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We (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – July 11, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (July 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081297462X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812974621
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First published in the Soviet 1920s, Zamyatin's dystopic novel left an indelible watermark on 20th-century culture, from Orwell's 1984 to Terry Gilliam's movie Brazil. Randall's exciting new translation strips away the Cold War connotations and makes us conscious of Zamyatin's other influences, from Dostoyevski to German expressionism. D-503 is a loyal "cipher" of the totalitarian One State, literally walled in by glass; he is a mathematician happily building the world's first rocket, but his life is changed by meeting I-330, a woman with "sharp teeth" who keeps emerging out of a sudden vampirish dusk to smile wickedly on the poor narrator and drive him wild with desire. (When she first forces him to drink alcohol, the mind leaps to Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel.) In becoming a slave to love, D-503 becomes, briefly, a free man. In Randall's hands, Zamyatin's modernist idiom crackles ("I only remember his fingers: they flew out of his sleeve, like bundles of beams"), though the novel sometimes seems prophetic of the onset of Stalinism, particularly in the bleak ending. Modern Library's reintroduction of Zamyatin's novel is a literary event sure to bring this neglected classic to the attention of a new readership. (On sale July 11)
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“[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

Customer Reviews

Once I started reading the book I could not stop, I read all evening and went to bed at 3am, and the book completely captured me.
Masha Taruntayeva
It was the inspiration behind George Orwell's book 1984, and other subsequent books of the utopian/dystopian sub-genre, such as Union Moujik, Brave World.
John T C
This is a superb work of science fiction, and I'm sorry it's not as well known as its dystopian counterparts 1984 and Brave New World.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig VINE VOICE on August 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
and we are all together.

The Beatles' "I am the Walrus" provides some flavor for the atmosphere of the futuristic society found in Yevgeny Zamyatin's dystopian classic "WE". Written in the fledgling Soviet Union in 1920 "WE" had a direct influence n Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Ayn Rand's Anthem. In fact, Rand's Anthem tracks "WE" so closely both as to plot and character development that one cannot help but think that Zamyatin's influence on Rand was significant, to say the least.

Zamyatin was born in 1884 and studied naval engineering as a young man. Like many young Russian intellectuals Zamyatin was something of a revolutionary. He was arrested and exiled more than once by the Tsar's secret police for revolutionary activities. During the First World War Zamyatin, by now a naval enginner, was sent to England were he supervised the construction of icebreakers for the Russian navy. He returned to Russia upon the outbreak of the October 1917 revolution. Zamyatin turned to writing full time after the revolution. Although a Bolshevik, Zamyatin chafed at the increasing censorship the Bolsheviks imposed on artists and writers. WE was the first novel to be banned by the newly formed literary censorship board, GLAVLIT. WE was not officially published in Russia or the USSR until 1988. Not able to earn a living as a writer in the USSR, Zamyatin applied for an exit visa. Zamyatin was granted an exit visa and he emigrated to Paris, were he died a sick and poverty stricken man in 1937.

WE takes place in the twenty-sixth century where a totalitarian regime has created an extremely regimented society where individual expression simply does not exist.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By MonkeyTurtle on September 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
I was very excited about reading this book. The premise sounded engaging. This book is remarkable for the time period in which this was written, and that it clearly formed the foundation and inspiration for many dystopian writers to come. The story seems visionary and predictive of many social trends that would follow. For these things, I loved the book.

However, my interest for the story and the writing style waned in the first 100 pages. It started to feel a little slow, and the cryptic style became a little repetitive after awhile. After a fast start, I found my reading pace slowing down to a crawl, and I reluctantly stopped reading. I wanted to enjoy this book much more than I did. Even though I stopped reading, I gave it 4 stars because of the groundbreaking premise and inspiration it provided. The interest clearly hasn't waned for many.

This classic is definitely worth a try - it may well catch fire for you as it has for so many others.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mark Nadja on July 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
The prototype directly or indirectly, acknowledged or unacknowledged of many a subsequent sci-fi dystopia, including Orwell's *1984* and Huxley's *Brave New World,* Zamyatin's *We* is a concise masterpiece that manages in its 200 pages to say everything that needed saying on the subject of the struggle of the individual in the face of the totalitarianism of the collective "good."

The novel is ostensibly the journal of D-503, a literally nameless cypher among millions of others who make up the One State. Here everyone lives in identical glass apartments, all rising together, working together, eating together, and assembling together to give thanks to the Great Benefactor who has bestowed upon them this perfectly synchronous society.

With wit and irony, Zamyatin "proves" the indisputably mathematical rationality of conformity--and the irrationality of freedom. Can you imagine, for instance, anything more irresponsible than leaving to chance the result of an election that would determine who governed the masses? What if every cell in the body decided to follow its own will and fulfill its own purpose--wouldn't the result be cancer? Just so, a society not strictly regulated, where the sum isn't sublimated to the whole, results in chaos and collapse. Happiness is a function of order--just as Plato argued. The One State is the logical conclusion of the principles of order applied to the body politick and represents the greatest good of the greatest number.

In the One State, having a soul is a sickness for which one should seek a cure as quickly as possible--even where it requires a surgical excision of the affected brain tissue.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steven on February 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
We was a life-changing book for me.

We is an amazing piece of literature that is often overlooked. Well, during the time of this review Orwell's amazing book 1984 was ranked 689 in Amazons sales rank, but We, which is the key influence behind 1984, is ranked 23,211 for the Natasha Randall translation and 403,227 for the Alan Sillitoe translation. Actually, I discovered We while browsing the internet looking for "Best dystopian novels". Many of the lists that I found didn't have We but I noticed in every one of these blogs there were quite a few people yelling "What about We! That's the greatest dystopian science fiction book of all time!". I kept seeing "We" pop up all over these blogs so I made it my next book to read.

I apologize for this review, it is a bit long-winded I know.

Since 1984 was the last book I read, I am going to do a little bit of comparing/contrasting.

There are more similarities between We and 1984 than differences. Both books are about totalitarianism, or complete government control. In We it's 'The Benefactor' and in 1984 it's "Big Brother". In both books the protaganist is a male working for the government. Both books have a female character that draws the male away from conformity. Both books even have a secret place where the male and female frequent. While reading We I could definitely see where 1984 was influenced.

There is one big difference in my mind though. The prose in both books is vastly different. Orwell's 1984 is an easier read and We is a bit harder to grasp at first. We is highly metaphorical where-as 1984 is more 'in your face'.

One of the greatest aspects of We is that it just feels more raw to me. 1984 was edited and distilled into perfection but We feels more personal.
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