We
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We

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A seminal work of dystopian fiction that 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. This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the Russian with an introduction by Clarence Brown.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.Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937) was a naval engineer by profession and writer by vocation, who made himself an enemy of the Tsarist government by being a Bolshevik, and an enemy of the Soviet government by insisting that human beings have absolute creative freedom. He wrote short stories, plays and essays, but his masterpiece is We, written in 1920-21 and soon thereafter translated into most of the languages of the world. It first appeared in Russia only in 1988.If you enjoyed We, you might like George Orwell's 1984, also available in Penguin Classics.'the best single work of science fiction yet written'Ursula K. LeGuin, author of The Left Hand of Darkness'It is in effect a study of the Machine, the genie that man has thoughtlessly let out of its bottle and cannot put back again'George Orwell, author of 1984show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 126 x 194 x 14mm | 181.44g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 0140185852
  • 9780140185850
  • 13,285

About Yevgeny Zamyatin

Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin (1884-1937) was a naval architect by profession and a writer by nature. His favorite idea was the absolute freedom of the human personality to create, to imagine, to love, to make mistakes, and to change the world. This made him a highly inconvenient citizen of two despotisms, the tsarist and the Communist, both of which exiled him, the first for a year, the latter forever. He wrote short stories, plays, and essays, but his masterpiece is We, written in 1920-21 and soon thereafter translated into most of the languages of the world. It first appeared in Russia only in 1988. It is the archetype of the modern dystopia, or anti-utopia; a great prose poem on the fate that might befall all of us if we surrender our individual selves to some collective dream of technology and fail in the vigilance that is the price of freedom. George Orwell, the author of 1984, acknowledged his debt to Zamyatin. The other great English dystopia of our time, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, was evidently written out of the same impulse, though without direct knowledge of Zamyatin's We.Clarence Brown is the author of several works on the Russian poetOsip Mandelstam. He is editor of The Portable Twentieth-Century RussianReader, which contains his translation of Zamyatin's short story "TheCave," and of Yury Olesha's novel Enpy.show more

Review quote

-[Zamyatin's] intuitive grasp of the irrational side of totalitarianism--human sacrifice, cruelty as an end in itself--makes [We] superior to Huxley's [Brave New World].---George Orwell "[Zamyatin's] intuitive grasp of the irrational side of totalitarianism--human sacrifice, cruelty as an end in itself--makes [We] superior to Huxley's [Brave New World]."--George Orwell [Zamyatin s] intuitive grasp of the irrational side of totalitarianism human sacrifice, cruelty as an end in itself makes [We] superior to Huxley s [Brave New World]. George Orwell"show more

Table of contents

We Introduction: Zamyatin and the Rooster Notes to Introduction Suggestions for Further Reading WERecord 1 Announcement The Wisest of Lines An Epic Poem Record 2 Ballet Harmony Squared X Record 3 Jacket Wall The Table Record 4 Savage with Barometer Epilepsy If Record 5 Square Rulers of the World Pleasant and Useful Function Record 6 Accident Damned "Clear" 24 Hours Record 7 An Eyelash Taylor Henbane and Lily of the Valley Record 8 The Irrational Root R-13 Triangle Record 9 Liturgy Iambs and Trochees Cast-Iron Hand Record 10 Letter Membrane Hairy Me Record 11 No, I Can't... Skip the Contents Record 12 Limitation of Infinity Angel Reflections on Poetry Record 13 Fog Familiar "You" An Absolutely Inane Occurrence Record 14 "Mine" Forbidden Cold Floor Record 15 Bell Mirror-like Sea My Fate to Burn Forever Record 16 Yellow Two-Dimensional Shadow Incurable Soul Record 17 Through Glass I Died Hallways Record 18 Logical Labyrinth Wounds and Plaster Never Again Record 19 Third-Order Infinitesimal A Sullen Glare Over the Parapet Record 20 Discharge Idea Material Zero Cliff Record 21 An Author's Duty Swollen Ice The Most Difficult Love Record 22 Frozen Waves Everything Tends to Perfection I Am a Microbe Record 23 Flowers Dissolution of a Crystal If Only Record 24 Limit of Function Easter Cross It All Out Record 25 Descent from Heaven History's Greatest Catastrophe End of the Known Record 26 The World Exists A Rash 41 Centigrade Record 27 No Contents - Can't Record 28 Both Women Entropy and Energy Opaque Part of the Body Record 29 Threads on the Face Shoots Unnatural Compression Record 30 The Final Number Galileo's Mistake Wouldn't It Be Better? Record 31 The Great Operation I Have Forgiven Everything A Train Wreck Record 32 I Do Not Believe Tractors The Human Chip Record 33 (No Time for Contents, Last Note) Record 34 Those on Leave A Sunny Night Radio-Valkyrie Record 35 In a Hoop Carrot Murder Record 36 Blank Pages The Christian God About My Mother Record 37 Infusorian Doomsday Her Room Record 38 (I Don't Know What Goes Here, Maybe Just: A Cigarette Butt) Record 39 The End Record 40 Facts The Bell I Am Certain Translator's Notesshow more

Rating details

48,773 ratings
3.95 out of 5 stars
5 33% (16,197)
4 37% (18,282)
3 22% (10,732)
2 6% (2,825)
1 2% (737)

Our customer reviews

This is the forefather of socialistic dystopian literature. You can absolutely see the inspiration that Orwell drew from this book with his ingenious "Nineteen Eighty-Four". The city is not allowed privacy, except for on Sex Days, when the people are provided an hour or less to go about their "business". Their lives are regimented and brutally dominated by mathematical logic... even if it doesn't always add up. Nobody is an individual, and the mere idea of individuality makes the people's skin crawl. To be thoughtful and pragmatic is almost sinful in their world. The similarities between Orwell's and Zamyatin's respective masterpieces (and this is what they are: masterpieces) are striking. They both tell the tale of a man conflicted with guilt and loathing (whether for himself or others) over his betrayal to Big Brother/The Benefactor. They both harbour amorous feelings towards rebellious women, which is ultimately their downfall. They both keep a journal (D-503 more so, as this is what "We" is totally comprised of [his journal; his grand treatise for the Venusians and Uranites, and the other otherworldly beings]). People who act against the leader are vaporised (literally in "We") -- the similarities are almost endless. All in all, a very enjoyable read. I'm not sure if the translation is totally perfect, as some of the imagery seems mildly skewed in places, but perhaps this is exactly how the Russian author intended it to be. There's quite a few mathematical terms in use as well, but this is also, presumably, to show just how ineffably lost their world has become; relying on strict, logical guidelines (numbers), instead of words and free, autonomous thinking.show more
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