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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: 8.2 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,451 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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“[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

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book is incredibly well written and well developed and oh so thought-provoking.
A. Baker
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
Please, do yourself a favor and read the intro (not sure if this edition has it) or Google the author before you read the book.
G. Torres

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Fleisig TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE 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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21 of 23 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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10 of 11 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Erik A. Bloom on April 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am a big fan of dystopia novels and We has long been on the top of my list for novels that I will eventualy get around to read. While We tells an interesting and important story about the loss of identity in a collective soceity, I found it a hard novel to read. It was easy to start but not that easy to finish.

This book and Jack London's 1908 novel The Iron Heel are the protoptype of the modern dystopia novel. We, in particular, was a pioneer in the science fiction sub-genere of future history. Written in 1921, during the Russian Civil War by Zamyatin, a communist and former Bolshevik. As with later dystopian novels, it is not a prediction of what the future could look like as much as an allegory that takes current trends to the logical extreme.

The story is not straight-forward and quite interesting. The protagnist, D-503, like Winston Smith (Nineteen Eighty-Four) or Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), narrates his life in a totalitarian state, the One State. In this case, it is in the form of a journal that will be included in the first space probe. He hopes that it will serve as a tool to "reason" with aliens about the superiority of the One State.

The One State is highly organized. It has stood for 1,000 years, beyond the Green Wall which keeps out all outside influence and contact with the rest of the world. People live and work in glass structures (there are no secrets) and everybody follows a prescribed routine (the Table of Hours).
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