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We (1920)

by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,5382151,007 (3.84)1 / 486
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. 291
    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. 280
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (tehran)
    tehran: Brave New World was largely inspired by Zamyatin's We.
  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
    This Perfect Day by Ira Levin (myshelves, VictoriaPL)
    myshelves: Dystopian novel.
  5. 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).
  6. 30
    Lord of the World by Robert Hugh Benson (hippietrail)
    hippietrail: an even earlier dystopia novel from 1908
  7. 00
    Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin (2810michael)
  8. 00
    Kallocain by Karin Boye (Oct326, catherinedarley)
  9. 00
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (sturlington)
  10. 214
    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 (14)
Walls (3)
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 Fans of Russian authors: We by Zamiatin13 unread / 13DuneSherban, August 2011

» See also 486 mentions

English (201)  Spanish (3)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All languages (211)
Showing 1-5 of 201 (next | show all)
I know this is an important book, and it was a major influence on later dystopias like 1984 and Brave New World. But it wasn’t a very enjoyable or even very edifying book to read (or, more properly, listen to). It’s told as a series of first-person journal entries of D-503, who lives in the OneState, in many ways similar to the aforementioned better-known dystopias. D-503’s prose is laden with difficult-to-follow metaphors, to the extent that I sometimes didn’t know if he was dreaming, hallucinating, or just using incomprehensible metaphors to convey what he himself had trouble comprehending. The ending was impactful, but it was a long haul to get there. As a warning to future readers, this edition had a spoiler-y preface by Margaret Atwood—I wish I’d saved it for after I finished reading. Narrator Toby Jones did a good job, but it didn’t salvage the difficult text. ( )
  Charon07 | May 21, 2024 |
Poetry about math in a dystopian future. ( )
  trrpatton | Mar 20, 2024 |
This is my second read of this early modern dystopian classic, written in the early years of the new Soviet Union, but almost immediately banned, then smuggled out and published in the West in 1924 - so we are now marking the centenary of its free publication. The writing style is quite brutalist - ironically, like Stalinist architecture - with the characters having serial numbers not names, and being described as looking like the letters of the alphabet in their serial numbers. The writing is also minimalist, with characters described in terms of angles and lines and simple colours - a lot of white and yellow, with true beauty being found only in the action of machines and the pure logic and simplicity of mathematical operations ("only the four rules of arithmetic are steadfast and eternal. And it is only the code of morals that resides within these four rules that is great, steadfast, and eternal").

The philosophy of the One State and its Benefactor is that happiness can only be achieved by absolute unanimity as though each individual is a cell of one body. The main character D 503 is chief builder of a rocket called the Integral, through which the Benefactor aims to spread his version of happiness to other planets, as the newspaper says: "YOU ARE CONFRONTING UNKNOWN CREATURES ON ALIEN PLANETS, WHO MAY STILL BE LIVING IN THE SAVAGE STATE OF FREEDOM, AND SUBJUGATING THEM TO THE BENEFICIAL YOKE OF REASON. IF THEY WON’T UNDERSTAND THAT WE BRING THEM MATHEMATICALLY INFALLIBLE HAPPINESS, IT WILL BE OUR DUTY TO FORCE THEM TO BE HAPPY. BUT BEFORE RESORTING TO ARMS, WE WILL EMPLOY THE WORD".

Eventually, the One State decides the only way to true uniform "happiness" is through a medical operation to excise the imagination from human brains, which seems to actually lead to the creation of machine conglomerations of people - though these chapters are very unclear and I found myself rather confused at what was going on for a sizable chunk of the book, which is why, despite its powerful overall message about the dangers of mindless collectivism, I don't think it is anywhere near as effective as a dystopian novel as is Orwell's 1984. ( )
  john257hopper | Feb 29, 2024 |
I don't read a lot of science fiction, but this one is a classic. Like Doctor Zhivago it was banned in Russia, smuggled out, and published in Europe.

Zamyatin's book is a dystopian satire of life in Russia after the revolution. It is set 600 years in the future, in the land of One State, where the citizens are happy because they have no freedom. Where there is no freedom there is no crime. People live and work in glass buildings. There is no envy because everyone is equal, a cell in the collective organism of the One State.

The narrator is D-503, a mathematician and the builder of the Integral. His life is mathematically predictable, and therefore happy, until he meets I-303, falls in love and discovers the remnants of a soul. Can they escape the repression of the One state?

Zamyatin's book was the precursor of Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four. It was first published in 1921, in the early years of the revolution. It is well worth reading, and not just because it is the first satire on totalitarianism. Zamyatin has a sense of humour and a lightness of touch. Apparently he had synaesthesia, so the book is swamped in colour, odour and texture. He eliminates unnecessary words by recruiting old words for new functions. When you read that a functionary's eyes "javelined", you know just what Zamyatin means.

Highly recommended 4.5* ( )
  pamelad | Feb 21, 2024 |
A painful abstract and obtuse read. I really could not at all say what happened. Zamyatin stopped a lot of sentences short. Maybe it is some sort of love betrayal story for the One-State. Let me know if you figure it out. ( )
  MXMLLN | Jan 12, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 201 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (211 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zamyatin, YevgenyAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aplin, HughTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Atwood, MargaretNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brealey, LouiseNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brown, ClarenceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chesterman, AdrianCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Chwast, SeymourCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Drohla, GiselaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
香男里, 川端Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
豊樹, 小笠原Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gessen, MashaForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ginsburg, MirraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glenny, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guerney, Bernard GuilbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, TobyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Le Guin, Ursula K.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lo Gatto, EttoreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lodge, KirstenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mills, RussellCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Randall, NatashaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reschke, ThomasÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Russell, KitIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Self, WillIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Siegel, HaroldCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sillitoe, AlanForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sterling, BruceForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zilboorg, GregoryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
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.
Quotations
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

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Em suas páginas, o autor imaginou um governo totalitário chamado Estado Único que, supostamente pelo bem da sociedade, privou a população de direitos fundamentais como o livre-arbítrio, a individualidade, a imaginação, a liberdade de expressão e o direito à própria vida. Um mundo completamente mecanizado e lógico, onde as pessoas não possuem nomes, mas sim números, e o Estado dita os horários de trabalho, de lazer, de refeições e até de sexo.
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