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Una novela "antiutópica", similar a 1984 y Un mundo feliz. Aqui hallamos una sociedad donde, aparentemente, reina la felicidad, bajo la ferrea tutela de un estado unico, regido por una sola persona, al que todos deben obediencia ciega. Han desaparecido los nombres de las personas: son solo numeros, y estos numeros se visten igual y tienen una vida rigurosamente controlada. En Nosotros, el proyecto utopico se ha desarrollado, pero el resultado es terrible y cruel.

Published: LD Books - Lectorum on
ISBN: 9781939048653
List price: $6.99
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I was hooked to this book by the end of the first chapter. It follows D-503, mathematician, as he keeps a journal destined to be sent up in a spacecraft full of propaganda concerning the greatness of One State. As with many novels depicting 'perfect societies' before and after it, the story revolves around realizing the importance of personal liberties and holding onto a sense of self, even when circumstances try to force the abandonment of these things in exchange for safety and predictability. This book caught my attention more than some other dystopian novels because of the way it was told. I loved the point of view and how protagonist D-503 struggles to keep his known reality in order as it continuously and ever more drastically falls apart. I related to this person, which may say some crazy things about me, but I can't help it. Have you ever thought you had something figured out, or thought something was going well, and then watched it crash and burn and stood in the wreckage and thought to yourself, "where did it all go wrong...?" Then you should read this book.more
The cover of my copy of this book claims to be the most influential science fiction novel of the 20th century. I'm not convinced that's the case, unless it influenced Orwell and Huxley and Bradbury and claims vicarious influence through them, because let's face it: most people haven't even heard of this book. It is indeed a dystopia, where people have willingly sacrificed their freedom and individuality in the name of happiness. Everyone has a letter and number instead of a name. Everyone's actions are completely synchronized, down to each bite of food. All walls are transparent except during sex, which is restricted to certain hours of the day and only with a pre-approved coupon from your partner. When our protagonist, D503, meets the alluringly subversive I330, his world is turned upside-down. Unfortunately, the writing is kind of terrible. A good portion of the sentences end in ellipses, leading me to wonder if anybody in this world is capable of finishing a sentence. It leaves a whole bunch of stuff to inference. Maybe I'm just dense, but I had a lot of trouble figuring out what was going on. And then, after all that confusion, the ending still manages to be trite and predictable. There's a reason why 1984 and Brave New World are more famous than this one: their plots and philosophies, at least, are possible to follow. If you read only one dystopian novel this year, choose something else.more
I read this in undergrad and truly enjoyed it. I also love Brave New World which is quite similar.  more
D-503 lives in a perfect world, the One State, where everyone lives for the whole collective and there is no individual freedom. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin is a record of the diary of D-503, a mathematician who is living and working in this apparent Utopia. However the cracks appear and it becomes clear that this is really a Dystopia. Dystopia is utopia's polarized mirror image. While using many of the same concepts as utopia—for example, social stability created by authoritarian regimentation—dystopia presents these ideas pessimistically. Dystopia angrily challenges utopia's fundamental assumption of human perfectibility, arguing that humanity's inherent flaws negate the possibility of constructing perfect societies, except for those that are perfectly hellish. Fictional dystopias like the one in We present grim, oppressive societies.Zamyatin skillfully has his protagonist slowly discover the true nature of his world and his own being. The changes begin with discoveries like that of irrational numbers: "This irrational root had sunk into me, like something foreign, alien, frightening, it devoured me--it couldn't be comprehended or defused because it was beyond ratios." (p 36) The world of D-503 is two centuries in the future and much of the thinking of the "Ancients" has been lost but all is not forgotten, unfortunately what is remembered is treated mainly with disdain as superstitious nonsense. It does not belong in the perfect world of the One State.D-503 realizes he is more than a mathematician, he is a poet, and "Every genuine poet is necessarily a Columbus. America existed for centuries before Columbus, but it was only Columbus who was able to track it down. " (p 59). But he has his doubts. He meets I-330, a temptress who defies the rules, and he finds her appealing. Their relationship reminded me of the myth of Adam and Eve in the Garden. The story told by D-503 in his diary is a tragedy for him, but not necessarily for the state in which he exists. This reader found the logic of his journey appealing even while the symbols and references of the author were often mysterious and elusive. The novel was most effective in its portrayal of the atmosphere, the feeling of what it was like to live in the collective world of the One State. In this Zamyatin showed the way for Huxley , Orwell, Bradbury and others who followed him in establishing the twentiety-century Dystopian literary tradition.more
Author Yevgeny Zamyatin took part in two Russian Revolutions, hoping to overthrow the abusive and excessive Czarist system. He had joined the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union), and believed Lenin's promises of a more equitable society, where labor controlled the means of production. By 1920, he tried to remain hopeful, but it was becoming apparent that the country was going in the wrong direction. Three long years since the Revolution had not moved anyone closer to a "workers' paradise"; if anything, it had seen the development of more severe censorship, martial law, and police state surveillance. Across town from Zamyatin's flat, Joseph Stalin was contemplating delicate political maneuvers which would make him the uncontested dictator of the USSR in five years' time. Zamyatin couldn't have known about that, but he knew something was amiss, so he picked up his pen and began writing We. Along with George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, this 1921 novel is the least-known of the triumvirate of big 20th century dystopian tales. It has a special credibility for being not only the first of the three written, but also the only one composed by someone who was actually living in a police state. This gives the work an immediacy which the other two lack. Whereas 1984 and Brave New World only point to a faroff England which might one day be, We bears the imprint of the Soviet society Zamyatin inhabited daily. It is the story of a mathematician (D-503) on staff with the space agency of the One State. It shares plot elements with 1984, in that D-503 starts off an apathetic but essentially pliant tool of the state. He has an emotionless association with lifepartner O-90, and an arm's-length friendship with propaganda publisher R-13, but these accessories fail to bring any pleasure or purpose to his life. Entertainment in the One State consists of political functions and state-arranged prostitution with an assortment of joyless partners. Along comes (what else?) a woman and shakes everything up. I-330 is unlike anybody D-503 has ever met before. She's so full of life, so luminary in an otherwise drab and gray oppressive world. What makes her different? Same as the Julia character in 1984: she's got critical thinking skills, she believes there is more to life than the monolithic State, and she harbors a spark of rebellion in her. She's part of an underground resistance called the "Mephi". The parallels with 1984 are very strong here. D-503 and I-330 enjoy a brief romance, during which he becomes aware of the stifling true nature of the State. He starts to share her dream of what an alternative world, a better world could be, but before he can act on it, the State discovers them and intervenes. D-503 is broken... not with torture as in 1984, but with a lobotomy. Just as Winston Smith is induced to sacrifice Juliet to preserve himself, We closes with the execution of unrepentant I-330.Did Orwell rip off Zamyatin? The paths of influence are unmistakable, but no. The two works bring very different strengths to the table. Orwell examines the political mechanisms of tyrrany. His entire exploration of the interaction between Inner Party, Outer Party and Proles is brilliant; as is the balance of power between Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia; the Inner Party's use of the Trotsky-like scapegoat Emmanuel Goldstein; the manipulation of language to political ends in "newspeak"; and O'Brein's dissertation on the history of Oligarchical Collectivism. These are all Orwell's own, and they make 1984 the powerful work it is. We, on the other hand, examines totalitarian life on a much more personal level- as one might expect from an author with Zamyatin's life experiences. D-503 lives his life mechanically, with the resignation of the completely disempowered. He looks for somebody or something at which to target his anger, but the problem is everywhere; he's entrapped within a comprehensive and interlocking political/economic/social/academic system, with no hope for escape. His loveless partnership with O-90 sucks the life out of him, but he can't be angry at her; her life is as bad as his. His job holds diversionary value for him, but he isn't free to explore his own interests; he serves at the pleasure of the State, and is only valued as a tool to further State aims. The recreational prostitution available to him has no element of personal connection, desire, or conquest. In truth, it's a sort of disguised duty, because once he declines partaking in the sexual bread-and-circus any more, it raises suspicion. Zamyatin was probably as intellectually able as Orwell to explore the political science of the One State, but he doesn't, because he is interpreting his own life experiences through D-503, and unlike Orwell, he has the credibility to do so. In fact, one testament to the truth and authenticity of this novel is the official Soviet response to its printing: Zamyatin had the good sense to know We couldn't be printed in the USSR, so he had it smuggled to Czechoslovakia. When the book became a minor sensation in the West in 1921, Zamyatin was harassed by the NKVD (secret police) and suffered numerous career setbacks. His timing was good though, in that We was first published years before Stalin consolidated power through a series of purges and showtrials, beginning in 1934. If Zamyatin had still been around in '34, there is little doubt he would have been rounded up and tried with other dissidents, and then worked to death in a gulag camp. As it is, he was able to get his friend Maxim Gorky to personally appeal to Stalin, to allow him [Zamyatin] to leave the country. He emigrated to Paris in 1931, and We remained contraband literature in Russia until 1988.If you have an interest in dystopian literature, this book is not to be missed. Personal note: one of my college admission essays was about We.more
Dystopia in a "Utopian" society where everyone is happy because there is no longer anything to worry about. Portends the mindset of Stalinist Russia. Everything is perfectly harmonized and calculated- almost. This story is set in that thought-provoking grey margin.more
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.
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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.more
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?more
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.more
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?"more
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.more
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.more
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.more
Excelent piece of early science fiction, without the sexism that permeates much of the genre.Please read this.more
In 1921, Yevgeny Zamyatin's novel We became the first book to be banned by the Soviet censorship bureau, Glavlit. Mr. Zamyatin was not able to emigrate until 1931 when he arrived in Paris, some seven years after his novel had been published in English. We may have been the model for Aldous Huxley's Brave New World; Mr. Huxley claimed not to have read the novel but George Orwell declared him a liar over this point. Mr. Orwell began work on his classic novel 1984 just a few months after reading We and never denied it's influence on his own novel. We was not published in Russia until 1988.So is this a history lesson or a book review?The pleasure contemporary readers will find in reading We is equal parts literary and historical. Whenever science fiction makes a prediction about the future, be it utopian or dsytopian, it affixes a sell by label to itself. Sooner or later, it will become at least slightly dated. While it can remain both entertaining and enlightening on a literary level, it will also become a piece of historical interest. This is the case with We. It's easy to spot We's influence on George Orwell. In We, a mathematical genius called D-503 is working on the first interplanetary space craft called the Integral. The One State, where D503 lives, controls every aspect of its citizens' lives, down to the hour of each day-- rest, work, even the daily hour of free time are all controlled by the One State. During his hour of free time D-503 meets a woman, I-330, who tries to convince him to join her in a revolt against the state. I-330 takes D-503 to places he would not have considered before, like the other side of the Green Wall which separates the One State from the wilderness that was civilization before a series of wars destroyed all but a small percentage of humanity. Contact with I-330 leads D-503 to begin dreaming which is a sign of mental instability in a world determined to find a way to surgically eliminate imagination from the human mind. In the One State, logic is all that matters.Because D-503 is writing We as a confessional and because he often states how shocked he is at his own behavior in retrospect, the reader knows that his romance with I-330 will not end well. If you've spotted just how similar We and 1984 are, and you remember how things turn out for Julia, the love interest in George Orwell's novel, then you know what to expect. So is there more to reading Yevgeny Zamyatin's We than finding a greater understanding of George Orwell's 1984? Are there literary rewards to be found along with the historical ones? Try this passage from early in the novel when D-503 reads a poem by the great poet R-13:...I had been taking pleasure in a sonnet called "Happiness." I think I'm not mistaken if I say that it is a thing of rarity in its beauty and depth of thought. Here are the first four lines:Forever amorous two-times-twoForever amalgamated in passionate fourThe hottest lovers in the world--Inseparable two-times-twoAnd it continues on about all this--about the wisdom and the eternal happiness of the multiplication table. Every genuine poet is necessarily a Columbus. America existed for centuries before Columbus but it was only Columbus who was able to track it down. The multiplication table existed for centuries before R-13 but it was only R-13 who managed to find a new El Dorado in the virgin thicket of digits. Indeed: is there a place where happiness is wiser, more cloudless, than in this miraculous world? Steel rusts; the ancient God created an ancient human capable of mistakes--and, therefore, He made a mistake Himself. The multiplication table is wiser, more absolute than the ancient God: it never--you understand-- it never makes mistakes. And there is nothing happier than digits, living according to the well-constructed, eternal laws of the multiplication table. Without wavering, without erring. The truth is one, and the true path is one; and this truth is two-times-two, and this true path is four. And wouldn't it be absurd, if these happily, ideally multiplying pairs started to think about some kind of freedom, by which I clearly mean-- about making a mistake?I'd say that's pretty good. Logic prevails. Happiness lies in predictable, mathematical order. Poets and mathematicians to not invent, do not imagine. Instead they simply discover what is already there, reveal what is true. Freedom is a mistake. On the other hand, we can't help but look at We historically, because we know how important two plus two is in George Orwell's 1984 where the state can force even mathematics to bend to its will and become two plus two equals five.more
The label "forgotten classic" is overused, but it definitely applies to We, a dystopian novel written in 1921 by Yevgeny Zamyatin, a Russian author who would soon disappear into exile and obscurity as a result of his work. We is a precursor to Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-four, but in my opinion it is the most powerful and most perfect of the three. The story is told by D-503, a male mathematician in a society organized on the principles of mathematics. The setting is centuries in our future, long after a war has reduced the human population to a few millions and led to the formation of One State, a single enclosed city-state. The guiding principle of One State is that freedom is unhappiness. To ensure uniformity, all buildings, including private dwellings, are made of glass so there is no privacy. The people (called "ciphers") all rise at the same moment, eat together, and take exercise by marching in formation. The true nightmare of Weis not its grim picture of society, but the fact that so many of the ciphers, D-503 included, find it a delightful way to live. There are exceptions, however, including the seductive and mysterious I-330 with whom D-503 falls in love. Such attachments are, of course, forbidden, and D-503 is in anguish over his inability to control his feelings. The style in which Weis written is unique and adds substantially to its appeal. D-503, as noted, is a mathematician, and his memoirs rely heavily on the language and metaphors of mathematics. At times, however, it is an outpouring of emotion from someone utterly unused even to the concept of emotions, much less the experience. We, as one might expect, is a satire against the totalitarian excesses of the new Soviet regime. Both a Communist and a Russian patriot, Zamyatin was astute enough even as early as 1921 to see that the revolution was leading in a direction away from the desires of many of its proponents. But the novel is also a powerful, even shocking statement about our concepts of happiness and freedom.more
This book scares me.Though its ending and the ending to 1984 are very similar, and I knew this before reading We, the ending of We terrified me, while the ending of 1984 simply made me sad.I think this is because Zamiatin presents a world where one cannot be fully human. Everything in the society he paints is done for a purpose, done toward explanation, integration, quantification. Even art, here poetry, is subjected to further serve the United State; there is no free human endeavor. While mathematics and science can both be free endeavor, when they are used as a means rather than an end in and of themselves, they become constrained, even slavish.What also worries me about this book is the contrast it makes between the civilized, technologically advanced, ordered society of d-503, and the disordered, naturalistic, "barbaric" society beyond the Green Wall. Aldous Huxley makes a similar contrast in Brave New World (which he later apologizes for, thankfully), between the world of soma and instant gratification and the world of the savage, as does George Orwell (to a less obvious extent) in 1984 with the proles and the Party members. This recurring contrast seems to imply that it is impossible to be fully human in advanced society, and that one must throw oneself back to nature and technological regression in order to be human. This is entirely unsatisfactory for someone living in modern society (and in fact almost entirely incapable of "escaping").This book, quite honestly, changed my life; it affected me that much. It also encouraged me to articulate my thoughts and concerns about modern society, which was very beneficial. I highly recommend this book (and apologize for this novel of a review).more
This is a fun read - a future world where everything people do is meaningful and with purpose, nothing is done for what we perceive as fun. The hero named D-503 tells us most of what we need to know, thinking his notes will reach a race in outer space, send in a space ship he helped build. Everything is straight and clear, ruled mathematically by a totalitarian government. People live in glass houses, nothing is secret, nothing needs to be secret. Until D-503 meets I-330, a woman with an agenda.It is quite an amazing little book, written before 1921 it still seems fresh and up to date, the world in there still seems futuristic, although a tad closer now than it might have been then - I do not know much about Russia but I think a bit of knowledge about the political situation at the time of writing the novel would have giving me another, deeper level to discover. But even though, it's a darn good book!more
This novel made me think about all the simple things that come along with freedom including the benefits of being able to feel the emotions of jealousy and anger and all of the other things that humans suffer as a means to understand love. Yevgheniy Zamyatin creates a world in his novel We where originality has died. Instead of names, people have numbers, and instead of people, they are digits. This science fiction novel tells the story of digit D-503 who becomes poisoned by the ideas and seduction of the lustrous I-330, a female digit who uses her power as a woman to persuade D-503 into settling into a rhythm that goes against their organized world. Through his digits, Yevgheniy presents the paradox of imagining a world without imagination and creating an earth where order and categories prevail over soul and desire. At one point in the story, D-503 writes that he is sick and does not want to get well. Therefore, We is a contagious novel that explores issues of global reorganization in contrast to what it means to be an individual in a system where there is no “I” but only a “We.”more
"We" is, as the introduction written by Natasha Randall states, a novel in which "mathematics travels through...almost as an allegorical supertext," providing a "volume of symbols and allusions" to delve into and analyze. If that is not your goal, however, "We" can simply be read as the original "1984," a more poetic and beautiful version of a jarring dystopian novel.Our hero is D-503, a mathematician living in a world in which everything is codified and condensed into One State. Every action, every movement, every word has a meaning; nothing is done extraneously. D-503 is content until he meets I-330, a seeming dervish, a pesky irrational number in this society of rationals.This novel is not one to read lightly, and it might help to brush up on the Bolshevik Revolution to understand the background behind the allegory. A previous reviewer stated the novel is in fact a prose poem and I would tend to agree; it's extremely poetic and at times quite beautiful; our hero, D-503, it adept at making keen observations that are so very incisive that I had to stop and underline them. Well worth the read.more
Interesting book, especially as Orwell based much of his '1984' on it. Quite an easy read in terms of the writing style but rather hard to follow at times - perhaps due to the translation from the original Russian or because it's a prose poem. Worth reading if you enjoyed Orwell's classic.more
Very Timely Book!I know that this book was written in the 1920's but it is a brilliant foreshadowing of the reality that seems to be materializing before our eyes.This book is presented as the journal of D-503 a perfectly happy digit in the One State. The world and humanity has been reduced to the lowest common denominator. Individuality in thought or action has been eradicated. Humans have bee reduced to digits that are controlled by the mathematics of the Table of Hours and the world has been reduced to a space enclosed by a green wall and energy field overhead. In this world the digits are forced to be happy by conforming to the standards that have been set for happiness. The individual is immersed in the One State until there is no I just We. This tale is brilliantly told with the use of mathematical terms.This dystopia begins to hit home when the source of all of this forced happiness is revealed to be a government led by the Great Benefactor. This man has determined what is best for everyone else and the people are forced to comply. The people are constantly spied on by the Bureau of Guardians to insure that they develop no individual thoughts are desires. Equality of thoughts, feelings, desires, etc. is the rule of the day and the Great Benefactor will enforce his demanded happiness with death if necessary.I could not help but see modern day America in this narrative. The Great Benefactor is working to provide us with happiness even if he has to force us to take it. Room for individual thought is rapidly fading away. We must all accept the same behavior and ideas without question. Someone else will decide what makes us happy and we will be penalized if we do not agree until forced to comply. The diseases that ravaged the world of "WE" and could not be tolerated were a soul and imagination. Two priceless commodities in America at one time but now they are rapidly becoming nothing more than the square root of negative one.Well worth the read! Now on to the Devil's Advocate. I'm in a dystopian mood.more
Mmm, the original dystopia!I was very apprehensive about picking this one up, having had 1984 and Brave New World figuratively shoved down my throat in high school. After being forced to spend hours upon hours tediously analyzing them, I was an avowed hater of dystopian novels. So stupid! So pointless! I get it already, technology sucks and we should all go back to a pre-industrial society! Why don't you just call yourself a Luddite and get over it!I was wrong.As a general 20th-century Russian literature enthusiast, I decided to give We a chance, and I loved it. I really felt some human connection with the characters, and thoroughly enjoyed all the mathematical language. It's just brilliant. Now, if only they'd had us read this in school, first...more
Linda S. Farne’s translation of Yevgheniy Zamyatin’s “We” examines the power of culture and its influence over quintessentially human behavior. It describes the future world of the United Nation, a sterile civilization protected from the natural world by the Green Wall. Inhabitants of the United Nation are socialized to cast aside their sense of selves (a socially unacknowledgable phrase) in place of propriety, breeding sameness.The ancient religion of God is replaced with a new belief in the Do-Gooder, a mayor and godlike figure. His reign consists of the eradication of the human impulse, employing use of the Great Procedure, like electroshock therapy, to rid inhabitants of imagination and their subsequent will.D-503, aircraft designer, mathematician and upstanding “digit” of this society, is haunted by an obsession with his hairy hands: a reminder of his connection to his animalistic ancestors, who once lived outside the Wall. This structure serves as the boundary between progressive order and uninhibited happiness of equality, and the unpredictable world of irrationality and the disease of the soul. D-503 spouts United Nation rhetoric of conformity and finite human existence, his savage hands putting him at odds with We, the collective identity.When D-503 meets the rebellious, and powerfully destructive female digit, 1-330, he suddenly has questions of the outside world heretofore ignored as irrelevant. Inexplicably affected by his newfound loves and lusts surrounding 1-330, he can no longer make sense of United Nation control; his grasp of clarity becomes jostled. He attempts to come to terms with his unsettling longing for the revolutionary I-330, both craving and resenting his soul-like tendencies.Throughout Zamyatin’s novel, D-503’s sense of self is an unexplainable pang of frustration. He feels a buried, inescapable something lingering within himself; it is inherent and yet contrary to social harmony, dangerously out of sync with the ultimate happiness of the whole. Farne’s translation captures the agony of this tension, as well as the confusion rotating around the idea of an infinite truth. Are we meant to exist in a specified manner, or is there some kind of logic hidden in disorder?more
Unlike Brave New World and 1984, there are flashes here of why you'd want to live -- and how you could survive -- in a dystopia.more
If you love dysytopian science fiction, this book you really should read.more
An excellent book - one of the first recommendations I've taken from other readers. It surpasses Brave New World for me in depth.more
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Reviews

I was hooked to this book by the end of the first chapter. It follows D-503, mathematician, as he keeps a journal destined to be sent up in a spacecraft full of propaganda concerning the greatness of One State. As with many novels depicting 'perfect societies' before and after it, the story revolves around realizing the importance of personal liberties and holding onto a sense of self, even when circumstances try to force the abandonment of these things in exchange for safety and predictability. This book caught my attention more than some other dystopian novels because of the way it was told. I loved the point of view and how protagonist D-503 struggles to keep his known reality in order as it continuously and ever more drastically falls apart. I related to this person, which may say some crazy things about me, but I can't help it. Have you ever thought you had something figured out, or thought something was going well, and then watched it crash and burn and stood in the wreckage and thought to yourself, "where did it all go wrong...?" Then you should read this book.more
The cover of my copy of this book claims to be the most influential science fiction novel of the 20th century. I'm not convinced that's the case, unless it influenced Orwell and Huxley and Bradbury and claims vicarious influence through them, because let's face it: most people haven't even heard of this book. It is indeed a dystopia, where people have willingly sacrificed their freedom and individuality in the name of happiness. Everyone has a letter and number instead of a name. Everyone's actions are completely synchronized, down to each bite of food. All walls are transparent except during sex, which is restricted to certain hours of the day and only with a pre-approved coupon from your partner. When our protagonist, D503, meets the alluringly subversive I330, his world is turned upside-down. Unfortunately, the writing is kind of terrible. A good portion of the sentences end in ellipses, leading me to wonder if anybody in this world is capable of finishing a sentence. It leaves a whole bunch of stuff to inference. Maybe I'm just dense, but I had a lot of trouble figuring out what was going on. And then, after all that confusion, the ending still manages to be trite and predictable. There's a reason why 1984 and Brave New World are more famous than this one: their plots and philosophies, at least, are possible to follow. If you read only one dystopian novel this year, choose something else.more
I read this in undergrad and truly enjoyed it. I also love Brave New World which is quite similar.  more
D-503 lives in a perfect world, the One State, where everyone lives for the whole collective and there is no individual freedom. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin is a record of the diary of D-503, a mathematician who is living and working in this apparent Utopia. However the cracks appear and it becomes clear that this is really a Dystopia. Dystopia is utopia's polarized mirror image. While using many of the same concepts as utopia—for example, social stability created by authoritarian regimentation—dystopia presents these ideas pessimistically. Dystopia angrily challenges utopia's fundamental assumption of human perfectibility, arguing that humanity's inherent flaws negate the possibility of constructing perfect societies, except for those that are perfectly hellish. Fictional dystopias like the one in We present grim, oppressive societies.Zamyatin skillfully has his protagonist slowly discover the true nature of his world and his own being. The changes begin with discoveries like that of irrational numbers: "This irrational root had sunk into me, like something foreign, alien, frightening, it devoured me--it couldn't be comprehended or defused because it was beyond ratios." (p 36) The world of D-503 is two centuries in the future and much of the thinking of the "Ancients" has been lost but all is not forgotten, unfortunately what is remembered is treated mainly with disdain as superstitious nonsense. It does not belong in the perfect world of the One State.D-503 realizes he is more than a mathematician, he is a poet, and "Every genuine poet is necessarily a Columbus. America existed for centuries before Columbus, but it was only Columbus who was able to track it down. " (p 59). But he has his doubts. He meets I-330, a temptress who defies the rules, and he finds her appealing. Their relationship reminded me of the myth of Adam and Eve in the Garden. The story told by D-503 in his diary is a tragedy for him, but not necessarily for the state in which he exists. This reader found the logic of his journey appealing even while the symbols and references of the author were often mysterious and elusive. The novel was most effective in its portrayal of the atmosphere, the feeling of what it was like to live in the collective world of the One State. In this Zamyatin showed the way for Huxley , Orwell, Bradbury and others who followed him in establishing the twentiety-century Dystopian literary tradition.more
Author Yevgeny Zamyatin took part in two Russian Revolutions, hoping to overthrow the abusive and excessive Czarist system. He had joined the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union), and believed Lenin's promises of a more equitable society, where labor controlled the means of production. By 1920, he tried to remain hopeful, but it was becoming apparent that the country was going in the wrong direction. Three long years since the Revolution had not moved anyone closer to a "workers' paradise"; if anything, it had seen the development of more severe censorship, martial law, and police state surveillance. Across town from Zamyatin's flat, Joseph Stalin was contemplating delicate political maneuvers which would make him the uncontested dictator of the USSR in five years' time. Zamyatin couldn't have known about that, but he knew something was amiss, so he picked up his pen and began writing We. Along with George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, this 1921 novel is the least-known of the triumvirate of big 20th century dystopian tales. It has a special credibility for being not only the first of the three written, but also the only one composed by someone who was actually living in a police state. This gives the work an immediacy which the other two lack. Whereas 1984 and Brave New World only point to a faroff England which might one day be, We bears the imprint of the Soviet society Zamyatin inhabited daily. It is the story of a mathematician (D-503) on staff with the space agency of the One State. It shares plot elements with 1984, in that D-503 starts off an apathetic but essentially pliant tool of the state. He has an emotionless association with lifepartner O-90, and an arm's-length friendship with propaganda publisher R-13, but these accessories fail to bring any pleasure or purpose to his life. Entertainment in the One State consists of political functions and state-arranged prostitution with an assortment of joyless partners. Along comes (what else?) a woman and shakes everything up. I-330 is unlike anybody D-503 has ever met before. She's so full of life, so luminary in an otherwise drab and gray oppressive world. What makes her different? Same as the Julia character in 1984: she's got critical thinking skills, she believes there is more to life than the monolithic State, and she harbors a spark of rebellion in her. She's part of an underground resistance called the "Mephi". The parallels with 1984 are very strong here. D-503 and I-330 enjoy a brief romance, during which he becomes aware of the stifling true nature of the State. He starts to share her dream of what an alternative world, a better world could be, but before he can act on it, the State discovers them and intervenes. D-503 is broken... not with torture as in 1984, but with a lobotomy. Just as Winston Smith is induced to sacrifice Juliet to preserve himself, We closes with the execution of unrepentant I-330.Did Orwell rip off Zamyatin? The paths of influence are unmistakable, but no. The two works bring very different strengths to the table. Orwell examines the political mechanisms of tyrrany. His entire exploration of the interaction between Inner Party, Outer Party and Proles is brilliant; as is the balance of power between Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia; the Inner Party's use of the Trotsky-like scapegoat Emmanuel Goldstein; the manipulation of language to political ends in "newspeak"; and O'Brein's dissertation on the history of Oligarchical Collectivism. These are all Orwell's own, and they make 1984 the powerful work it is. We, on the other hand, examines totalitarian life on a much more personal level- as one might expect from an author with Zamyatin's life experiences. D-503 lives his life mechanically, with the resignation of the completely disempowered. He looks for somebody or something at which to target his anger, but the problem is everywhere; he's entrapped within a comprehensive and interlocking political/economic/social/academic system, with no hope for escape. His loveless partnership with O-90 sucks the life out of him, but he can't be angry at her; her life is as bad as his. His job holds diversionary value for him, but he isn't free to explore his own interests; he serves at the pleasure of the State, and is only valued as a tool to further State aims. The recreational prostitution available to him has no element of personal connection, desire, or conquest. In truth, it's a sort of disguised duty, because once he declines partaking in the sexual bread-and-circus any more, it raises suspicion. Zamyatin was probably as intellectually able as Orwell to explore the political science of the One State, but he doesn't, because he is interpreting his own life experiences through D-503, and unlike Orwell, he has the credibility to do so. In fact, one testament to the truth and authenticity of this novel is the official Soviet response to its printing: Zamyatin had the good sense to know We couldn't be printed in the USSR, so he had it smuggled to Czechoslovakia. When the book became a minor sensation in the West in 1921, Zamyatin was harassed by the NKVD (secret police) and suffered numerous career setbacks. His timing was good though, in that We was first published years before Stalin consolidated power through a series of purges and showtrials, beginning in 1934. If Zamyatin had still been around in '34, there is little doubt he would have been rounded up and tried with other dissidents, and then worked to death in a gulag camp. As it is, he was able to get his friend Maxim Gorky to personally appeal to Stalin, to allow him [Zamyatin] to leave the country. He emigrated to Paris in 1931, and We remained contraband literature in Russia until 1988.If you have an interest in dystopian literature, this book is not to be missed. Personal note: one of my college admission essays was about We.more
Dystopia in a "Utopian" society where everyone is happy because there is no longer anything to worry about. Portends the mindset of Stalinist Russia. Everything is perfectly harmonized and calculated- almost. This story is set in that thought-provoking grey margin.more
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.
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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.more
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?more
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.more
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?"more
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.more
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.more
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.more
Excelent piece of early science fiction, without the sexism that permeates much of the genre.Please read this.more
In 1921, Yevgeny Zamyatin's novel We became the first book to be banned by the Soviet censorship bureau, Glavlit. Mr. Zamyatin was not able to emigrate until 1931 when he arrived in Paris, some seven years after his novel had been published in English. We may have been the model for Aldous Huxley's Brave New World; Mr. Huxley claimed not to have read the novel but George Orwell declared him a liar over this point. Mr. Orwell began work on his classic novel 1984 just a few months after reading We and never denied it's influence on his own novel. We was not published in Russia until 1988.So is this a history lesson or a book review?The pleasure contemporary readers will find in reading We is equal parts literary and historical. Whenever science fiction makes a prediction about the future, be it utopian or dsytopian, it affixes a sell by label to itself. Sooner or later, it will become at least slightly dated. While it can remain both entertaining and enlightening on a literary level, it will also become a piece of historical interest. This is the case with We. It's easy to spot We's influence on George Orwell. In We, a mathematical genius called D-503 is working on the first interplanetary space craft called the Integral. The One State, where D503 lives, controls every aspect of its citizens' lives, down to the hour of each day-- rest, work, even the daily hour of free time are all controlled by the One State. During his hour of free time D-503 meets a woman, I-330, who tries to convince him to join her in a revolt against the state. I-330 takes D-503 to places he would not have considered before, like the other side of the Green Wall which separates the One State from the wilderness that was civilization before a series of wars destroyed all but a small percentage of humanity. Contact with I-330 leads D-503 to begin dreaming which is a sign of mental instability in a world determined to find a way to surgically eliminate imagination from the human mind. In the One State, logic is all that matters.Because D-503 is writing We as a confessional and because he often states how shocked he is at his own behavior in retrospect, the reader knows that his romance with I-330 will not end well. If you've spotted just how similar We and 1984 are, and you remember how things turn out for Julia, the love interest in George Orwell's novel, then you know what to expect. So is there more to reading Yevgeny Zamyatin's We than finding a greater understanding of George Orwell's 1984? Are there literary rewards to be found along with the historical ones? Try this passage from early in the novel when D-503 reads a poem by the great poet R-13:...I had been taking pleasure in a sonnet called "Happiness." I think I'm not mistaken if I say that it is a thing of rarity in its beauty and depth of thought. Here are the first four lines:Forever amorous two-times-twoForever amalgamated in passionate fourThe hottest lovers in the world--Inseparable two-times-twoAnd it continues on about all this--about the wisdom and the eternal happiness of the multiplication table. Every genuine poet is necessarily a Columbus. America existed for centuries before Columbus but it was only Columbus who was able to track it down. The multiplication table existed for centuries before R-13 but it was only R-13 who managed to find a new El Dorado in the virgin thicket of digits. Indeed: is there a place where happiness is wiser, more cloudless, than in this miraculous world? Steel rusts; the ancient God created an ancient human capable of mistakes--and, therefore, He made a mistake Himself. The multiplication table is wiser, more absolute than the ancient God: it never--you understand-- it never makes mistakes. And there is nothing happier than digits, living according to the well-constructed, eternal laws of the multiplication table. Without wavering, without erring. The truth is one, and the true path is one; and this truth is two-times-two, and this true path is four. And wouldn't it be absurd, if these happily, ideally multiplying pairs started to think about some kind of freedom, by which I clearly mean-- about making a mistake?I'd say that's pretty good. Logic prevails. Happiness lies in predictable, mathematical order. Poets and mathematicians to not invent, do not imagine. Instead they simply discover what is already there, reveal what is true. Freedom is a mistake. On the other hand, we can't help but look at We historically, because we know how important two plus two is in George Orwell's 1984 where the state can force even mathematics to bend to its will and become two plus two equals five.more
The label "forgotten classic" is overused, but it definitely applies to We, a dystopian novel written in 1921 by Yevgeny Zamyatin, a Russian author who would soon disappear into exile and obscurity as a result of his work. We is a precursor to Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-four, but in my opinion it is the most powerful and most perfect of the three. The story is told by D-503, a male mathematician in a society organized on the principles of mathematics. The setting is centuries in our future, long after a war has reduced the human population to a few millions and led to the formation of One State, a single enclosed city-state. The guiding principle of One State is that freedom is unhappiness. To ensure uniformity, all buildings, including private dwellings, are made of glass so there is no privacy. The people (called "ciphers") all rise at the same moment, eat together, and take exercise by marching in formation. The true nightmare of Weis not its grim picture of society, but the fact that so many of the ciphers, D-503 included, find it a delightful way to live. There are exceptions, however, including the seductive and mysterious I-330 with whom D-503 falls in love. Such attachments are, of course, forbidden, and D-503 is in anguish over his inability to control his feelings. The style in which Weis written is unique and adds substantially to its appeal. D-503, as noted, is a mathematician, and his memoirs rely heavily on the language and metaphors of mathematics. At times, however, it is an outpouring of emotion from someone utterly unused even to the concept of emotions, much less the experience. We, as one might expect, is a satire against the totalitarian excesses of the new Soviet regime. Both a Communist and a Russian patriot, Zamyatin was astute enough even as early as 1921 to see that the revolution was leading in a direction away from the desires of many of its proponents. But the novel is also a powerful, even shocking statement about our concepts of happiness and freedom.more
This book scares me.Though its ending and the ending to 1984 are very similar, and I knew this before reading We, the ending of We terrified me, while the ending of 1984 simply made me sad.I think this is because Zamiatin presents a world where one cannot be fully human. Everything in the society he paints is done for a purpose, done toward explanation, integration, quantification. Even art, here poetry, is subjected to further serve the United State; there is no free human endeavor. While mathematics and science can both be free endeavor, when they are used as a means rather than an end in and of themselves, they become constrained, even slavish.What also worries me about this book is the contrast it makes between the civilized, technologically advanced, ordered society of d-503, and the disordered, naturalistic, "barbaric" society beyond the Green Wall. Aldous Huxley makes a similar contrast in Brave New World (which he later apologizes for, thankfully), between the world of soma and instant gratification and the world of the savage, as does George Orwell (to a less obvious extent) in 1984 with the proles and the Party members. This recurring contrast seems to imply that it is impossible to be fully human in advanced society, and that one must throw oneself back to nature and technological regression in order to be human. This is entirely unsatisfactory for someone living in modern society (and in fact almost entirely incapable of "escaping").This book, quite honestly, changed my life; it affected me that much. It also encouraged me to articulate my thoughts and concerns about modern society, which was very beneficial. I highly recommend this book (and apologize for this novel of a review).more
This is a fun read - a future world where everything people do is meaningful and with purpose, nothing is done for what we perceive as fun. The hero named D-503 tells us most of what we need to know, thinking his notes will reach a race in outer space, send in a space ship he helped build. Everything is straight and clear, ruled mathematically by a totalitarian government. People live in glass houses, nothing is secret, nothing needs to be secret. Until D-503 meets I-330, a woman with an agenda.It is quite an amazing little book, written before 1921 it still seems fresh and up to date, the world in there still seems futuristic, although a tad closer now than it might have been then - I do not know much about Russia but I think a bit of knowledge about the political situation at the time of writing the novel would have giving me another, deeper level to discover. But even though, it's a darn good book!more
This novel made me think about all the simple things that come along with freedom including the benefits of being able to feel the emotions of jealousy and anger and all of the other things that humans suffer as a means to understand love. Yevgheniy Zamyatin creates a world in his novel We where originality has died. Instead of names, people have numbers, and instead of people, they are digits. This science fiction novel tells the story of digit D-503 who becomes poisoned by the ideas and seduction of the lustrous I-330, a female digit who uses her power as a woman to persuade D-503 into settling into a rhythm that goes against their organized world. Through his digits, Yevgheniy presents the paradox of imagining a world without imagination and creating an earth where order and categories prevail over soul and desire. At one point in the story, D-503 writes that he is sick and does not want to get well. Therefore, We is a contagious novel that explores issues of global reorganization in contrast to what it means to be an individual in a system where there is no “I” but only a “We.”more
"We" is, as the introduction written by Natasha Randall states, a novel in which "mathematics travels through...almost as an allegorical supertext," providing a "volume of symbols and allusions" to delve into and analyze. If that is not your goal, however, "We" can simply be read as the original "1984," a more poetic and beautiful version of a jarring dystopian novel.Our hero is D-503, a mathematician living in a world in which everything is codified and condensed into One State. Every action, every movement, every word has a meaning; nothing is done extraneously. D-503 is content until he meets I-330, a seeming dervish, a pesky irrational number in this society of rationals.This novel is not one to read lightly, and it might help to brush up on the Bolshevik Revolution to understand the background behind the allegory. A previous reviewer stated the novel is in fact a prose poem and I would tend to agree; it's extremely poetic and at times quite beautiful; our hero, D-503, it adept at making keen observations that are so very incisive that I had to stop and underline them. Well worth the read.more
Interesting book, especially as Orwell based much of his '1984' on it. Quite an easy read in terms of the writing style but rather hard to follow at times - perhaps due to the translation from the original Russian or because it's a prose poem. Worth reading if you enjoyed Orwell's classic.more
Very Timely Book!I know that this book was written in the 1920's but it is a brilliant foreshadowing of the reality that seems to be materializing before our eyes.This book is presented as the journal of D-503 a perfectly happy digit in the One State. The world and humanity has been reduced to the lowest common denominator. Individuality in thought or action has been eradicated. Humans have bee reduced to digits that are controlled by the mathematics of the Table of Hours and the world has been reduced to a space enclosed by a green wall and energy field overhead. In this world the digits are forced to be happy by conforming to the standards that have been set for happiness. The individual is immersed in the One State until there is no I just We. This tale is brilliantly told with the use of mathematical terms.This dystopia begins to hit home when the source of all of this forced happiness is revealed to be a government led by the Great Benefactor. This man has determined what is best for everyone else and the people are forced to comply. The people are constantly spied on by the Bureau of Guardians to insure that they develop no individual thoughts are desires. Equality of thoughts, feelings, desires, etc. is the rule of the day and the Great Benefactor will enforce his demanded happiness with death if necessary.I could not help but see modern day America in this narrative. The Great Benefactor is working to provide us with happiness even if he has to force us to take it. Room for individual thought is rapidly fading away. We must all accept the same behavior and ideas without question. Someone else will decide what makes us happy and we will be penalized if we do not agree until forced to comply. The diseases that ravaged the world of "WE" and could not be tolerated were a soul and imagination. Two priceless commodities in America at one time but now they are rapidly becoming nothing more than the square root of negative one.Well worth the read! Now on to the Devil's Advocate. I'm in a dystopian mood.more
Mmm, the original dystopia!I was very apprehensive about picking this one up, having had 1984 and Brave New World figuratively shoved down my throat in high school. After being forced to spend hours upon hours tediously analyzing them, I was an avowed hater of dystopian novels. So stupid! So pointless! I get it already, technology sucks and we should all go back to a pre-industrial society! Why don't you just call yourself a Luddite and get over it!I was wrong.As a general 20th-century Russian literature enthusiast, I decided to give We a chance, and I loved it. I really felt some human connection with the characters, and thoroughly enjoyed all the mathematical language. It's just brilliant. Now, if only they'd had us read this in school, first...more
Linda S. Farne’s translation of Yevgheniy Zamyatin’s “We” examines the power of culture and its influence over quintessentially human behavior. It describes the future world of the United Nation, a sterile civilization protected from the natural world by the Green Wall. Inhabitants of the United Nation are socialized to cast aside their sense of selves (a socially unacknowledgable phrase) in place of propriety, breeding sameness.The ancient religion of God is replaced with a new belief in the Do-Gooder, a mayor and godlike figure. His reign consists of the eradication of the human impulse, employing use of the Great Procedure, like electroshock therapy, to rid inhabitants of imagination and their subsequent will.D-503, aircraft designer, mathematician and upstanding “digit” of this society, is haunted by an obsession with his hairy hands: a reminder of his connection to his animalistic ancestors, who once lived outside the Wall. This structure serves as the boundary between progressive order and uninhibited happiness of equality, and the unpredictable world of irrationality and the disease of the soul. D-503 spouts United Nation rhetoric of conformity and finite human existence, his savage hands putting him at odds with We, the collective identity.When D-503 meets the rebellious, and powerfully destructive female digit, 1-330, he suddenly has questions of the outside world heretofore ignored as irrelevant. Inexplicably affected by his newfound loves and lusts surrounding 1-330, he can no longer make sense of United Nation control; his grasp of clarity becomes jostled. He attempts to come to terms with his unsettling longing for the revolutionary I-330, both craving and resenting his soul-like tendencies.Throughout Zamyatin’s novel, D-503’s sense of self is an unexplainable pang of frustration. He feels a buried, inescapable something lingering within himself; it is inherent and yet contrary to social harmony, dangerously out of sync with the ultimate happiness of the whole. Farne’s translation captures the agony of this tension, as well as the confusion rotating around the idea of an infinite truth. Are we meant to exist in a specified manner, or is there some kind of logic hidden in disorder?more
Unlike Brave New World and 1984, there are flashes here of why you'd want to live -- and how you could survive -- in a dystopia.more
If you love dysytopian science fiction, this book you really should read.more
An excellent book - one of the first recommendations I've taken from other readers. It surpasses Brave New World for me in depth.more
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