Sean Meriwether's Reviews > We

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
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bookshelves: recommended-to-me, sci-fi, dystopia

“There is a tyranny in the womb of every Utopia.” ― Bertrand De Jouvenel

Completed in 1921 and published in English in 1924, Zamyatin’s We can easily be traced back as an inspirational (or just short of plagiarized) source for many better known works, including: Brave New World , 1984 , Anthem , Metropolis , and even the more recent Logan's Run .

The machine age is taken to an extreme in which the aspiration of society is to mirror the passionless efficiency of machines, squelching human feeling, imagination and desires to benefit the One State. This "utopian" enclave strips humans down to their utility, reduces their names to alphanumeric anonymity, requires them to schedule sexual partners, personal hours, and their meals according to a regimented Table of Hours. Music and poetry are composed by algorithms. Dreams are a sign of mental illness. Everyone lives safely inside the Green Wall, within self-policing glass structures, where the only chance for privacy is during the hour set aside for prescribed intercourse. The citizens police each other; the Guardians enforce the laws to protect the Benefactor. This only works so long as no one questions the structure which is an organized, but oppressive and joyless existence.

The story will sound familiar. A man, D-503, begins to express his private thoughts about society in a secret journal. He is lured by a woman, I-303, into sensuality and independent thought. She is passionately devoted to revolution against the controlling mechanisms of the government and teams up with less repressed members of humanity living outside the walls of the city (the Melphi). D-503, inventor of a spaceship, the Integral, which will be used by the One State to spread their regimented style of living to distant planets missionary style. However, his invention is also a potential weapon that can be used against the One State. As D-503 begins to lose his balance the novel’s cadence drifts into a dreamlike state saturated with color and texture, particularly at the Ancient House, a museum of the failed past. The novel ends on a bittersweet note; the revolt is crushed but new seeds to overthrow the Benefactor have been planted... a theme which continues to repeat itself. Quoting I-303, “There is no final one; revolutions are infinite.”

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Reading Progress

February 17, 2011 – Shelved
June 21, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
June 21, 2018 – Shelved as: recommended-to-me
April 8, 2019 – Started Reading
April 8, 2019 – Shelved as: sci-fi
April 8, 2019 – Shelved as: dystopia
April 12, 2019 – Finished Reading

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