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We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

We (original 1920; edition 1983)

by Yevgeny Zamyatin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,3201631,038 (3.87)1 / 406
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)
Authors:Yevgeny Zamyatin
Info:Harper Voyager (1983), Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Ex Libris David G. Nye

Work details

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (Author) (1920)

  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 (154)  Spanish (2)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (162)
Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
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 |
A Book With A One-Word Title

Those who have read 1984 will find Yevgeny Zamyatin's dystopian novel We familiar, although it is actually precedes it. Like 1984, it takes place in a totalitarian regime, the One State, that suppresses individuality, brutally if necessary, in favor of an ordered life controlled by scientific dictates. People no longer have names; they have alpha-numeric representations and are known as numbers. Life in the One State has been reduced to a schedule all numbers follow, the Table of Hours, which determines the proper time for all activity: eating, sleeping, sex - even the two hours of free time required due to an inability to solve the problem of happiness. The One State is headed by a Big Brother-like Benefactor, an all-powerful man who personally executes non-conformists.

D-503, the narrator, is the lead builder of the Integral, a rocket ship destined for other inhabited planets whose populations lag behind the One State in their evolution toward reasoned life. He sets out to document what he sees and thinks leading up to the launch as an ode to the One State, but ends up documenting the challenges all totalitarian states face in subordinating individual will to the collective good. At its core, his journal is an unwitting jeremiad against uniformity, against suppression of man's natural desires and needs.

As with other science fiction I've read (see my review of Ender's Game, for example), We is a book more concerned with philosophical ideas than character development and language. While there are brilliant expositions on human nature, such as the reduction of happiness to the formula bliss divided by envy, and unfreedom being man's natural desire, these are overshadowed by the writing style. D-503 continually breaks off mid-thought, leaving the reader to interpret, or more often anticipate, the meaning of his ellipses. His descriptions of action are often confusing and it's unclear whether he is describing actual or imaginary events. There are also too many coincidental occurrences where he encounters, in a city of millions, the exact character needed to advance the plot, whether that is O-90, the woman who loves him, I-330, his femme fatale, or several others who represent competing sides in the One State's battle for control.

We is not necessarily a complex story, although it contains multiple Biblical references that can be outside mainstream knowledge. There is also a shadow organization, MEPHI, which I associated with Mephistopheles, the Devil's advocate in Faust (although this may just be my mistaken interpretation). I think you should read any introductory material first (something I usually forgo to avoid spoilers or being prejudiced by a summary of the story). My copy had an excellent introduction that focused on Zamyatin's experiences in post-Revolution Russia, illuminating the factors which influenced the novel. ( )
1 vote skavlanj | Jan 26, 2020 |
A pellucid dystopia -I first read this book as a kid, and it stayed with me. Suppressed for six decades, and for good reason. Love the cover!
  kencf0618 | Jun 25, 2019 |
Yay, dystopian scifi! I borrowed this from Adam. Interesting to read a first-person view of a dystopia where the narrator seems to genuinely believe it's a dystopia. I liked this a lot, especially the last few chapters where the narrator starts to realise how badly he's misjudged I-330. On the other hand, I wish he didn't constantly mention the fact that his one friend had "African teeth" literally every time he showed up. What does that even mean?
( )
  tronella | Jun 22, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 154 (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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Penguin Australia

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