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We (1920) - Yevgeny Zamyatin

Related: allegory - Russian literature - 1920 - science fiction - dystopia - communism

We (1920) - Yevgeny Zamyatin [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


In the One State of the great Benefactor, there are no individuals, only numbers. Life is an ongoing process of mathematical precision, a perfectly balanced equation. Primitive passions and instincts have been subdued. Even nature has been defeated, banished behind the Green Wall. But one frontier remains: outer space. Now, with the creation of the spaceship Integral, that frontier -- and whatever alien species are to be found there -- will be subjugated to the beneficent yoke of reason.

One number, D-503, chief architect of the Integral, decides to record his thoughts in the final days before the launch for the benefit of less advanced societies. But a chance meeting with the beautiful 1-330 results in an unexpected discovery that threatens everything D-503 believes about himself and the One State. The discovery -- or rediscovery -- of inner space...and that disease the ancients called the soul.

A page-turning SF adventure, a masterpiece of wit and black humor that accurately predicted the horrors of Stalinism, We is the classic dystopian novel. Its message of hope and warning is as timely at the end of the twentieth century as it was at the beginning.

We (1920) is a novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin. It was written in response to the author's personal experiences with the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917. We is a futuristic dystopic satire, generally considered to be the grandfather of the genre. It takes the totalitarian and conformative aspects of Communism to an extreme conclusion, depicting a state that believes that free will is the cause of unhappiness, and that citizen's lives should be controlled with mathematical precision (among many other innovations, Zamyatin's future vision includes houses, and indeed everything else made of glass or other transparent materials, so that everyone is constantly visible).

The story is told in the diary of the protagonist, called "D-503", in which he describes his work building a spaceship, "The Integral", whose purpose is to seek out and convert any extraterrestrial civilizations to the happiness that the One State has discovered, and his misadventures with a resistance group that seeks to do away with the Benefactor, a big brother type factor and his regime.

The novel was banned by Stalin and got Zamyatin arrested, though he eventually was released and exiled to Paris. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_%28novel%29 [Sept 2004]

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