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We (Yevgeny Zamyatin) (1 Viewer)

Titania

Senior Member
Called "The most influential science fiction novel of the 20th century," this pre-1984, pre-Brave New World dystopian novel was assigned reading for my AP European History class this semester, and despite the insistence of my teacher that it was a masterpiece, I was honestly surprised how much I enjoyed it.

Written by Yevgeny Zamyatin, a Russian author, the book was originally composed in 1920-21 and is a satirical yet chilling tale of a future society in which nothing is left free. Every part of life is regulated, governed by complex mathematical equations; the Benefactor, leader of the great One State, has even gone so far as to create clocks at eating locations, where everyone eats at the same time, their very chews synchronized with the pendulum. A massive Green Wall surrounds the One State, keeping everything natural - everything free - away from the Utopian, perfect nation where Reason reigns supreme.

D-503 is a mathematician, the chief builder of the Integral, a massive spaceship built to extend the rule of reason to the very stars. He is happy, blissfully happy; he is unaware of the concept of freedom as a right to be fought for. In the weeks before the launching of the Integral, he begins a journal - and it is from this journal that the story of We is told.

We is chilling, even more so for its originality at the time and the persistent message that carries over into today's society. D-503 encounters another number, the gorgeous, enigmatic I-330, and before long their relationship makes him question the One State, as he grows to develop a terrible, near-incurable disease: that of the soul. The story of Adam & Eve is paralleled, the forbidden knowledge of the tree represented by the Ancient House where a fragment of ancient society is preserved in all its chaos, giving spark to imagination in a culture where individuality is treated as a medical condition. It is a classic story, showing philosophical musings and dark humor by turns, a true predecessor, perhaps even a superior (at least in my mind) to the later dystopian novels.

We (Mirra Ginsburg translation said:
Imagination.

It is the worm that gnaws out black lines on the forehead. It is a fever that drives you to escape even farther - even if this "farther" begins where happiness ends. This is our last barricade on the way to happiness.

Rejoice, then: This barricade has already been blown up.

The road is open.

The latest discovery of State Science is the location of the center of the imagination - a miserable little nodule in the brain in the area of the pons Varolii. Triple X-ray cautery of this nodule - and you are cured of imagination -

Forever.

I would recommend this book in particular to anyone who likes dystopian novels such as 1984. It's also intriguing in parts if one has a fair knowledge of advanced mathematics; D-503 muses about the irrationality of life and of the square root of -1, and the entire concept of the society rigidly structured by mathematical equations is fascinating. We is also fairly short, only about 230 pages, and it seems like even less than that. Overall, I enjoyed it.
 

FinnMacCool

Senior Member
Ah I was gonna read this book when I found oiut that it influenced Uncle George. Your review definatly has encouraged me and I will most definately pick it up, if I can ever find it.
 

Stewart

Senior Member
Titania said:
D-503 is a mathematician...

I'm reading this just now (about 100 pages to go) and I think it's this statement which is making me find the book a little annoying. Our narrator is a mathematician yet he writes like a poet, but the citizens of OneState are regimented and raised so much that poets are developed away from the mathematicians. Unless there's some big revelation toward the end about how D is not really all about the numbers then I can't help but feel the narrative is out of character, despite it being the only character I truly know in OneState.
 

JP Wagner

Senior Member
This book was seriously one of the best books I have read. I love dystoptian society books (have written a few) but there are nothing like the masterpeices. This one is definatly one of them.
 
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