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Yevgheniy Zamyatin WE: The New Translation for the XXI Century

Yevgheniy Zamyatin WE: The New Translation for the XXI Century

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3.94

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Published by ENC Press
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.
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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Publish date: Jan 1, 2003
Added to Scribd: May 19, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reservedISBN:9780972832137
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05/04/2010

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stefaniegeeks reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I read this in undergrad and truly enjoyed it. I also love Brave New World which is quite similar.  
knowledgelost reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote his seminal dystopian novel We (1921) based on his personal experiences during the two Russian revolutions (1905 and 1917) and the first World War. The book ended influencing dystopian authors like Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. This book not only influenced the dystopian genre but could also be the influence towards the post-apocalyptic genre as this was set in a world where all was wiped out but “0.2% of the earth's population”. The book is set in ‘One State’ which has been organised to be a workers' paradise; everything has to work like clockwork and everything is based on logic and mathematics. This society is heavily surveillanced, has martial law and is heavily censored; a totalitarian world.

The protagonist, D-503, is an engineer who begins writing a journal (much like in 1984) to document Integral, the spaceship being built to invade other planets. D-503 is under constant surveillance by the Bureau of Guardians (the secret police) as is everyone else. He is assigned a lover O-90, but ends up having an uncontrollable attraction to I-330. This leads to nightmares and furthermore into what could be considered a mental illness. I-330 reveals to D-503 a world that was previously unknown to him. Will he hang onto hope or will reason get the better of him?

We was an impressive novel; not only with the themes that it explores but also with the technology and the simple fact that it was years and years ahead of its time. While some say We was released in 1920 and others 1921, there is no denying that, because of the subject matter, this was an impressive piece of literature. If it wasn’t for this book we may never of been able to enjoy Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932), George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) or even Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano (1952). By today’s standards this book would be overlooked but something innovative and so complex to be written so long ago makes this worth a read.
amaraduende reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I am reading this book because Ursula K LeGuin, in one of her essays, mentioned its main character as one of the most memorable in all of her reading.

It's an ancestor of 1984 and Brave New World. As such, it's an interesting study in society and, coming from a Russian and written in 1920-1, was considered thoroughly blasphemous. It's a little heavy handed sometimes, but maybe all books of this type are... also, no one EVER finishes their sentences in this book. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what the heck anybody is talking about. Definitely not the easiest read. But I am enjoying it.
tronella_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
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?
trueneutral reviewed this
Rated 3/5
This is one of the earliest dystopian novels and, while I didn't really like it all that much (because of the writing style), I don't regret reading it. It's one of the sources of inspiration for Orwell's 1984 and the story is very similar. I loved 1984, but We is written in a completely different style, read somewhere that it is described as a prose poem. It's written as the diary of one D-503 (they get numbers in the OneState) that goes through a lot of psychological turmoil throughout the book becoming more and more confused and delirious after meeting the rebel woman I-330. He starts having a "soul" and suffers from "imagination", things that have been banished in the OneState - which is built on the premise that humanity needs to be happy and it can only achieve that through the lack of freedom and by living and thinking only according to rigorous mathematical concepts.
souloftherose reviewed this
Rated 4/5
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin is an early dystopian novel, possibly one of the earliest and certainly an inspiration for George Orwell's 1984. In fact, I was surprised how closely the plot of 1984 follows the plot of We.D-503 is our narrator and the head of the great Integral project of OneState. In OneState people are given numbers rather than names and every hour of the day has an allocated activity. As a background to D-503's narration, the Integral is being developed, something like a spaceship or rocket that will be able to fly to other planets so that the inhabitants of those planets can also share in the beauty that is OneState. OneState, it seems, has decided that it is best for humanity to have happiness rather than freedom. In fact, it believes that happiness lies in having no freedom. D-503 starts off as an enthusiastic supporter of OneState but when he meets and becomes enthralled by the rebellious female I-330, he becomes more and more confused about what he believes. The novel is described as a prose poem and I have to confess that I felt like I struggled with the prose at times. I read the 1993 translation by Clarence Brown, published by Penguin Classics but I found a couple of reviews that preferred the 2006 translation by Natasha Randall so this may partly have been due to the translation I was reading. I think there is probably a lot more to this short novel than I picked up on from my slightly rushed first read. Zamyatin uses a lot of mathematical imagery that I would like to think about more deeply on a reread. I think 1984 would probably get my vote for the better book but We is certainly worth reading if you want to understand the background to Orwell's book."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?"
citizenjoyce reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Yevgeny Zamyatin was a very brave man. He completed We in 1921, a year before Stalin was appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee. Even then, only 4 years after the revolution, Zamyatin realized that the communist party's original goal of freeing and supporting people was devolving into crushing the individual spirit. To dramatize the fearsome power of this new state Zamyatin wrote about a society many years in the future when, after a 200 years war in which all but 0.2% of the world's population has been lost and a One State government has been installed. The city, including people's apartments, is made of glass so everyone can be monitored at all times. People are no longer mere humans, they are referred to as numbers, and they live by a strict time schedule. Everyone does everything at the same time: arises, eats, walks, works, has sex. The premise of the state is that people can have freedom and unhappiness or happiness without freedom. They, with the guidance of their leader The Benefactor, have chosen happiness. As with all ideological movements that devolve into religions, human nature is abhorred as animalistic. People are to rise above their natures to become precise, logical machines. The main character, D-503, throughout the book sings the praises of the One State and bemoans the fact that his hairy hands are evidence of his animal nature. He says that humans are governed by love and hunger - and he encounters both. While the Benefactor is moving to complete human evolution to machines by promoting an operation that removes the imagination, D-503's imagination expands, his heart expands, and he begins to see cracks in his perfect society. I've read that George Orwell used ideas from We in writing 1984. Zamyatin was very brave to expound them in the first place.
fothpaul reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I thought that this was a very good book. It wasn't as mind blowing as some others I've read but I enojyed the story very much. I was intrigued by the fact that it is almost 100 years since it was first published but it doesn't seem particularly out of date these days.I always like a good rebellion and I enjoyed the main character being sucked into one not through his own volition. There were some very interesting concepts in the book as well. I very much enjoyed the walled city physically seprated from the rest of the world and the develpoment of removing the citizens imaginations. There were many elements of other books I've read in this, namely 1984 and Brave New World which seemed to have developed some similar themes as found in this book. The style of the book, being written down by one individual was a good one, although I found that this made it difficult for me to follow in some places, as I struggled to remember who had said what and to whom. Overall though I'm glad I read this one and woould look out for any more works from this author.
delta351 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I read the Myrra Ginzberg translation, and I wish that I had been able to read it in the original Russian. I thought the translation was poor, and did not do justice to the novel. I rarely give up on a book, but I thought about it a couple of times while reading We. The concept was good, with the preposition? of a Two Hundred Year War that wiped out all but .2% of the earth’s population. I read in another review that the story takes place in the 2600’s. I saw some obvious parallels to ‘1984’ and some other dystopian novels. I particularly like the Benefactor’s speech at the end of the book, regarding that society and Christian doctrine. I think the story could have been greatly enhanced with a reader’s guide or a Sparknotes type document. I did a short search on the Internet and was not able to find one. I found it difficult to track the characters in the story, and most were rather flat and lacking in detail. I think it would come across much better as a movie, or with a better translation. Overall I am glad I finished the story. I think it is valuable as a precursor to later dystopian books.
wendyrey reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Excelent piece of early science fiction, without the sexism that permeates much of the genre.Please read this.

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