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We Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 1983


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My Struggle: Book Four
Eighteen-year-old Karl Ove moves to a tiny fishing village in the Arctic Circle to work as a school teacher. As the nights get longer, the shadow cast by his father's own sharply increasing alcohol consumption, also gets longer. Read the full description
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Fantastic." -- The New York Times

"One of the best!" -- New York Review of Books

"WE is one of the great novels of the twentieth century." -- Irving Howe

Language Notes

Text: English, Russian (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (August 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380633132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380633135
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

182 of 194 people found the following review helpful By B. Alcat on August 9, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937) wrote "We" in 1920, in an URSS that was just beginning to show its true nature. He was able to observe at first hand the consequences of the expansion of the State and the Party, and the corresponding erosion of the value of the individual. The author called "We" his "most jesting and most serious work", and I think the reader will be able to appreciate both aspects of this peculiar book.

This novel takes place in the future, where the One State is ruled by the great Benefactor, and separated from the rest of the world by a Great Wall, that doesn't allow the outside world to "contaminate" it. The citizens of the One State aren't persons but merely numbers. They have almost no privacy, due to the fact that most things are made of a material similar to glass but much more resistant. In any case that isn't a problem, because as everybody does the same things at the same time, nobody has much to hide.

The One State begins to build a spaceship, the "Integral", that will be used to conquer other worlds and show them to be happy, in the way the citizens of the One State are happy. But how exactly are they happy?. Well, they have a rational happiness that can be mathematically proved. To mantain that happiness, they must always follow some rules. For example, there is no place for spontaneity in the One State. Imagination is considered a disease, and all art and poetry must be at the service of the State. The function of poetry is clear: "Today, poetry is no longer the idle, impudent whistling of a nightingale; poetry is civic service, poetry is useful".
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By R. D. Allison (dallison@biochem.med.ufl.edu) on May 21, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel (the edition I read was a translation from the Russian by Mirra Ginsberg in 1972) is an excellent satire by Yevgeny Zamiatin (or, Zamyatin). Reading it, I find it remarkable that Zamiatin was not sent to Siberia or executed in one of the many purges occurring in the Soviet Union at that time. Apparently, the book was never published in the Soviet Union. It appeared first in English in 1924 (and obviously had a major influence in the development of Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four") and then in Czech in 1927. The Soviet authorities began to put pressure on the author through the Writers' Union and, probably due to the help of Maxim Gorky, Zamiatin was allowed to leave for Paris in 1931 (he died in Paris in 1937). The story is an extrapolation of a totalitarian world. The population of Earth that have survived a 200-years war find themselves members of a single state (the One State) where imagination is considered a disease. In this society the individual does not count, only the multitude. The central character is D-503 (all the inhabitants are numbers in this State), a mathematician who is building a space ship to bring their "perfect" world and culture to others. The whole novel consists of D-503's journal. However, D-503 soon meets I-330, a woman who shows him that there are numbers in the One State that feel that the State is in error and are striving for a new revolution. He begins to have strong feelings for her. He thinks he is ill but he can't help himself. And, he must keep his feelings hidden from the Guardians, the One State's "protectors." What a terrific "read." I highly recommend it (as well as "1984" and "Brave New World"). As can be seen in the comments by the other reviewers, "We" is a great book to discuss: with respect to politics, history, science fiction, or literature.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Nathaniel Grublet on April 28, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Other reviewers have had plenty to say about the significance of this book to political and literary history. As an English teacher who regularly teaches an elective in Dystopian Literature, I can't help but agree with their comments.
However, something has been lost in many of the reviews that I've read here. Much of our difficulty in reading and understanding We arises from Zamyatin's ability to effectively adopt his main character's voice and concerns. It is a product of his literary success, not of any clumsiness or mistakes.
We is written in an eccentric voice: the voice of a mathematician and scientist of the twenty-sixth century, D-503, who is gradually confronted with the irrationality of his own self. As the book opens, he is self-assured and composed. He dazzles us with his mathematical metaphors for the beauty of OneState and his praise for its hyperrational society.
As the book progresses, however, D-503 becomes gradually more confused, conflicted, and, in his own words, "ill." He begins to enjoy irrational things (like "ancient" music), to want irrational things (like sex outside of the prescribed Sex Days), and to avoid rational behaviors (like turning in I-330 when he realizes what she is up to).
Since We is written in the first person, it only makes sense that as D-503 struggles to understand what is happening to him, we too should struggle. The simple, mathematical prose with which D-503 opens the book gives way to an increasingly confused jumble of thoughts. Zamyatin intentionally includes us in D-503's psychological journey. Not until the last chapter, when D-503's conflict is resolved, is clarity of voice reestablished.
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