begins to question what true happiness is.

In a lot of ways, this book read very much like Brave New World and 1984. All three books are good, but I kind of feel like if you've read one, then you've read them all. Also, the introduction raved about the brilliant language of the original, and I think my translation (by Gregory Zilboorg) fell short of that. I'm left wondering whether my lukewarm feelings about We are a result of the novel itself or a mediocre translation. In other words, meh. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
We Yevgeny Zamyatin
3 Stars

Normally I love dystopian fiction but for me this was too disjointed (also have just finished Cloud Atlas which I loved)

We is essentially the diary of mathematician D-503 who is working onto interplanetary space ship so that Earth can take the message of mathematical happiness and unfreedom to other planets.

We refers to the fact that on the Earth of the future concepts such as I, Me and Mine no longer exist they are ancient history, every one works for the good of the United State and everyone is happy with his or her role.

I am not sure if the disjointedness of the story comes from the fact it is a translation or from the fact that its a diary and would only really contain someones thoughts which are often disjointed.

I was also disappointed by the ending which perhaps was inevitable. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (53 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zamyatin, Yevgenyprimary 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
Lo Gatto, EttoreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mills, RussellCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Randall, NatashaTranslatorsecondary 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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Book description
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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140185852, Paperback)

A seminal work of dystopian fiction that foreshadowed the worst excesses of Soviet Russia, Yevgeny Zamyatin's "We" is a powerfully inventive vision that has influenced writers from George Orwell to Ayn Rand. This "Penguin Classics" edition is translated from the Russian with an introduction by Clarence Brown. 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-503, 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 "1984" 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 1988 after more than sixty years' suppression. Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937) was a naval engineer by profession and writer by vocation, who made himself an enemy of the Tsarist government by being a Bolshevik, and an enemy of the Soviet government by insisting that human beings have absolute creative freedom. He wrote short stories, plays and essays, but his masterpiece is "We", written in 1920-21 and soon thereafter translated into most of the languages of the world. It first appeared in Russia only in 1988. If you enjoyed "We", you might like George Orwell's "1984", also available in "Penguin Classics". "The best single work of science fiction yet written". (Ursula K. LeGuin, author of "The Left Hand of Darkness"). "It is in effect a study of the Machine, the genie that man has thoughtlessly let out of its bottle and cannot put back again". (George Orwell, author of "1984").

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:28 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"Written in 1921, We is set in the One State, where all live for the collective good and individual freedom does not exist. The novel takes the form of the diary of mathematician D-503, who, to his shock, experiences the most disruptive emotion imaginable: love. At once satirical and sobering - and now available in a powerful new translation - We is both a rediscovered classic and a work of tremendous relevance to our own times."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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