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Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Clarence Brown Translator, Introduction. The exhilarating dystopian novel that inspired George Orwell’s and 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.

In a glass-enclosed city of absolute straight lines, ruled over by the all-powerful ‘Benefactor’, the citizens of the totalitarian society o The exhilarating dystopian novel that inspired George Orwell’s and 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.

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: It was suppressed for many years in Russia and remains a resounding cry for individual freedom, yet is also a powerful, zamjtin 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 more than sixty years’ suppression.


We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Published by Penguin Classics first published DISOR To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Weplease sign up. Is it just me or did the unfinished sentences in the dialogue and disjointed nature of the prose absolutely diminish how great this book could have been?

I know it’s a classic, but I wonder if the original fluidity and essence of the story could have been lost in translation Sal The book is written in jevgenijj dry manner on purpose. Our narrator is a mathematician, focused on logic, on numbers, on empirical data.

The entire world of …more The book is written in a dry manner on purpose. The entire world of a “soul,” of feeling, of disregard for the State There’s nothing empirical about what he’s experiencing, and he’s not much of a poet.

Look zamjatun the way he loses his mind after having his first dream. The disjointed, unfinished thoughts are a brilliant way azmjatin describing experiences a narrator has mmy idea how to describe.

My Zamjatin Jevgenij Ivanovič, 1927

There is no empirical data for him to utilize in his sentences, and he’s far from the world of poetics or free description. Aside from all of his logic, this is an adult who has only known jevgsnij self-censored world, and in his disrupted sentences you see how ingrained his sense of society is. It’s the sort of thing one would do without fully realizing it.


He tries to battle through, but even when he might have the right words, his indoctrination breaks his line of rational thought. Is it as good as I think it is?

William Frost At least as good. Lists with This Book. George Orwell, you poser. I heard that you had read this before writing But I didn’t expect Zamyatin’s writing to be so superior to yours. It is so much more zamjattin than your sterile work. D is so much the better character than Winston. And you rob I of her power and respect by demoting Julia to the role of a sexual object that stirs Winston to action.

Yes, D is stirred to action by I, but she’s the political activist, the intellige George Orwell, you poser. Yes, D is stirred to action by I, but she’s the political activist, the intelligent one in this revolution. Besides, Zamyatin had the zamjayin to apply a letter and a name zamjarin his characters, while your very English “Winston” makes your work smack of parochialism and, frankly, condescension.

D is the universal toadie and I the universal revolutionary. Were you trying to evoke Churchill? Regardless of this, Zamyatin’s prose is far better than yours.

It never seems hackneyed, and rarely pedantic, though I suppose any novel that portrays zajatin against totalitarianism has to be somewhat pedantic. But because Zamyatin actually lived under a totalitarian state – TWO, actually! You see, despite his impersonal name, D is so much more human than Winston. Yes, Winston is a revolutionary like D, but when I read him in comparison with the protagonist of WeWinston comes off as disingenuous.

D is the real deal, because Zamyatin was the real deal.

The man was exiled by both the Tsar and the Communists for his free-thinking while you were worried about threats from within your country that never materialized.

Furthermore, Zamyatin’s prose is beautiful. Yes, you have the occasional turn of phrase that came out well, iconic, even, but Zamyatin’s writing is beautiful throughout, even in its stochasticity. It’s the writing of a poet who actually zamjattin under totalitarianism, not a vested academic who jrvgenij a potential threat.

You were fighting despotism, Zamyatin was living with it. You surmised, he knew. And for these reasons, Zamjaitn am doing the unprecedented for me, at least: I am taking one of your stars and giving it to Zamyatin. Because, while his work isn’t perfect, one must give credit where credit is due.

Censorship, jeggenij with the the Cold War, gave you your day in the sun of America’s high school zqmjatin, when, all along, those kids, myself included, should have been reading Zamyatin’s work.

Maybe you’re not zamhatin to blame. Maybe Western society has to shoulder some of the guilt here. View all 43 comments. Fans of classic dystopias.

It’s been a decade since I first read Zamyatin’s masterpiece, and even though this zamjatib 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!

Time has dispelled some of the youthful cocky confidence, softened a few edges, sharpened a few more, 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 more 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 Zajjatin State, the totalitarian oppression and the parallels between it and the soon-to-follow societal changes in Zamyatin’s motherland. If that was zzmjatin 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 jevvenij 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 soul. You can only love something that refuses zamjatih be mastered. I am still trembling all over from the agitation I endured, like a bridge after an ancient train has rumbled over it.

My (Jevgenij Zamjatin) | knihy | Pinterest | Reading, Books and Sci fi

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 sickness? 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. 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 inbefore 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 Revolution. No wonder it was banned in the Soviet Union until late s – since one of his characters brings up the ultimate blasphemy: In this world everything is rationalized, de-individualized, regimented, and oppressively safe.

Even the leader, the “Benefactor”, is little but a slave to the State. As a result, at least for a short while, his protagonist gets diagnosed with a serious medical condition – developing a soul. But, fittingly for a dystopia, there is no happy ending – just a reader’s faint hope that for some of them not all is lost. In Russian, the writing is superb and the narrative voice is unique and fascinating – exaltingly, sickeningly cheerful at the beginning and growing more and more confused as the story progresses.

I can only hope that the translations managed to capture at least some of that.