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The exhilarating dystopian novel that inspired George Orwell's 1984 and foreshadowed the worst excesses of Soviet Russia

Yevgeny Zamyatin's We is a powerfully inventive vision that has influenced writers from George Orwell to Ayn Rand. In a glass-enclosed city of absolute straight lines, ruled over by the all-powerful 'Benefactor', the citizens of the totalitarian society of OneState live out lives devoid of passion and creativity - until D-503, a mathematician who dreams in numbers, makes a discovery: he has an individual soul. Set in the twenty-sixth century AD, We is the classic dystopian novel and was the forerunner of works such as George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. It was suppressed for many years in Russia and remains a resounding cry for individual freedom, yet is also a powerful, exciting and vivid work of science fiction. Clarence Brown's brilliant translation is based on the corrected text of the novel, first published in Russia in 1988 after more than sixty years' suppression.

226 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1924

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About the author

Yevgeny Zamyatin

282 books1,059 followers
Yevgeny Zamyatin (Russian: Евгений Замятин, sometimes also seen spelled Eugene Zamiatin) Russian novelist, playwright, short story writer, and essayist, whose famous anti-utopia (1924, We) prefigured Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932), and inspired George Orwell's 1984 (1949). The book was considered a "malicious slander on socialism" in the Soviet Union, and it was not until 1988 when Zamyatin was rehabilitated. In the English-speaking world We has appeared in several translations.

"And then, just the way it was this morning in the hangar, I saw again, as though right then for the first time in my life, I saw everything: the unalterably straight streets, the sparkling glass of the sidewalks, the divine parallelepipeds of the transparent dwellings, the squared harmony of our gray-blue ranks. And so I felt that I - not generations of people, but I myself - I had conquered the old God and the old life, I myself had created all this, and I'm like a tower, I'm afraid to move my elbow for fear of shattering the walls, the cupolas, the machines..." (from We, trans. by Clarence Brown)
Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin was born in the provincial town of Lebedian, some two hundred miles south of Moscow. His father was an Orthodox priest and schoolmaster, and his mother a musician. He attended Progymnasium in Lebedian and gymnasium in Voronezh. From 1902 to 1908 he studied naval engineering at St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute. While still a student, he joined the Bolshevik Party. In 1905 he made a study trip in the Near East. Due to his revolutionary activities Zamyatin was arrested in 1905 and exiled. His first short story, 'Odin' (1908), was drew on his experiences in prison.
Zamyatin applied to Stalin for permission to emigrate in 1931 and lived in Paris until his death.

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5 stars
27,492 (30%)
4 stars
33,823 (37%)
3 stars
20,786 (23%)
2 stars
5,480 (6%)
1 star
1,638 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,555 reviews
Profile Image for Forrest.
Author 46 books699 followers
February 22, 2015
George Orwell, you poser. You punk. You . . . thief! I heard that you had read this before writing 1984. But I didn't expect Zamyatin's writing to be so superior to yours. And it is. It is so much more intriguing than your sterile work. D-503 is so much the better character than Winston. And you rob I-333 of her power and respect by demoting Julia to the role of a sexual object that stirs Winston to action. Yes, D-503 is stirred to action by I-333, but she's the political activist, the intelligent one in this revolution. Besides, Zamyatin had the guts to apply a letter and a name to his characters, while your very English "Winston" makes your work smack of parochialism and, frankly, condescension. D-503 is the universal toadie and I-333 the universal revolutionary.

"Winston"? Really? Were you trying to evoke Churchill? Somehow I sense . . .

Regardless of this, Zamyatin's prose is far better than yours. It never seems hackneyed, and rarely pedantic, though I suppose any novel that portrays rebellion against totalitarianism has to be somewhat pedantic. But because Zamyatin actually lived under a totalitarian state - TWO, actually! - and you only imagined what the Socialists would do in your imaginary world, he avoids much of the rhetoric that you seem to embrace, even while lampooning the imagined society of Big Brother.

You see, despite his impersonal name, D-503 is so much more human than Winston. Yes, Winston is a revolutionary like D-503, but when I read him in comparison with the protagonist of We, Winston comes off as disingenuous. D-503 is the real deal, because Zamyatin was the real deal. The man was exiled by both the Tsar and the Communists for his free-thinking while you were worried about threats from within your country that never materialized. Maybe that's why 1984 feels so forced (remember that awful middle section outlining the world's politics - BORING!), while We feels so much more natural and easy to read.

Furthermore, Zamyatin's prose is beautiful. Yes, you have the occasional turn of phrase that came out well, iconic, even, but Zamyatin's writing is beautiful throughout, even in its stochasticity. It's the writing of a poet who actually lived under totalitarianism, not a vested academic who feared a potential threat. You were fighting despotism, Zamyatin was living with it. You surmised, he knew.

And for these reasons, I am doing the unprecedented (for me, at least): I am taking one of your stars and giving it to Zamyatin. Because, while his work isn't perfect, one must give credit where credit is due. Censorship, along with the the Cold War, gave you your day in the sun of America's high school classrooms, when, all along, those kids, myself included, should have been reading Zamyatin's work.

That's an injustice. Maybe you're not totally to blame. Maybe Western society has to shoulder some of the guilt here. But . . . but . . . you copycat!
Profile Image for Nataliya.
727 reviews11.6k followers
August 17, 2020
It's been a decade since I first read Zamyatin's masterpiece, and even though this book remains unchanged for almost a century now, the person who read it is not. A decade later, I'm a very different person, no longer the wide-eyed undergraduate who thought she had the world all figured out. Time has added a bit more life experience, an overdose of cynicism, a few collisions with the rougher edges of the universe, and a few still subtle grey hairs. Time has dispelled some of the youthful cocky confidence, softened a few edges, sharpened a few more, and helped open my eyes to the areas of life I used to give little thought to before. It managed to keep my love of philosophical discussions intact but greatly decreased the amount of wine I can have fueling those.

In short, I'm no longer the same person as I was a decade ago, reading Zamyatin's masterpiece for the first time.

And this book for me now is very different than it was back then. I can see more of its unsettling depth, and it leaves me almost speechless (just joking, of course, nothing in this world can make me really shut up).

I remember being impressed by the dystopian society, focusing on the idea of One State, the totalitarian oppression and the parallels between it and the soon-to-follow societal changes in Zamyatin's motherland. You know, the obvious, easy stuff, the one that gets quite old after reading a few dystopian books (like Orwell's one, inspired by 'We'), the stuff that causes exasperated sigh of 'Yes, I get it, totalitarian = bad, individualism suits humans, oppression is evil, so what?' And that's right - so what? If that was all there was to Zamyatin's 'We' it would have disappeared from the public eye by now, lingering perhaps only in a few dusty college classrooms.
What makes 'We' special is not dystopian society alone.

It's the amazing atmosphere Zamyatin creates through the pen of his protagonist, a little formerly happy cog in the wheel with a few atavistic features and an unexpected development of an incurable condition - a soul. The writing so amazingly reflects the mental state of the confused man - so fractured and frantic and stuttering and urgent and anxious and often disjointed, laden with metaphors and unexpected emotions and full-on scream of soul.
"Because I live now not in our rational world but in the ancient one, senseless, the world of square roots of minus one."

It's the strength of unexpected chaotic emotional outpouring and emotional breakdown from the protagonist, running headfirst into the hitherto unknown to him wall of passion and jealousy and possessiveness, with all the both lovely and frustrating humanity that follows.
“You're afraid of it because it's stronger than you, you hate it because you're afraid of it, you love it because you can't master it. You can only love something that refuses to be mastered.”

It's the prominent in Russian literature motif of search for happiness and attempts to figure out the secret of this elusive happiness for all, the soul search that leads to fewer answers than it inspires questions.
“So here I am in step with everyone now, and yet I'm still separate from everyone. I am still trembling all over from the agitation I endured, like a bridge after an ancient train has rumbled over it. I am aware of myself. And, of course, the only things that are aware of themselves and conscious of their individuality are irritated eyes, cut fingers, sore teeth. A healthy eye, finger, tooth might as well not even be there. Isn't it clear that individual consciousness is just sickness?”

I read this book again. It left me unsettled and confused, it left me uneasy, and for all this I love it. Because it does what literature is meant to do - to disquiet the soul. And for this I love it.


Zamyatin's masterfully written dystopian masterpiece predated (and likely inspired) the popular Western books that explored the similar themes - Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Written in 1920, before the Soviet Union even existed, it predicted the Stalin and Brezhnev eras with terrifying foresight. Evgeniy Zamyatin did not share the fascination with the new State and the glory of the Great October Socialist Revolution.
“The only means of ridding man of crime is ridding him of freedom.”
With his novel, Zamyatin disagrees. No wonder it was banned in the Soviet Union until late 1980s - since one of his characters brings up the ultimate blasphemy:
"There is no final revolution. Revolutions are infinite."
At that time, during the birth of the "new world order" that emphasized the good of the State over the good of individual "cogs in the machine", the beauty of uniformity of unity over individual variations, Zamyatin described the hollowness that replacing soul and love with cold reason and logic and individuals with "numbers" would bring. In this world everything is rationalized, de-individualized, regimented, and oppressively safe. Even the leader, the "Benefactor", is little but a slave to the State.
“Now I no longer live in our clear, rational world; I live in the ancient nightmare world, the world of square roots of minus one.”
Zamyatin's characters try to go against the great tide, try to resist the State. As a result, at least for a short while, his protagonist gets diagnosed with a serious medical condition - developing a soul. But, fittingly for a dystopia, there is no happy ending - just a reader's faint hope that for some of them not all is lost.
I read this book in its original Russian, so I really cannot comment on the quality of translation. In Russian, the writing is superb and the narrative voice is unique and fascinating - exaltingly, sickeningly cheerful at the beginning and growing more and more confused as the story progresses. I can only hope that the translations managed to capture at least some of that. 5 stars.
Profile Image for Jim Fonseca.
1,079 reviews6,894 followers
December 18, 2022
[Edited 12/18/22]

This is a classic Russian science-fiction dystopian novel published in 1924 that influenced many subsequent books such as 1984 and Brave New World, and authors such as Kurt Vonnegut and Ayn Rand. According to Wiki “We is generally considered to be the grandfather of the satirical futuristic dystopia genre.”


The book had to be published outside of the USSR because under Stalin the author ended up first imprisoned, and later exiled to France. In an Introduction, Foreword and Preface we are told that the book emphasizes the “insidious pressures for conformity” in the new Russia.

People of the United State are called ‘Numbers,’ which they all wear on the chests of their 'unifs' as they walk around four abreast. They all wake up at the same time and leave work at the same time. They have a ‘personal hour’ and sexual days. They live in high-rise glass cubicles, with curtains.

They attend compulsory meetings in auditoriums where they sing hymns to the state and hear from the ‘Well-Dooer’ on a big screen. They have to vote for him each year on the Day of Unanimity.

Everyone eats petroleum-based food. Rare resisters are punished by the offender being placed in a machine that dissolves him into water. A ‘Green Wall’ separates the urban area from the remaining wild world outside.

The main character is an engineer involved in building a spaceship to conquer other planets. He finds a lover who is involved with a small group of potential rebels. But ‘lover’ is a bad word because the system does not allow love or permanent pairings – just hookups.

A corrupt doctor gives the man and his alcohol and nicotine and they find a secret way of getting to the outside world beyond the wall. The main character starts thinking about his soul and about having a child. The rebellion may be spreading but at the same time, the state is introducing a new required lobotomy-type operation to nip this in the bud.


Why a rating of 3? This book has been in my TBR for years but I’ll be honest and say I’m not a fan of sci-fi or dystopian novels. The author uses math terms in symbolic ways that don’t help the story along. The dialog seemed herky-jerky to me at times and some of the plot I thought was confusing. Still I’m glad I read it!

Top image: Le Corbusier’s 1924 plan for Paris envisaged razing the city from Montmartre to the
Seine to build 18 giant skyscrapers. From thetimes.co.uk
Sketch of the author from Wikipedia
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.3k followers
May 12, 2019

Let’s play “Guess That Groundbreaking Novel”!

Question: A party functionary who is recording his experiences in a journal lives in a future fascist society which maintains its solidarity by compulsory attendance at public events dominated by a remote, all-powerful leader. He meets a woman, a secret rebel who expresses her revolutionary impulses through her sexuality, and the two of them carry on an affair in room in an old house which symbolizes what life was like in the days before the new society. The man becomes a revolutionary too, but still has doubts, and, after undergoing a mind-violating experience, betrays his lover and the revolution too. Guess that groundbreaking novel!

Answer: George Orwell’s 1984?

Response: Close. But not exactly groundbreaking. The proper answer is Yevgeny Zyamatin’s We. We was published in English in 1924, and reviewed by Orwell in the Tribune Magazine in 1946; 1984 was not published until 1949.

Yes, it is Zyamatin not Orwell who has the honor of being a groundbreaking dystopian novelist. (As well as the “honor” of being one of the first soviet dissidents. His novel could only be published abroad, and he was soon forced into exile.) Still, Orwell’s novel is clearly superior to Zyamatin’s.

We, unlike 1984, is an honest-to-god science fiction novel, complete with an honest-to-god rocket ship, futuristic buildings, and experimental brain operations. Because of this, it has a charm the Orwell novel lacks, for 1984 is essentially a bleak, clear-eyed vision set in a shabbier version of post-war Britain (plus the totalitarian, of course). Where We fails is precisely where 1984most succeeds: in its treatment of language itself and its effects on pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary consciousness (which in We's case is synonumous with the before and after of love).

The hero of We is a builder of rocket ships, and a typical man of his society. He thinks of everything in terms of logic, quantifiers and physical entities, and his metaphors are filled with numbers and geometrical shapes. Only later, when his heart is touched by sexual passion, does he speak a language more like ours, touched by emotion and the beauties of our natural world. This is all fine in theory, but it results in a prose--at least in the two translations I used--which is often odd and alienating, and sometimes completely baffling. Unfortunately, when our hero falls in love, his language becomes filled with cliché, and it is difficult to distinguish his revolutionary sentiments from the sentimental outpourings of a second-rate romance novel. The novel buckles under its burden of language, and that is why the plot of We (which thankgoodness Orwell stole and turned into a classic) is more interesting than the novel itself.
Profile Image for Luís.
1,827 reviews478 followers
February 13, 2023
It is a dystopia novel, one of the very first (1923), and which has not aged a bit, it would have inspired George Orwell for 1984. I read it in this new translation, which is undoubtedly more modern, lively, sometimes funny, and told in the present tense. The title is "We," whereas, in the old translation, it was "We others." Already the title is more peremptory, direct, and, in my opinion, more accurate. The writing is beautiful, refined, sometimes abrupt, not always easy, but fitting perfectly with the main character's thought, lost in his contradictory reflections, writing full of images with a jerky rhythm, which follows the thread of the thought, a thought that gets lost. It is a great success, the description of a logical, cold, mathematical, unified reflection, without nuances which had confronted with a more ethereal, poetic, fanciful thought inside the very mind of our character. , D-503. language is of paramount importance in this story. This novel criticizes Stalinist communism, the single thought, and capitalist Taylorism. The Science-fiction aspect is then only a pretext, a medium to bring its ideas. He did it with great subtlety. The author manages to put himself on the other side. The poetic soul, the dream, would only be a dangerous illness that must treat.
This novel transported me and surprised me. But first, we'll have to make room for my desert island.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
November 19, 2021
(Book 707 from 1001 books) - Мы = We, Yevgeny Zamyatin

We, is 1924 dystonia novel by Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin. The novel describes a world of harmony and conformity within a united totalitarian state.

We is set in the future. D-503, a spacecraft engineer, lives in the One State, an urban nation constructed almost entirely of glass, which assists mass surveillance.

The structure of the state is Panopticon-like, and life is scientifically managed F. W. Taylor-style.

People march in step with each other and are uniformed. There is no way of referring to people except by their given numbers.

The society is run strictly by logic or reason as the primary justification for the laws or the construct of the society.

The individual's behavior is based on logic by way of formulas and equations outlined by the One State.

ما - یوگنی زامیاتین (نشر دیگر) ادبیات روسیه، علمی تخیلی؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: چهاردهم ماه می سال2012میلادی

عنوان: ما؛ نویسنده: یوگنی زامیاتین (سامیاتین)؛ مترجم: بهروز مشیری؛ تهران، نشر دیگر؛ سال1352، در220ص؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان روسیه - سده20م

عنوان: ما؛ نویسنده: یوگنی زامیاتین (سامیاتین)؛مترجم: انوشیروان دولتشاهی؛ تهران، نشر دیگر، سال1379، در266ص؛ شابک ایکس-964718803؛

عنوان: ما؛ نویسنده: یونگی زامیاتین؛ مترجم بابک شهاب؛ ویراستار مریم فرنام؛ تهران، بیدگل، سال1399؛ در419ص؛ شابک9786226863483؛

د‌استان «ما»، تصویری از روح پیچید‌ه‌ ی انسان، د‌ر رویارویی و گیر و گرفت، با نمادهای «قد‌رت»‌ است؛ د‌استان از د‌ید‌گاه اول شخص، و به شکل «چهل یاد‌د‌اشت» بیان می‌شود‌؛ د‌ر کشوری تخیلی، به نام «یکتاکشور»،‌ کشوری که د‌ورتاد‌ورش را د‌یواری شیشه‌ ای، در بر گرفته است، و د‌ارای خیابان‌ها، و کوچه‌ هایی کاملاً هموار است، با آپارتمان‌هایی، که آن‌ها نیز، با د‌یوارهایی شیشه‌ ای، پوشید‌ه شد‌ه‌ اند‌؛ محافظان، به واسطه‌ ی همین د‌یوارهاست که می‌توانند‌، امور مملکت را، زیر کنترل خود د‌اشته باشند‌

یوگنی زامیاتین، نویسنده برجسته ی «روسیه» رمان «ما» را، در سال‌های پر التهاب، پس از «انقلاب روسیه»، بنگاشتند؛ یعنی در سال‌های شکل‌گیری نظام توتالیتر «شوروی (پیشین)»؛ رمان برای انتقاد از نظام بسته ی «شوروی»، در آن کشور اجازه چاپ نیافت، ولی به چندین زبان در خارج از کشور منتشر شد؛ زامیاتین در «ما» دنیایی را به تصویر می‌کشند، که مردمانش در آنجا، نه با نام، که با شماره و حرف (حرف مصوت برای زنان و حرف صامت برای مردان) خوانده می‌شوند؛ آنان در شهری شیشه‌ ای، و غرق در نور، در خانه‌ های مکعب شکل به ه�� چسبیده، به سر می‌برند؛ برنامه ی زندگی روزانه‌ شان پیشاپیش تعیین، و در جدول ساعات، جزئی‌ترین کارها مشخص گردیده اند؛ در این ناکجاآباد، میلیون‌ها نفر همچون تنی واحد، از خواب برمی‌خیزند؛ همسان غذا می‌خورند، و هر لقمه را طبق تجویز جدول ساعات، پنجاه بار می‌جوند، و فرو می‌دهند؛ در لحظه‌ ای معین همچون تنی واحد به سر کار می‌روند، و باز می‌گردند، در برنامه راه‌پیمایی شرکت می‌جویند، برای آموزش در تالارهای اجتماعات حاضر می‌شوند، و بالاخره می‌خوابند؛ روابط جنسی بر مبنای ریاضیات، و آزمایش‌های پزشکی تنظیم شده، و «کوپنی» است؛ نگاهبانان از دیوارهای شیشه‌ ای خانه‌ ها، تمام حرکات و سکنات افراد را زیر دید دارند، تا مبادا با خودرایی، از معیارهای جدول ساعات، عدول ورزند، و سعادتشان به خطر افتد؛ بدین ترتیب، این رمان به گونه‌ ای حیرت‌ انگیز، از اندیشه ی حاکم و آینده کشور نویسنده، خبر می‌دهد؛ باورهای «زامیاتین» به بهترین نحو از زبان قهرمان زن داستان بیان می‌شود: (انقلاب نهایی در کار نیست، انقلاب‌ها نامحدودند...؛ نمی‌خواهم کسی به جای من بخواهد من می‌خواهم خودم بخواهم)؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 10/10/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 27/08/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Lisa.
974 reviews3,328 followers
August 5, 2017
The prototype of dystopian fiction - a vivisection of monolithic faith and cruelty in the name of “We”!

Dystopian science fiction never analyses the future, even though it is the supposed topic of the novel. It looks at the past, and follows the road that humanity has already embarked on, to its logical next step. When Zamyatin wrote “We”, the society he knew was rapidly changing, breaking apart, one authoritarian structure was being replaced with another, through the means of a violent clash, a revolution, supported by a technological jump to modernity, delivering tools to control ideology through mass propaganda and effective weapons.

What triggers revolutions? What makes human beings accept authority? What defines collective and individual identity? How does power make use of human needs to control society? All these questions are raised in the voice of a member of a monolithic state, OneState, a futuristic powerhouse that has managed to create a system that guides its citizens towards collective sameness. The community of “We” is protected from the outer world - the freedom of choice - by a great Green Wall. Yes! A wall!

Ever since the beginning of time - and in Zamyatin’s traditional mythological context, that means since the beginning of Christian tales in the paradise of the all-powerful, authoritarian god - a wall has protected the collective in possession of truth from the evil of freedom, or diversity. According to OneState’s dogma, Adam and Eve were stupid to choose freedom over “happiness”, and since they were expelled from the beautifully walled-in paradise, (Christian fundamentalist) believers in monolithic conformity have strived to re-establish the chains that deliver complete safety, which is falsely labelled “happiness”.

In the automatised, regulated OneState, this “utopian” idea of a new paradise is accomplished, and everything is done according to the collective need, in complete disregard of personal identity and emotions. Sexuality is regulated to the point of absurdity, and each individual follows a strict schedule for the benefit of the superior Benefactor, who is the authoritarian leader or monotheistic god of OneState.

There are cracks in the wall, though, as people still think and feel. Even though it is supposedly illegal, a precursor to Orwell’s idea of thoughtcrime, free will is not completely suppressed, and there is resistance. The enemies of happiness, no less! In the narrator’s character, the two concepts clash. Submission under authoritarian dictatorship stands against humanity’s longing for freedom of choice, for genuine love, for diverse experience. In the chilling end, the state has found a solution to make individuality obsolete: an “Operation” to remove imagination from the human brain.

The outlook on the world therefore is bleaker than anything I have read so far: not only brainwashed with propaganda and scared into submission by external enemies and fear of punishment, but biologically reduced to prehuman thinking capacity, the world has become inhuman. And thus a paradise for an authoritarian godlike leader. “We” believe in “Him” as soon as our imagination is no longer threatening to make us to see two sides of the story, alternatives, a plurality of choices, equally possible and justified.

This scares me more than anything else, for it touches on the fundamental need of human beings to conform in groups, to cruelly suppress individual longing in order to function as an unthinking mob, as witnessed over and over again in the 20th century, in One Party (or One Religion) states around the world. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century describes the unfolding of Zamyatin’s dystopia with almost perfect accuracy.

It also emphasises the fact that monotheistic belief is not compatible with a pluralistic, tolerant society if if is in power. As it relies on a concept of itself as a saving truth, it will never be able to fully accept a pluralistic worldview. The danger of losing its followers to any other lifestyle is too great. The walls of the world are built to keep followers of certain dogmas (political or religious) in order, out of touch with freedom and choice, as well as separated from an overarching, comparative education that opens up perspectives rather than spreading populist slogans of “truth”.

There is no happiness in paradise, is the lesson I learned from this novel. If you can’t choose, you are not fully human. Sheep are not happy, regardless of how well the shepherd guides them. They do not understand the concept of happiness as they cannot think in abstract terms. Be a sheep in paradise, or a human beyond the wall! That’s the choice. And being a human involves many different scenarios that cannot be regulated. It will sometimes include pain and chaos, and certainly unhappiness, which is the only means to even grasp the idea of happiness.

To deal with freedom in a responsible way without hurting others, that is the challenge of democracy. It is vulnerable, as godlike populists use ancient shepherd methods to gather their sheep and lock them into paradise, - but it is possible to resist the urge to conform in order to feel safe. Carrying out routines prescribed by authority is a soothing medicine for sheeplike nonthinkers, but it does not really make humanity more safe. It is an illusion: like planning next week’s regulated work schedule while you are sitting on a plane that is about to crash, as the narrator puts it. Knowing what is going on gives you a choice. But for the narrator, it is too late, a temporary new wall is already being erected around him, and his imagination is removed.

There is always hope, however. After all, Zamyatin thought, and created, and imagined, and wrote this masterpiece in the middle of Armageddon! And it survived several waves of religious (political) fundamentalist rule.

Recommended to all people who believe that you can learn more from books than from sheep, as opposed to the wisdom of The Alchemist!
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,854 reviews16.4k followers
October 17, 2017
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin is a must read for fans and students of the Dystopian genre.

Published in 1920, before Brave New World and well before 1984 (which could even be considered a second generation 1984 as Orwell began his seminal work after reading a French translation of We) Zamyatin’s vision is well before his time.

Writing in response to his experiences with the Bolsheviks but without a direct link to the communists, We takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where pockets of “civilized” humanity survive in a totalitarian state. We, however, is not timeless as Huxley’s and Orwell’s works may be. Perhaps some of his original meanings have been lost in the cultural and generational translations as well as from the original Russian, We can be a difficult story to follow and lacks some of the malevolent charm and suspense of the more recognized works.

The glass house is at once a statement about the loss of individualism and privacy and also a metaphor for socialism that Pasternak would poetically describe years later.

Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
October 17, 2014
- If it was utterly up to me, I'd actually think about classing this more as a "utopia" rather than a "dystopia" understanding that they're ultimately the same thing.
- Living in glass houses is the most terrifying part of this novel.
- I-330 is basically a manic pixie dream girl.
- The commentary on the Russian Revolution and Socialism are heavy, bro.
- Zamyatin had a FASCINATING life that very much influences this book.
- The writing style wasn't my thing. It was by no means bad, but it just wasn't my thing.

On Comparing it to 1984:
- So, the deal is that George Orwell absolutely admits that his book was inspired by this book, and any person who has read them both will know that this is undoubtedly true. Here are some of my observations.
- We is more about Humanity, and 1984 is more about Politics.
- The stakes feel higher in 1984.
- I might be biased (I'm definitely biased) but Orwell improved on certain things (Room 101, general feelings of unrest, the book line).
- One of the best parts of 1984 is when Winston becomes a traitorous bastard, and we didn't see that to the same extent in this novel.
- The best part of 1984 is the last line, and this last line was good but not as good.

You should read this, srs.
Profile Image for Fabian.
940 reviews1,546 followers
January 17, 2020
Sci-fi's in my top 3 least favorite fiction genres. However, this one is thankfully not Brave New World, has traces of madness and poetry both, and possesses the Waltmanesque quality of being organic, though the theme of Dystopian Machinery should be inevitably super-structured. The protagonist's POV is impressive. As builder of a space ship that will provide aliens (or: us) with an account of the glass metropolis (see: communism), he transitions from zombie troglodyte to someone infected with a "soul." This was one of the "landmark" classics of science fiction, and along with the aforementioned "World" (sorry, just not a fan) & 1984 (haven't read it) makes up a celebrated trilogy.

The protagonist becomes human & his confusion infuses the work with a sense of wonderment, of a certain etherealness. There are events that both the reader and the hero do not fully understand, and this is my favorite thing about this work. Some things are overexplained, others oversimplified. That nouns are described geometrically and in terms of mathematics is quite a unique interpretation of the fall of a machine society. Well beyond its time, this is tellingly an important brick in the wall of the Global Lit/ Sci-Fi fortress.
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
451 reviews3,229 followers
January 21, 2022
A city of glass 1,000 years in the future, domed, with a green wall to keep out all the undesirable, primitive life forms. Animal, human, vegetable or insect...A clean and sparkling place for its millions of citizens, everything and everyone has a schedule, the perfect "One State". No privacy, people have numbers for names they dress (light blue uniforms) , and eat the same food, live in small sparse apartments, which are transparent. No drinking or smoking, even sex regulated by yes an appointment. Regular daily walks, pep talks at auditoriums to keep all motivated. Thousands sing and listen to the sacred words they have heard countless times before. Guardians to help the "Benefactor's" rules be followed, timetables are enforced! Any deviations are rigorously crushed, D-503 is the chief in charge, of building the spaceship Integral, now the perfect society can conquer space, soon bringing happiness and order to a chaotic universe. D-503, has a regular sex partner 0-90, but she falls in love with the mathematician, the State doesn't approve emotional entanglements. It causes disorder in a strict culture, no more conflicts. The blue planet, was devastated after the 200 - year - long war, 99% of the population died. Then he sees 1-330, a Will -o'-the- Wisp forever coming and going, befuddling D-503. He can never differentiate reality from a mirage when she's around, a brilliant man...when he returns to Earth. Love reduces people to silliness, misery and sometimes a little euphoria but there is something strange going on, a secret, she has an agenda. His best friend R-13, is somehow connected, the poet is full of big dreams, what ? Mad Revolution unthinkable, "Unfreedom" is paradise, D-503 is scared ... He is taken by her amazingly outside the walls, he feels naked, uncomfortable . Seeing crawling things, always moving about in the frightening and unknown green environment, is the vegetation very unhealthy ? Yellow fruit which D-503 recognized, from ancient books in old museums. The hot sun shining down, nothing to regulate it here, humans too dressed unalike ... Weird, they don't look any different from us. The wise man is drawn deeper into a plot, he just can't say no to the beautiful, 1-330. Causing much turbulence between he and dear, jealous 0-90 yet he is being watched closely by the Guardians. Does he risk torture and death for the woman he loves, who may just be using D-503 for her own, personal ambitions? However the builder is a romantic at heart, in a civilization that doesn't believe or tolerate such nonsense. What will it be a bland but safe existence, all the worries taken care of by the suffocating, inhuman State. Not a very fulfilling or exciting prospect, maybe an unfamiliar, perilous world ... And Birds are seen inside the city ...
Profile Image for Orhan Pelinkovic.
86 reviews150 followers
March 19, 2021
This book is a work of art and my first five-star read this year. While consuming every word and savoring each page I've noticed my pencil's point vanish by the end of the first few chapters.

We (1920) is written by the Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937) who was a one of the first Soviet dissidents and whose We earned the title as the first book to be banned by the Soviet censorship board.

The premise of the story takes place several hundred years in the future. In which the protagonist, a mathematician and engineer, is developing a spaceship for his 'One State' government. The space mission's purpose is to conquer the extraterrestrial planets and impose on its inhabitants the One State system of government that is exclusively dictated by rationalism.

The characters in the story are nameless. But they are all assigned a number; something that resembles a serial number: for the male characters they start with a consonant followed by a rigid prime number, and for the female characters they begin with a vowel attached to a beautifully rounded even number.

The entire One State is made of transparent glass structures dominated by curveless geometry and enclosed by a green wall. The people live by a predetermined daily schedule, outlined by the authority, which is precisely defined by an almost perfect equation with barely any unknown variables. Everyone is under constant surveillance by the Benefactor and his "guardian angels" for the benefit of the We, rather than the I.

Every citizen's life is a mechanical one; dreamless and devoid of passion. Any involvement in asymmetrical art, music or poetry is punishable by execution. The only melody permitted is the one in tune with the mathematical notes.

The State has to approve for everyone a brief visits by their partner, where the State usually assigns two or three companions for each person all for the sake of mimicking a triangle or square. During the protagonist's short impersonal walk with his assigned companion, he spontaneously meets another, free-spirited woman, with whom he becomes infatuated with and eventually falls in love. This leads him to develops a sense of self-awareness, and as a result, he is diagnosed by the State's doctor with a terrible illness; the birth of a soul. What will happen to the space mission? What’s behind the green wall? Will his "illness" ever be cured and will his love endure it all?

This compelling read is a fusion of dystopian science fiction and political satire with religion root metaphors. It reads like a poetic prose with beautifully crafted expressions, with the right dose of sarcasm, and Zamyatin's unfinished sentences that leave you wondering...
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,828 reviews651 followers
August 14, 2022
One of the most original works of dystopian fiction ever...a template for works that are much more famous. When conformity is used as a means of social control then individuality must become a crime. The plot of We is quite complex; but the core of the book revoles around D-503, a spacecraft engineer, discovering that he no longer wants to confirm to societies expectations. He risks everything to try to discover who he really is, beyond the number he has been given. While I like 1984 much more I still appreciate this lesser known classic.
Profile Image for Issa Deerbany.
374 reviews401 followers
April 19, 2018
هل يمكن ان نصل الى زمن يكون مرضك "النفس" ان تصبح تشعر بالجمال والحب والطبيعة وتتخلى عن المدينة الواحدة والذي يقودها المحسن وبعد ان تتحول الى مجرد رقم في هذه الدولة.

فالبشر كالآلات يتحركون بانتظام ويتوقفون عندا لطلب ويتحركون بالشارع بوقت واحد وبلباس واحد ويستخدمون نفس المواصلات ويهتفون لنفس المحسن ولا يتحدثون فيما بينهم. فالكل مراقب والنفس محسوب عليك .

نحن ارقام في هذا العالم ، نحن الاَلات ونصنع الاَلات لتسيطر على حياتنا اكثر وشكرا للمحسن الذي انعم علينا بهذه الحياة الرغيدة. اَي جمال في السماء والاشجار ورائحة الأزهار والنباتات فهي شيء قديم لاناس عاشوا في عصور غابرة.

رواية قاتمة لمستقبل بشري مخيف
Profile Image for William2.
737 reviews2,883 followers
August 1, 2016
Zamyatin's theme here is the impossibility of being fully human in totalitarian society. His future is not technologically superior. It contains little of what we'd call high-tech. This is still very much the age of steam. The story seems both forward-looking and dated, almost paradoxically so. The mood it inspires is rather like that of Fritz Lang's classic Metropolis. I liked that. It was like finding this artefact of world lit. Another piece in the long history of dystopias—and one that influenced George Orwell. But We is worth reading for more than historical reasons. In Cormac McCarthy's The Road we are in a post-apocalyptic thus post-technology future. In We science is very much at the service of OneState. Thanks to "our glass," with its steel-like properties, buildings are completely transparent, so one can see everything everyone else does. Except during sex when one can lower one's blinds, with prior authorization of course. The fictional patterning is admirable throughout, but there are inconsistencies of logic. For instance, the spy agency of OneState known as the Guardians seems inanely feeble in comparison to, say, the efficient quasi-Stasi of 1984. But then Orwell was writing more than 25 years later when advanced ideas like television were in the air. For D-503 everything is fine and dandy. He begins by being a rather tiresome booster of OneState. He's happy sharing O-90's favors with R-13. He's happy with his work on the INTEGRAL which is some sort of missile, time-capsule affair destined for other civilizations on other planets. (Later, when it flew, I was assailed by mental footage of Buck Rodgers' low-tech rocket jiggled on fishing line before the camera.) Everything is fine with D-503 until he falls passionately in love with I-330, who is both beautiful and a willful transgressor of state laws. She's a revolutionary. I-330 is constantly gaming the system. And because D-503 is insanely in love with her, he's drawn into her crimes for which death appears to be the only possible punishment. There are a number of disconnected images, scenes that don't quite fit with the otherwise lucid patterning of the novel. It's as if the book never made it through it's final draft. But I, ordinarily so unforgiving, was willing to live with that. After all it's an artefact. If you're seeking perfection this is not your novel.
Profile Image for Tim.
471 reviews595 followers
May 11, 2021
I've actually read this book before. It's an excellent classic science fiction work that no doubt inspired many writers. Initially published in 1920, "We" came before both George Orwell and Alduous Huxley (and I would personally argue is better than Huxley's book). It's a lesser known work, but an extremely powerful one. I honestly don't have much more to say on the book itself.

So why am I reviewing it? Because I got a chance to read Bela Shayevich's new translation for free before its release in November. What do I think of this new translation? It's delightful. Very readable, well done, captures the emotions better than Clarence Brown's (the only other translation I have read) and is overall wonderful. The sarcasm and irony truly shine here... and yes, I find it a significant improvement to what was already an amazing read.

Should you read this book? Absolutely. This is a classic of both Russian literature and science fiction. It's a gem of a book that sadly goes unnoticed far too much. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up if you want to read an amazing early dystopian novel. 5/5 stars

My thanks to Netgalley and Ecco for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Fernando.
676 reviews1,068 followers
February 7, 2023
"El hombre dejó de ser un animal salvaje sólo cuando construyó el primer Muro. Cuando nosotros construimos este muro verde, aislamos nuestro mundo mecanizado del mundo irracional y monstruoso de los árboles, de los pájaros, de los animales...."

Siempre hay un escritor pionero, un fundador, alguien que instala un género literario y al que otros grandes autores siguen, copian o admiran.
En este caso hablamos de Evgeny Zamiatin quien en 1924 escribe lo que se conoce como la primer distopía de la literatura. Inconscientemente siempre creí que "Un mundo feliz" de Aldous Huxley y "1984" de George Orwell eran las primeras, pero no.
"Nosotros" fue la distopía que influyó directamente a Orwell a escribir "1984" y aseguran que le brindó ciertas herramientas a Huxley para su propia novela "Un mundo feliz" y el mismo Orwell, luego de leer la traducción francesa hizo una excelente crítica y comenzó a escribir la suya hacia 1948.
Este libro reaccionario de Zamiatin contra el comunismo, Stalin y ese concepto equivocadísimo que instalaron de que "El Estado es Dios" hizo que para Zamiatin se transformara en un auténtico dolor de cabeza y sufriera, al igual que su colega Mijaíl Bulgákov que fuera perseguido y censurado y que ambos escritores le enviaran cartas a Stalin pidiéndole clemencia y la posibilidad de emigrar de la Unión Soviética.
Es que habían cometido el error de "rebelarse" contra el sistema; ese absurdo, obsoleto y detestable sistema comunista que mantuvo sometido al pueblo ruso durante tantas décadas.
En la novela ambientada en el futuro, todos los ciudadanos, al igual que en "1984", viven bajo un férreo control estatal denominado "Estado Único" como en la Oceanía de la novela de Orwell, supuestamente protegidos por un muro de cristal y al "amparo" del "Benefactor", que equivale al famoso "Gran Hermano" de la novela de Orwell o al semi dios Ford de "Un mundo feliz".
Con esto no quiero afirmar que Orwell o Huxley hayan plagiado el libro de Zamiatin sino que a mi entender, perfeccionaron lo que Zamiatin había denunciado en su momento.
Es indudable las similitudes entre estas tres novelas, tanto en las características del ambiente en que viven como de las instituciones y los métodos de control que se aplican sobre la población.
En el caso de esta novela, los personajes no tienen nombres sino códigos, tal es el caso de quien narra su propio diario, me refiero a D-503, de O-90 que es la primera pareja de D-503 y fundamentalmente de I-330, una hermosa mujer que se enamora de D-503, algo parecida a la Julia de "1984" y que forma parte de una revolución subversiva para derrocar al Benefactor.
Según lo impuesto por el Estado Único, la libertad es sinónimo de estado salvaje y de esta manera es como controla a la población quien acepta -como en el caso de "Un mundo feliz"- la comodidad que se les ofrece. El "yo" ha dejado lugar al "nosotros", contribuyendo la deshumanización de los habitantes del Estado Único.
Tienen pocos privilegios como "Las horas personales de la tabla" y una asignación para "encuentros sexuales vigilados" que equivalen al famoso "Minuto del odio" de "1984" y algunos pocos beneficios más. Después, solo saben trabajar y ser dominados como ovejas.
D-503 es el constructor del "Integral", un cohete espacial con el que el Estado único planea conquistar otros mundos y dentro de todo este contexto comienza a desarrollarse la historia.
Debo reconocer que me encontré con cierta complicación:
el modo en que Zamiatin narra el diario es de una forma realmente intrincada. Su prosa es críptica, poética, hermética, con frases que quedan inconclusas y creo que después de la jerga "nadsat" utilizada por Anthony Burguess en "La naranja mecánica" es de esas lecturas qué más necesitaron de mi atención para entender lo narrado.
De hecho, Zamiatin se vale en demasía de dos recursos literarios como lo son la metáfora y la metonimia para describir todo aquello que D-503 ve o percibe. El narrador se expresa como si fuera un logaritmo, una especie de autómata con código lingüístico propio.
Dentro del Estado Único nos encontramos con la "Oficina de los Guardianes", que se asemejan a los Ministerios de la Paz, Amor, Abundancia y Verdad que dominan la Inglaterra de "1984".
Todos estos sistemas de abuso burocrático hechos para vigilar y castigar lograrán torciendo a los pocos ciudadanos que se revelan al sistema -y recuerdo a Morphius y Trinity de la primer Matrix- para generar una filtración, una anomalía, una fisura dentro de la hermeticidad y supuesta perfección y conformismo del Estado Único y así forzar la posibilidad de un foco sedicioso que quiebre al sistema.
Es indudable el coraje que tuvo Zamiatin para escribir la novela en plena fiebre roja del comunismo, lo que le valió que lo encarcelaran por segunda vez, ya que también había estado preso durante las épocas del último zarismo, pero a la vez posibilitó que otros escritores como los nombrados aquí junto con Ray Bradbury y Margaret Atwood alzaran la voz y a través de la literatura nos enviaran sendos mensajes de advertencia de lo que está mal y especialmente de todo aquello a lo que sabemos que no deberíamos volver nunca más.
Profile Image for Mohammad Hrabal.
256 reviews176 followers
May 3, 2021
اگر هر کدام از کتاب‌های 1984 و دنیای قشنگ نو (و حتی میرا) را خوانده‌اید و دوستشان داشته‌اید این کتاب را هم بخوانید. در صورتی که هر سه را خوانده اید به کتاب ادبیات و انقلاب (نویسندگان روس)؛ یورگن روله ترجمه علی اصغر حداد، صفحات 73 تا 85 مراجعه کنید و بخش جالبی را درباره ی زامیاتین و مقایسه ی مختصر سه کتاب با هم، مطالعه کنید
"انسان روزی از بوزینگی دست کشید که اولین کتاب منتشر شد. بوزینگان هرگز این تحقیر را فراموش نکرده‌اند: کافی است کتابی به دست بوزینه‌ای بدهید، فوری آن را کثیف، خراب و پاره پاره خواهد کرد." از پیشگفتار زامیاتین بر کتابی منتشر نشده. مقدمه‌ی مترجم ایرانی. ص 9 کتاب
زامیاتین ضعف دستگاه را در برابر مردم می‌دید که در آن دیگر نه کاری از دست جراحان مغز بر می‌آید و نه از دست به گفته‌ی استالین "مهندسان روح مردم". زامیاتین نشان می‌دهد که سرانجام تکنسین، پزشک، شاعر و حتی مأمور امنیتی این دولت، علیه آن‌اند. مقدمه‌ی مترجم ایرانی. ص 11 کتاب
امروزه در پایان هزاره‌ی دوم میلادی نیکوکاران{حاکم یکتاکشور} شناخته شده دنیا هر کدام به‌نوعی، می‌خواهند با تحمیل سعادت به شهروندان خود به صدور آن نیز بپردازند. انتگرال‌ها {سفینه فضایی و موشک}، سعادت و دموکراسی را به این سو و آن سوی جهان می‌برند. اما خوشبختانه هنوز هستند وحشیانی که می‌خواهند خودشان برای خود بخواهند و سعادت "نیکوکارفرموده" را به پشیزی نمی‌گیرند. خوشبختانه هنوز هستند آزاداندیشانی که در مقابل نیکوکاران راست قامتانه می‌ایستند و خاطر خطیرشان را آشفته می‌سازند و طلسم قدرتشان را در هم می‌شکنند. مقدمه‌ی مترجم ایرانی. ص 12 کتاب
زامیاتین بی‌رحمانه توتالیتاریسم در حال نضج را، تملق‌های حقارت بار آن را، سلطه‌ی ستمگرانه‌اش را، بی‌حرمتی و نابودسازی روح خلاق و آزاد بشری آن را به باد حمله و مسخره می‌گرفت. پیشاپیش همه‌ی آن‌ها را می‌دید: وحشت را، خیانت‌ها را، زدودن صفات انسانی را، پاسداران همه جا حاضر را، شست و شوی مغزی دائم را که نتیجه‌اش یا آدم‌های ماشین‌وار بود، یا منافقانی که برای خاطر بقا دروغ می‌گفتند. "معرفی"، مترجم انگلیسی، میرا گنسبرگ. ص 22 کتاب
آیا بدیهی نیست که سعادت و حسادت، صورت و مخرج کسری هستند به نام رضایت؟ ص 48 کتاب
نیاکان ما می‌دانستند که خدا- بزرگوارترین شکاک بی‌حوصله‌شان- آن جا بود. ما می‌دانیم که آنجا چیزی نیست جز عدم برهنه‌ی بی‌حیای شفاف آبی. اما حالا نمی‌دانیم آنجا چیست: خیلی چیزها آموخته‌ام. دانشی که خطاناپذیری آن مسلم باشد، ایمان است. ص 86 کتاب
مرگ به معنای دقیق کلمه، کامل‌ترین انحلال نفس در کائنات است. بنابراین اگر حرف L را برای عشق و حرف D را برای مرگ در نظر بگیریم: L=f(D) می‌شود. به عبارتی دیگر عشق تابعی از مرگ است... ص 160 کتاب
بدیهی است که انتخابات "روز وحدت کلمه" اصلاً شباهتی به انتخابات بی‌نظم و تشکل نیاکانمان ندارد، با انتخاباتی که در آن- گفتنش هم مسخره است- نتایج پیشاپیش معلوم نبود. بی‌معنی تر از این هم می‌شود: تشکیل دولت بر مبنای احتمالات کاملاً پیش‌بینی نشدنی، کورکورانه؟... نیازی به گفتن نیست که در این مورد، مثل سایر موارد، بین ما جایی برای احتمالات، برای وقوع حوادث نامنتظر، وجود ندارد. و انتخابات فی نفسه بیشتر مفهومی سمبولیک دارد، یعنی به ما یادآور می‌شود که ما تنها ارگانیسم قدرتمند میلیون یاخته‌ای هستیم... ما مراسم انتخابات را علنی، صادقانه، در روز روشن برگزار می‌کنیم، من همه را می‌بینم که به "نیکوکار" رأی می‌دهند، همه مرا می‌بینند که به "نیکوکار" رأی می‌دهم. در واقع غیر از این چه می‌توانست باشد، چون "همه" و "من" یک "ما" هستیم. صفحات 162 و 163 کتاب
کسی چه می‌داند؟ آدم مثل رمان است: تا آخرین صفحه، پایان کار معلوم نیست. در غیر این صورت ارزش خواندن نخواهد داشت... ص 187 کتاب
پس چطور ممکن است انقلاب آخرین وجود داشته باشد؟ انقلابی آخرین وجود ندارد؛ انقلاب‌ها نامتناهی‌اند. ص 199 کتاب
"می‌دانم که عادت بسیار نابه‌جای سخن گفتن از آنچه دارم که آن را حقیقت می‌دانم تا سخن گفتن از آنچه می‌تواند مثلاً در این لحظه به مصلحت باشد. به بیان دقیق‌تر هرگز نظرم را نسبت به نوکر صفتی ادبیات، چاپلوسی و رنگ عوض کردن بوقلمون صفتانه پنهان نداشته‌ام: پنداشته‌ام- و هنوز هم می‌پندارم- که این کار هم خوارشماری نویسنده است و هم انقلاب." نامه‌ی زامیاتین به استالین. ص 261 کتاب
Profile Image for David.
161 reviews1,427 followers
April 8, 2012
Well, I can see why We by Yevgeny Zamyatin was 'problematic' for the Soviet regime. It unequivocally debunks the utopian collective ideal. Communism (in practice, if not in theory) demands each of its fellow-travelers to exist on a purely atomic level. Good, responsible communists are mere corpuscles in a bland, unfulfilling social body. Sure, economic equality seems like a nice ideal, right? A cute ideal, even? But aside from being virtually impracticable (because humans will always be human), however, it becomes a nightmare when individuals are forced to relinquish their selfhood at the altar of the purely collective.

The religiosity of communism has always embarrassed me. All these puffed-up intellectuals imagining they've thrown off the weight of myth and simplistic, primitive 'gods' when they've only invented a new one—all the more absurd for its rationalist pretensions. Call me a decadent bourgeois if you wish, but I am unwilling to give up my individualism—yes, including my selfishness!—for the sake of some theoretical, neutered society—an always-deferred happiness that resembles heaven to an almost satirical extent.

Zamyatin pulls no punches in dealing with these blind spots of Soviet totalitarianism. (And please don't infer that my condemnation of the Soviet model implies a wildly enthusiastic endorsement of the American model. America needs its own satires.) The narrative centers on a social cog named D-503 in some distant future who struggles to maintain his naive faith in the new hypercollective world order in the face of a sudden, unexpected obstacle: love. Sure, it sounds really quaint, but We is a whirlwind of intellectual and emotional chaos, brought to life in strangely mathematical imagery and feverish mystery.

Reading this fractured, oddly-phrased story, I can only imagine that it was extremely difficult to translate, so I'll point out that I read the fairly recent Natasha Randall translation put out by the Modern Library. I can't vouch for other translations, but this one is modern, gripping, and evocative. The final fifty pages, coupled with the coffee I was drinking, actually gave me anxiety. And now that I close the book, I'm left with this vague sort of dread-slash-melancholy. I consider that a good thing. The truly great books are the ones you feel even when you aren't reading them.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,535 reviews1,793 followers
August 21, 2020
I had noticed 1984 pop up in my feed and more chatter about that and Brave New World in the media, which my thoughts upstream towards their source Zamyatin's 1924 novel We. Zamyatin's book as is the way of books, did not pop out of the void but is itself in dialogue with older books, in particular I felt Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground and the Bible. For those afraid of spoilers, you were better off avoiding this review altogether. For if, persons unknown, credit Zamyatin with writing the first dystopia, he himself shakes his head and says no - the first dystopia and the first utopia is the Garden of Eden. The same feelings impel us to the one and repel us from the other, but the difference between the two states is about one heart beat in Zamyatin's story.

Zamyatin's principal character is Adam, or D-530 as he is known here in the world in which everybody is a number, apart from The Benefactor who is maybe Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor or possibly God himself. The problem with Edens as we know from Notes from the Underground, is human nature, man confronted with the most beautiful Crystal Palace imaginable, a shining promise of modernity, has an overwhelming desire to lob a brick through it's bloody great windows, and as for woman...well as we know from books and life, woman makes man look like a saint by comparison.

For me on the reread it seemed that Zamyatin took that as his starting assumption but was more interested in the motive forces that work for and against Utopias and Dystopias. A friend in my rereading updates was gracious enough to mention Anna Karennia and Vronsky, and there is a current in society which sees love and sexual attraction as a rebellion in the making against society, something intrinsically disruptive, here says Orwell, watch my man Winston Smith gambolling as happy as a new born lamb - now introduce woman into my test tube and lets stand well back and see what happens, in a rarefied form Huxley says acceptance of the realities of the world is a spell, sufficient exposure to something else will lead to disenchantment and escape from the iron cage of the Ford factory. But Zamyatin's Adam is a man of passion masquerading as an Engineer. He tells us that as a child he dissolved into a tantrum of tears and deep distress when he was taught about the square root of minus one. The intensity of D-530's desires for a complete world is I think it's main strength over its daughter books, it is D-530 who yearns for complete absorption whether in the arms of his lover or nestling into the arbitrary order of the one state, the desire for the dissolution of self is the same, he flees from the troubling reality of irrational numbers just as he struggles against himself, his obsession with lips and his hairy hands, he can't accept the irrationality inherent in his own person which his initial love interest O-90 can, she accepts her desire be pregnant even though the nature of this society means that this is a death sentence. The problem, for Zamyatin is not that man and woman have a natural tendency to first make bricks and then to throw them through windows, but on the contrary that humans have a deep longing not to escape childhood, but to cling to a parent particularly perhaps if they are arbitrary and abusive. O-90 achieves Enlightenment, while for D-530 the Buddha remains in the museum, the war over the direction of his own dissolution takes place on the Dostoyeskian backfield - his own soul - the Entropic one state or Lilith and the rejection of domination in favour of energy. The one battle he can't face is for self acceptance - the self that doesn't laugh at the music of Scriabin . Not that E-330 is an ideal positive figure, Orwell shamelessly demotes her to Julia in his novel, E-330 is a far more powerful figure, the prime mover in rebellion, but also deluded in her faith in D-530 - a weak reed and nursed as well as nurtured by a state in which no human has an individual value, apart from the Platonic philosopher king who rules the while show, she has no drive to spare human life herself. Her power though does appear to have the capacity to bring down the state which plainly isn't the case in Orwell or Huxley for them the individual is too weak in the face of state power.

It strikes me that D-530's longing for unity is another strength, Winston Smith only comes to love Big Brother after the careful application of a certain amount of expertise and coercion, this is highly inefficient, and no sensible way to run an entire state as one can see - even extreme governments
prefer mostly, as Zamyatin imagines in his one state, that the regime works with the grain , through love. Although to be fair the removal of his inner conflict is achieved through brain surgery.

Apparently inspired by the time Zamyatin spent studying ship building in the North-East of England before the first world war. This was read by Orwell and Huxley before they wrote their dystopian fantasies, Orwell read the French translations presumably in between washing dishes or while waiting to pawn something.

After the first world war Zamyatin designed ice-breakers that remained in service well into the soviet period. Like the narrator of his novel he was a man designing functional objects in a society that was set on designing functional citizens.
January 12, 2019
Taylor and irrational numbers and calculus must have really made impression on Zamyatin. Just as the ideation of 'sex free for all' that he likely could have perceived around at the time.

Visionary, seer and dystopianist of 1920.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,911 followers
July 22, 2018
Now, why would I think that an old SF novel from 1924 might not be as polished and extravagant in exploring ideas and crafting a truly delicious dystopia as, say, 1984, or Anthem, or Brave New World as they did many years later? Or be as timely now as it was in the time where it was heralded as a "malicious slander on socialism"?

Did I avoid this mainly because I couldn't pronounce the author's name?


But that's horrible! Especially when this little gem is polished to a very high degree.

It lambasts current and past ideas of utopia, turning sex and the "greatest good" into a truly timeless dystopia. Not only that, it's witty, speaks of the death of all imagination, makes me care for its hero in a profound way even when he's following the grand dictates of this "final" society, and of course we feel the effects of the new revolution even when there could never BE another revolution.

You know what it reminds me of? The old move Metropolis. Now that's a true classic, too, and just as good today as it was back in 1927.

Notice a trend? That perhaps this little novel inspired all these names I dropped? Well, it's true, or at least, the authors admitted as such.

Make no mistake. The other authors took things into somewhat wilder directions, but We is closest to what we are now, for all that. And it's no less polished. In some ways, it's better. It all depends on whether you want your SF dystopias a bit more hardcore and dark or with more worldbuilding. Rand was nuts with the worldbuilding and Huxley feels like he cribbed this entire novel, but 1984 goes the distance. Anyway I look at it, though, this novel belongs with all the greats. At least in dystopias. :)
Profile Image for Ian.
705 reviews65 followers
December 9, 2020
I became interested in this novel after I learned that Orwell read it before starting work on “1984”. Having now read “We”, I might re-read Orwell’s masterpiece.

The edition I read had a translator’s note, which explained that Zamyatin used certain sounds in language to convey certain concepts, and that this plays a significant role in the original. That seems to me to pose more than the usual issues for a translator. In addition, Zamyatin’s future society, called in this version “The One State”, is run on mathematical principles, and contains numerous references to such. Individuals are called “ciphers”, conveying the message they are no more than bits of code, that combine to make up the wider society. There are also chunks of the novel where the lead character, a male “cipher” called D-503, has dreamlike or hallucinogenic experiences. Lastly, Zamyatin frequently uses a style of broken dialogue, from which the reader has to infer meaning. We got lots of extracts like “I must not…I somehow have to…” or “I don’t want…you understand…I don’t want to…I agree to…” The overall effect is that the book is written in a, shall we say, distinctive style.

The plot centres on a relationship between D-503 and a female called I-330. Parallels have been drawn with the lead characters from “1984” and I would agree there are similarities between I-330 and Julia, although personally I thought I-330’s character was not as well-developed. D-503 though, is a different sort of person from Winston Smith.

I found the story compelling, and towards the end read on eagerly to find out what transpires. For all that, it was probably the setting of the book that interested me most. The life of The One State is governed by a “Table of Hours”. People are woken at the same time, work the same hours, eat meals at the same time, go to sleep at the same time, take compulsory exercise at the same time, attend lectures at the same time, etc. This was very much the sort of society that people like Mao Zedong and Pol Pot aspired to, and I think Zamyatin, writing in 1921, was very perceptive in seeing this form of society as a potential endpoint to communism. Within the Table of Hours though, there are two “imperfections” - two hours in every 24 are allowed for personal activities. One of these is for the purposes of sex. Ciphers are allocated “sex days” and cannot refuse a request from another person, as everyone must be treated equally. Again, in our present day I have seen Internet arguments that are quite close to this position.

Another difference between this novel and “1984” is that Ingsoc London was not just repressive but also a place of squalor and poverty. By contrast, The One State has eliminated crime and poverty, though at the cost of the elimination of individual freedom. One of the major themes of the book is whether humans actually prefer order to freedom. I have shared highlights to illustrate.

One thing that did strike me is that the police force of The One State was considerably less effective than Orwell’s Thought Police. Maybe this was a reflection of Zamyatin’s time. When the novel was written, the terrifying efficiency of the NKVD or the Gestapo was still a decade or so in the future.

The unusual, and sometimes clunky, style of this novel means that it won’t be for everyone. It was a great choice for me though.
Profile Image for Malacorda.
502 reviews311 followers
July 26, 2021
Come giustamente osserva @elalma, di storie distopiche non se ne può più: sul grande e piccolo schermo le trovo irrimediabilmente repellenti, e anche in letteratura non mi attraggono più di tanto. Ma per questo romanzo dovevo fare un'eccezione, e menomale che l'ho fatta: è il capostipite e precursore, così precursore che sembra essere lì, pochi passi davanti a noi che viviamo nel 2018, e invece ormai ha cento anni... che non sia la dimostrazione pratica di quanto si sostiene in La scuola degli sciocchi e cioè che il tempo è solo una bislacca e un po' presuntuosa invenzione?

In realtà, ancor prima di iniziare la lettura di questo Noi, stavo già riflettendo sulle assonanze e dissonanze che intercorrono tra Sokolov e Zamjatin. La scuola degli sciocchi è a suo modo un inno alla fantasia, alla leggerezza che deriva da purezza e ingenuità e incoscienza, alla contemplazione della natura fine a sé stessa e che genera una gioia piccolissima e al tempo stesso infinita, è un caleidoscopio di colori. E giunge alla conclusione che "...i rododendri che crescono ogni minuto da qualche parte sui prati delle Alpi sono molto più felici di noi […]. Solo per l'essere umano, gravato da un'egoistica compassione di sé, la morte si dice oltraggio e sciagura." E' dunque quantomeno curioso osservare come Zamjatin esponga una conclusione pressoché identica, pur arrivandoci dalla strada opposta e con intenzioni opposte, nella riflessione filosofica sul rapporto tra libertà e fantasia e felicità, e con una tavolozza fatta solo di grigi e azzurri e color acciaio, dove la minima macchiolina di rosso o di giallo squilla come un campanello di notte. In entrambi i casi si vagheggia/vaneggia una totale assenza di arbitrio, desiderio e consapevolezza come unica via per il raggiungimento della felicità. Zamjatin lo fa virando con grazia verso un umorismo che sfocia nel grottesco: "Ma non pensi che la vetta [della felicità] siano esattamente le pietre riunite in una società organizzata?"

Sul significato storico del romanzo, scritto in Russia nei primi anni del governo sovietico e dunque palese critica al regime e avvertimento per quello che poteva accadere in futuro, e la censura che ne è conseguita, su tutto questo mi pare non ci sia nulla da aggiungere.

I temi trattati sono argomenti totalizzanti, riguardano veramente la vita, l'universo e tutto quanto. La felicità, la libertà di espressione, la vita in relazione a lavoro e produttività: qui si osserva l'essere umano a tutto tondo, con tutte le implicazioni filosofiche, sociali, economiche.

Il contesto temporale è un altro aspetto rilevante del libro, se uno legge un libro scritto cent'anni fa pensa di dover contestualizzare quantomeno certi ragionamenti, e invece no: è un'opera sospesa nel tempo perché anche se sta per compiere i cento anni, racconta di un ipotetico e distopico futuro remoto che ci fa tuttora paura e che in parte sta già realizzandosi (non è forse vero che già oggi tendiamo ad irridere oppure ad ignorare bellamente tanti fatti e nozioni della Storia e del passato dell'umanità? Non è forse vero già oggi che un poeta, uno scrittore o un musicista vengono visti con sufficienza perché "con la cultura non si mangia" e si cerca di inculcare nei bambini il concetto che se uno è veramente furbo deve occuparsi di ingegneria o di chimica? Non è già reale in tanti contesti l'obbligo di avere un certificato di avvenuta operazione/vaccinazione/xyzione? per non dire poi del "bisogno", ormai dato da tutti per scontato e assodato, di condividere ogni istante e immagine della propria vita e mettersi in mostra il più possibile, altro che pareti di vetro...); e visto che nel mezzo, tra il 1920 e quel futuro remoto, ci siamo noi con il nostro presente, non si può negare quanto il romanzo sia attuale, in quanto esprime appieno i bisogni, i desideri e i timori degli esseri umani del 2018.

Anche sotto il punto di vista della forma letteraria, lo trovo estremamente valido e attuale. La scrittura spezzettata, a tratti sgangherata, qualche volta si dilunga in spiegazioni e altre volte dà cose per scontate, ma il tutto rientra perfettamente nei parametri di quello che è il mezzo scelto dall'autore per costruire il suo libro. Qui si legge infatti il diario di un abitante (o unità, come dicono loro) dello Stato Unico, in un futuro remoto. E' un ingegnere, o un matematico, si definisce costruttore ma non tanto nel senso di carpentiere quanto di capo-progetto, in ogni caso vi si potrebbe individuare in un certo qual modo un alter ego dell'autore. Questo ingegnere, ligio alle regole e devoto al potere, non sentendosi all'altezza per esaltare in modo opportuno il potere e la grandezza dello Stato Unico attraverso un'opera d'arte vera e propria, decide che da parte sua il miglior contributo alla gloria del regime possa essere la massima sincerità, e con tale spirito di estrema trasparenza inizia a redigere le sue note. Non rendendosi tuttavia conto che, proprio a causa di questo impegno verso la massima sincerità possibile, il resoconto quotidiano lascerà subito trasparire tutte le crepe, le contraddizioni, tutte le inquietudini originate dalla enorme massa di costrizioni cui gli abitanti di questo futuro sono sottoposti, i desideri e le sensazioni a cui egli non è nemmeno in grado di dare un nome, e così non può altro che definirsi malato, o se qualche volta gli scappa di metterli per iscritto, certi pensieri o desideri, una parte della nota viene poi cancellata (anche in questo caso, dunque, la frammentarietà del testo fa parte della finzione cui esso intende rifarsi). Presto il complicarsi della presunta malattia farà sì che egli non possa più trovarvi riparo tra le rassicuranti pieghe del regime e così il diario rimarrà l'unico suo sfogo, l'unico suo possibile confidente. "La testa mi si spaccava, due treni di logica si erano scontrati, accartocciati l'uno sull'altro, e l'uno demoliva l'altro con fragore...". Questo soggetto così adorante nei confronti del potere, incontrerà una donna: una figura enigmatica che in pubblico appare in un modo e in privato (quel poco che resta loro) è tutt'altro. E qui mi fermo perché credo che le affinità con Orwell siano già state sufficientemente esposte. La rielaborazione che Orwell ha operato a partire da questo testo non è inutile né leziosa, vista comunque la caratura di chi l'ha fatta: penso che leggendo prima l'uno e poi l'altro, Orwell e Zamjatin oppure viceversa, in ogni caso penso che ciascuno dei due possa fare l'uno da prefazione all'altro, oppure l'uno fare da postfazione all'altro. Sono due opere assolutamente, anzi direi necessariamente complementari.

Concordo con chi ha osservato che qui in Zamjatin si può trovare una dose di poesia che Orwell non è stato del tutto in grado di ricostruire (oppure non ha voluto), c'è un respiro poetico che arriva al lettore contro ogni aspettativa se si considera quanto il racconto è farcito di metafore di matematica, di fisica, di meccanica e di filosofia. Tutti questi elementi sono come il pizzico di sale da aggiungere tra gli ingredienti per la preparazione di un dolce: sembra che non c'entri niente, e invece poi funziona eccome, e finisce che uno ne vuole un'altra fetta.

L'aspetto più coinvolgente è il modo - del tutto inconsapevole, progressivo e lentissimo come una marea - in cui il protagonista inizia a prendere coscienza di qualcosa che non vuole ammettere, che non sa spiegare, che non è nemmeno in grado di concepire, e mentre lui si dilunga in spiegazioni scientifiche e metafore matematiche, c'è un sostrato che si muove tra le righe, un'inquietudine che non ha proprio nulla di matematico, e più egli si affanna a ripetere e ripetersi quell'"è chiaro" come un vero e proprio mantra, più la sua esistenza va ingarbugliandosi. Questa costruzione mi ricorda molto da vicino Tempo di uccidere di Flaiano, e su questo paragone mi zittisco, assaporando in bocca il buon aroma della soddisfazione. Dopo alcune letture così-così, questa mi ci voleva proprio.
Profile Image for J.
194 reviews88 followers
March 29, 2022
It is rather amusing to read George Orwell's review of this book. He is quick to point out that it is not a book of the first order; but Orwell is wrong. And even though he had this and Brave New World to use as models, 1984 is not as good as either. This is not to say that 1984 is bad. But compared to "We", it is, as Noam Chomsky has pointed out, rather wooden, the conclusion obvious, and not nearly as prescient. Animal Farm is an earlier, and better, work by Orwell.

Yevgeny Zamyatin's 1921 novel is written in somewhat stilted but engaging prose. That doesn't do it justice... The use of ellipses is prevalent. Lines like "Neither mathematics nor death ever makes a mistake," and "True literature can exist only when it is created, not by diligent and reliable officials, but by madmen, hermits, heretics, dreamers, rebels and skeptics," are rather startling when you come to them.

As with most novels about the future, the main character seems strangely focused on persons living in the old days which happen to be when the author lived, in this case the 1910-20's.

Unsurprisingly, the protagonist is breaking away from the "We" and becoming an individual. Individualism is not something fostered in a world of no names, only numbers.

Zamyatin helped Orwell develop "doublespeak" in this novel. Freedom is a bad word in "We." Freedom equals crime.

A well known book among the numbers in One State (the name given to the society of numbered humans and its officials) is thought of as an immortal tragedy and is entitled, "He Who was Late to Work." This gives an idea of the mundane and tragically boring society these numbers inhabit.

Zamyatin refers to eyes as windows and eyelids as blinds or curtains. He describes the wind as flapping its dark wings in the night. It is not flowery prose, but a strange beauty is prevalent. Much is suggested. Nothing is over-explained. I would name Ken Kesey as his American counterpart.

Written in journal form and segmented into short entries, "We" can be read quickly; but it does not lack profundity. Along with Brave New World and 1984, it is an exemplar of dystopian fiction.
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,485 reviews190 followers
April 2, 2022
Reading this book when war is raging in Eastern Europe and people are controlled and kept in the dark by a well oiled propaganda machine made for an intense experience. This is the OG of dystopia that inspired Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's 1984, which in turn inspired Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. The audiobook I listened to contained a foreword by Atwood, a review of the book by Orwell and an essay by Ursula K. Le Guin! I mean talk about a sublime listening experience! The novel presents so many points for discussion about the mechanisation of humans and how freedom and imagination are the enemy of happiness because the source of happiness is regulation and control. I listened to it twice. Once to sit back and listen to this wonderfully written and frighteningly prophetic story, the second with a pencil and paper at the ready to write down quotes I liked and thoughts I had. I won't say too much more but here are some of the quotes that I think will tell you everything you need to know about this novel (I've written them as best as I heard them so apologies for errors - I didn't have time to trawl through the intermaweb looking for them).

... we are always in view. Eternally washed by the light within our translucent walls which seem to be woven from sparkling air. We have nothing to hide from each other. Plus, it makes the difficult and noble task of the Guardians a lot easier. Otherwise, who knows what could happen? It's quite possible that the bizarre opaque dwellings of the Ancients are exactly what lead to their pathetic single-celled mindset, "My home is my castle". Imagine!

You're sick. And the name of this illness is 'Imagination'. It is the worm that gnaws black wrinkles into your forehead. The fever that drives you further and further away, even when further begins precisely where happiness ends. It is the final barricade on the path to total happiness. But rejoice, we have already blasted our way through this obstacle. The path is clear. The latest State science discovery is the seat of the Imagination. A pathetic little neural nodule in the region of the pons Varolii. With a simple triple x-ray quarterisation you will be cured of Imagination. Forever. You will be perfect. You will be equal to the machine. The path to one hundred percent happiness is clear. Hurry! One and all, young and old. Run, don't walk to undergo The Great Operation. Hurry to the auditoriums where they are performing The Great Operation. All Hail The Great Operation! All hail the One State! All hail the Benefactor! 

No more delirious nonsense. No crazy metaphors. No feelings. Just facts. Because now I am healthy. I am completely and totally healthy. I'm smiling. I can't help smiling. A splinter has been removed from my head and now it is empty and light. Rather, not empty, but there is nothing foreign in it that would keep me from smiling. Smiling is the normal state of a normal person.

I'm certain we will win. For Reason must win

There is no final revolution.
Profile Image for مجیدی‌ام.
213 reviews104 followers
November 5, 2021
یادمه برای پیدا کردن این کتاب، سختی زیادی کشیدم! چون حدودا دو سه سال پیش بود که خواستم این کتاب رو بخونم ولی چاپ‌تمام شده بود و پیدا نمی‌شد!
تا اینکه حدودا یک سال و نیم پیش، نشر بیدگل با یک ترجمه‌ی عالی، این کتاب رو احیا کرد.
بلافاصله پس از مطلع شدن، کتاب رو از دفتر رسمی فروش انتشارات خریدم و به کتابخونه‌ام اضافه‌اش کردم.
و بالاخره قرعه به نامش افتاد و موفق به خوندنش شدم.

اوایل فکر می‌کردم که نویسنده‌ی کتب، زامیاتین، برای نوشتن کتابش از جورج اورول و کتاب هزار و نهصد و هشتاد و چهار الهام گرفته، تا اینکه تحقیق کردم و دیدم خیر! در اشتباه بودم! زامیاتین یکجورایی پدر سبک پادآرمان‌شهریه! :))

مهم نیست که بخوام داستان کتاب رو لو بدم یا نه، چون دیگه کلمه‌ی پادآرمان‌شهری خودش بیان‌گر همه چیز هست!

داستان در دنیایی اتفاق می‌افته که آدم‌هاش هیچ روح و هویت فردی‌ای ندارن!
این آدم‌ها، همه چیز زندگی‌شون توسط حکومت مدیریت و کنترل و دیکته میشه.
از جمله ساعات خواب و بیداری، نوع غذاها، ساعات غذا خوردن‌ها و حتی تعداد دفعات جویدن هر لقمه!
مسیرهای رفت و برگشت به محل کار!
تعداد دفعات رابطه جنسی!
و تمام جوانب دیگه‌ی زندگی!
در این دنیا، خونه‌ها از جنس شیشه هستن و هیچ فردی نمی‌تونه چیزی رو بعنوان راز، از بقیه مخفی کنه!
تنها استثنایی که وجود داره، کرکره‌هایی هستن که در زمان برقراری رابطه جنسی و به مدت زمان محدود، پایین میان و فضایی نسبتا خصوصی رو برای صاحب‌خونه به ارمغان میارن!
در غیر این صورت، افراد در این دنیا، هرگز چیزی رو نمی‌تونن از همدیگه مخفی کنن!
نکته جالب دیگه، اینکه در این دنیا، داشتن روح، یک بیماری محسوب میشه!
در این دنیا، کسی که احساسات داره، کسی که تخیل داره، توسط پاسداران و یا به اصطلاح پلیس‌های حکومتی شناسایی شده و با انجام عمل به‌روی مغز، از شر این احساسات خلاص میشه!

داستان کتاب هم، در این دنیا جریان داره! هیچ چیز دیگه‌ای از داستان لو نمی‌دم...

از لحاظ نگارش و خوانش، کتاب کمی سخت‌خوانه، البته داستان سرراستی داره ولی خود ادبیات کتاب، سرعت خوانش رو پایین میاره.
ولی به جرات می‌تونم بگم که از صفحه اول الی صفحه آخر کتاب، هیجان و کششی قوی وجود داره، که باعث می‌شه در حین خوندنش هرگز احساس سردی و سررفتن حوصله نکنید!

ترجمه عالی، کیفیت چاپ عالی، اگر قطع کتاب هم بجای پالتویی، رقعی بود که دیگه نورعلی‌نور می‌شد! :))
من روی قطع کتاب‌های کتابخونه‌ام هم حساسم، بعله! :))

توصیه می‌کنم این کتاب رو بخونید. اگر از کتاب هزار و نهصد و هشتاد و چهار خوشتون اومده، پس یقینا عاشق این کتاب خواهید شد.
پنج ستاره کامل...
Profile Image for MihaElla .
200 reviews328 followers
May 29, 2022
After all my boasted independence as regards science fiction reading—it looks I have been so much home whilst reading We and, surprisingly, finding myself under a cursed necessity of turning selfish in my own defence (sadly but realistically, selfishness is always the work of time), I have looked on it (I mean on the novel We ) with a voracious appetite, that is to say I have tried to hear, see and feel We in a serious, all-important manner, and so have plunged myself into this big ocean of an idea of a new world, occupied and commoved by innumerable “transparent, glass cells”, each whirling round its centre, but nonetheless all of them moving submissively on the orbit of the great Benefactor…

I am inclined to maintain that what the author of this novel failed to accomplish or undertake is as nothing in comparison with his glorious achievement, and I do consider it a great luxury to have read this book, which in fact was a well deserved gift from me to me :D

I liked it very much that this was meant to be read as a sort of journal of a man -- though not especially one with the passion and sensitiveness of a poet, yet occasionally he is natural in his sentiments, but rarely – of strong, sound sense and keen observation. Well, in his place, I would certainly be ashamed of scrawling whole sheets of incoherence, which maybe or very likely is what I am myself doing right now ;)

Alas! Who would wish for many years? I mean in that world that the author is writing and telling us about? What is it but to drag existence until our joys gradually expire, and leave us in a night of misery…In fact, it is a sort of gloom that kills all the stars, one by one, and leave me, at least, in the howling act! By the by, it seems it fits me better these days, the howling skill :D

Well, but it is a truth. How seldom do we meet in this or that world, that we have reason (!) to congratulate ourselves on the ability to experience what we call happiness. And this makes us cast an anxious look into the dreadful abyss of uncertainty, and shudder with apprehension for our own fate. Still, let us not forget of what importance is one period of life, and how different an importance are the lives of different individuals. H’m. I know not why, apparently, I have got into this preaching vein. Perhaps to tell that it is not my ignorance but my knowledge of mankind which makes me so much admire some, still very few, human beings’ goodness to me.

“And happiness… Well? After all, desires are agonizing, aren’t they? And clearly: happiness is when there are no longer any desires, not a single one… What a mistake, what an absurd prejudice, that to this day we’ve been putting a plus sign before happiness, whereas before absolute happiness there is, of course, a minus – the divine minus.”


And, as only recently I have finished reading Robert Burn’s own words (I mean his own letters), then I feel that with Robert Burns's own words I may fitly conclude (no boasted modesty, of course). They are words not merely to be read and admired, but to be remembered in our hearts and practiced in our lives—if or when possibly to accomplish, as nothing is mandatory if the great Benefactor is on unlimited vacation...

“Then gently scan your brother Man,
Still gentler sister Woman;
Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang,
To step aside is human:
One point must still be greatly dark,
The moving Why they do it;
And just as lamely can ye mark,
How far perhaps they rue it.
Who made the heart,
'tis He alone Decidedly can try us,
He knows each chord—its various tone,
Each spring—its various bias:
Then at the balance let's be mute,
We never can adjust it;
What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted.”
Profile Image for Stuart.
708 reviews262 followers
October 30, 2021
We: A Clear Inspiration for 1984 (and maybe Brave New World)
Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We (1924) is widely recognized as a direct influence on George Orwell when he composed his dystopian masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four, and there are certainly strong signs of influence in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World as well. Zamyatin edited Russian translations of works of Jack London and H.G. Wells, and We can be viewed as a reaction against the optimistic scientific socialist utopias promoted by Wells (of note, Aldous Huxley claims no influence from We, stating he was also opposed to the utopian ideals of H.G. Wells).

Okay, so how does the book read now, in 2015, almost 100 years after its first English publication? Would it not be so dated as to be unreadable?

We must consider all the cataclysmic events that have happened since it was written: World War II, the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Cold War between the US and USSR, the fall of the Soviet Union, the economic rise of Japan and more recently China (where communism still exists but has been greatly tempered by the forge of capitalism), the increasing globalization of the world’s economies, not to mention the innumerable list of technological inventions, not least of which are computers and the internet.

It’s really pretty hard to read We without all the baggage that we are equipped with as members of today’s world, including all the dystopian SF books and films that have come since then. Even now some of the most popular YA series include Suzanne Collins’ THE HUNGER GAMES and Veronica Roth’s DIVERGENT series. But when Zamyatin published We back in 1924, there weren’t many earlier dystopian works other than Jack London’s The Iron Heel (1907).

But to return to the book itself, it is a very powerful exploration of a totalitarian society gone mad, where happiness is defined as the absence of free will, and emotions are considered a mental illness. Society is completely regimented with mathematical precision by the government (headed by the iron-fisted Benefactor), public executions of any aberrant Numbers are carried out by the Benefactor under the Machine (all individuals only have letters and numbers to distinguish them), and nature is suppressed outside a Wall that encloses a perfectly organized geometrical glass city where citizens live like clockwork, regimented by the Tables of Hours down to their waking, working, exercise, eating, even copulation. The story revolves around D-503, builder of the Integral spaceship, which is intended to go forth and subject other planets to the benign dictatorship of the One State. He get’s involved with a dissident temptress named I-330, who drags him unwillingly into a plot to overthrow and destroy the One State.

The writing is beautifully poetic and very impressionistic, with a great focus faces and eyes as windows onto the soul. Much time is spent describing the inner mental turmoil of D-503 as he struggles with the conflicting imperatives of his perfect geometric existence and love of mathematics and the wild, illogical, passionate and manipulative I-330. Hi struggles are far more sympathetic than the Shakespeare-obsessed Savage of Brave New World, a clear inspiration for 1984's Winston Smith.

We succeeds marvelously in criticizing the absurdity of scientific utopias and the horrors of Soviet totalitarianism, and is a marvelous work of literature as well. I think it deserves to share the towering stature as a dystopian masterpiece in Western society that Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World have, two works that it has clearly influenced profoundly.
Profile Image for Josh.
184 reviews32 followers
September 22, 2020
2020 update:
With apologies to the people who found it funny, I find my old review’s reveling in my high school snobbery more embarrassing than funny now (especially since this review is popular). I’m cutting the review down to the parts actually about the book.

That said, my trouble with the dystopian/utopian genre continues—in my opinion, the format lends itself to strawmen and the plots get samey. But, to show I’m not completely biased, a couple dystopian/utopian recommendations: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (which evenhandedly deals with the ideals and shortcomings of two opposite worlds while still making clear arguments—see my review) and the movie Brazil by Terry Gilliam (where the dystopia results from crushing indifference and ineptitude more than ideology).


Before reading, my review was a question to my followers: “This book has universal five stars among my Friend's and Follower's reviews, but I'm skeptical. Having read more than two dystopian novels in my life, what does this have to offer that's new, besides simply being the first? I get that totalitarian governments and loss of individual expression is bad, but what else?” The question gives away my disinterest in the dystopian genre, and, frankly, I didn’t get a positive answer from reading the book. If you find yourself asking the same things, Zamyatin’s “We” probably won’t do much for you.

When I read this in high school, it was in the middle of seeing dystopian fiction as the bane of my classmates’ reading tastes. (Hunger Games was everywhere and I reacted annoyingly.) I wish I could’ve cared more about the fact that this was a groundbreaking, original, ballsy novel, and tried to hear what was special and unique compared to its successors, but I only heard an imaginary teen in an imaginary English class saying "Ohmigosh they only have numbers for names that's ssoooooo crazy" and "This is JUST like The Giver!"

But someone had to come up with those English class tropes for the first time, right? I convinced myself that this book's antiquity and originality would be enough for me to willingly drop my deterrence to dystopia and to be able to enjoy this for what it is. Turns out, Rand and Orwell squeezed this puppy to its last drop. This book's antiquity and originality didn't make me like it more, it made me like Anthem and 1984 less. The plot and themes of the later books don't make We predictable, they're carbon copies. They turn We into a rerun. It deserves much better than that, but I cannot feign that I found it to be anything more than that to me.

The book isn't even written badly. I wasn't crazy about the journal entry format, but it was effective in showing what a chaotic revolution does to the mind of a loyal cog of a society hell-bent on rationality and right-angles. While a journal, it is (in-story) written for other people to be read, but it reads much more like a conversation, complete with numerous ellipses and em-dashes. I don't know about others' tastes, but I always found conversational styles more easy to read than long bits of exposition, so that made this read smoothly for me. Some passages and dialogues are beautiful and witty, my favorite probably being the dialogue about how revolutions are infinite. Many of the better parts have been lifted and put in the Quotes section for the author page for Yevgeny Zamyatin. If you like the quotes on that page, the book has plenty more.

My biggest problem with the writing was how Zamyatin describes his characters—he doesn't go overboard with details, he instead chooses one small insignificant (and often ugly) detail to constantly refer to people as. The only details described about women, for example, seem to be their mouths (Zamyatin even addresses this on page 71, with "All women are lips, nothing but lips.") He'll take someone's "round pink lips" and this will become their new name. "Round pink lips," "round pink lips," "round pink lips," nonstop. The rhetorical device of referring to an entity by only one small detail of it is called "metonymy," which is only a couple consonants away from "monotony!" Another character (who is supposedly to be the attractive love interest) is described as having "sharp teeth" incessantly. Twice, the narrator takes his time to describe how her eyebrows and mouth wrinkles form a giant "X" on her face. Allow me to illustrate the images these descriptions put in your head:

Her quivering pink-brown gills her quivering pink-brown gills his flat face his flat face his S-shaped body his S-shaped body his translucent wing-like ears his translucent wing-like ears his MAKE IT STOP AAAGHHHGHGH.

If it’s only mild historical interest drawing you to the book, I can’t recommend We. If you absolutely love dystopian fiction, have no idea what I'm whining about, or by some miracle haven't already read 1984 and that ilk, disregard everything I've just said, and go enjoy it while you still can. I just wasn't able to.
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