Joshua's Reviews > We

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
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's review
Jan 30, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: classics, sci-fi-and-fantasy
Recommended for: Anyone interested on where 1984 got its ideas from
Read in January, 2001

Completed in 1921 and banned in it's native Russia for over 50 years, Yevgeny Zamyatin's We is generally considered the grandfather of dystopian literature. Before Orwell had his Big Brother, and before Huxley had his Brave New World , Yevgeny had We and the all-powerful Benefactor. Hugely inspirational to Orwell and Huxley, Yevgeny created a world that in my humble opinion, was better than the ones that followed.
The novel revolves around a man named "D-503" who lives in a totalitarian society called the "One-State" which is made completely of glass (so everyone can be "visible" at all times) and which believes that free-will is the cause of the world's unhappiness. Therefor men and woman are given numbers and wear the same special clothes so there is no individuality. Even sex is done after simple math is calculated on who you can sleep with whom, and limited amount of "pink" slips are given out to the citizens which are then returned to the state after copulation has been confirmed. Like the dystopian novels that follow it, the protagonist begins to question the society he lives in after eventually feeling love which begins to tear at the very fabric of his state constructed persona. It is this "betrayal" that makes this story so compelling.
This novel was quite critical of communist Russia which in turn banned it for so long. After reading it, it's not hard to see why it was so influential to future writers and so deviled by the communist government at the time. We shows us a stark world where the government clamps down on any free thought and in turn any art, which must have seemed a closing reality to Yevgeny. This is not for everyone. It is a bleak, depressing, cynical and tragic. Still, there is always hope if you can look past things, and I think We is a brilliant represenation of that. Highly recommended.
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message 1: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Strömquist Great review! I really need to re-read this, it's been ages...

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