4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Join D-503 on his journey into "illness"
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...
Published on April 28 2004 by Nathaniel Grublet
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Cautionary Tale
This futuristic novel written in 1921 by the Soviet Union's Yevgeny Zamyatin is said to be the inspiration for Brave New World and 1984. I see why that is. All three are scary in how bleak they predict the future to be.
I enjoyed this book, however I think Brave New World improved upon the writing style and story. I found "WE" a bit choppy and repetitive in...
Published on Sept. 3 2007 by Teddy
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Join D-503 on his journey into "illness",
This review is from: We (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.
Following someone's deepest internal struggles, by examining both what is said and what is left unsaid, is one of our most challenging reading experiences. That difficulty, however, doesn't betray Zamyatin's weakness as an author but rather his sensitivity to the character he created.
As a work of literature, We doesn't need to be defended. For those who are willing to invest the time, D-503 is anything but flat. He comes alive as a character caught between a society he admires and his own irrational urges. Whether you have read 1984, Brave New World, or any other dystopias, We is well worth your reading and rereading.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Cautionary Tale,
This review is from: We (Mass Market Paperback)This futuristic novel written in 1921 by the Soviet Union's Yevgeny Zamyatin is said to be the inspiration for Brave New World and 1984. I see why that is. All three are scary in how bleak they predict the future to be.
I enjoyed this book, however I think Brave New World improved upon the writing style and story. I found "WE" a bit choppy and repetitive in places. I also found it hard to keep track of the characters because they were numbers as opposed to names. However, this was a deliberate devise used by Zamyatin to prove his point, and it worked well.
This is a good book to read for any fan of the dystopian genre.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's alright,
By A Customer
This review is from: We (Mass Market Paperback)We've all read 1984, we've all seen the movie, and we've all used the term, "Big Brother" in our modern day society; and it's pretty clear that all of us have a good understanding of what a dystopia is.
But I really wished I didn't because Zamyatin's We would've been a great read. However, it's got some interesting concepts like the, "Integral" a giant ship the builders make so their society can use it to explore new worlds and colonize distant lands; and everything in their society is constructed from glass so everyone sees all with the exception of sexual intercourse which is conducted behind a curtain. The story is well written, although it becomes a little frustrating when you're reading d-503's new found thoughts and sensations because his mind goes all over the place. The story is well structured, but towards the end the story becomes all too familiar with fans who take interests in dystopian sci-fi.
But that's the probelm! Because of Orwell's '84, movies like Brazil and Kafka, and other dystopian novels this book becomes predictable and trite! The only thing that kept me hooked was the technology and mathematics they used in the book-other than that it really didn't grab me.
It's not like this book is bad, don't get me wrong, I just wished I read We first. But go pick up the book if you're just getting into this genre and you'll find yourself having a great time.
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Intelligent For Me,
This review is from: We (Mass Market Paperback)"WE" by the Russian Yevgeny Zamyatin was doubtless an exciting revelation when it was penned during the last century of the previous millenium, but I found it tediously dry. It was like those boring novels they used to force you to read in high school. These days I prefer Dashiell Hammett or Phillip Kerr. Plain speaking and to the point. As for Sci-Fi, I'd rather read Asimov or even Bradbury, than some probably poorly translated Ruskie. I found the whole thing too gloomy and just put it down. Maybe I'll try it again sometime when I'm in the mood for ancient social commentary.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Cautionary Tale About Government Control!,
This review is from: We (Mass Market Paperback)We was written before 1984 and Brave New World, and yet I never heard of it until coming across it on a store shelf! It's a haunting scifi story and too good not to tell others about. It is also similar in some ways to The Giver. Written in the form of the journals of a tormented genius, D-503 lives in a world so bizarre that it almost seems like he is inside a computer. Each "number" is almost identical, and most are expendable, but he is the builder of a great starship, therefore of importance to the One State, and so is granted more tolerance when his behavior gets eccentric. Life is totally regimented except for 2 personal hours each day, and even then, most numbers either go for a walk or get a coupon allowing them to have sex with a partner they have registered with. D-503 has one male friend, a Black poet who writes for the State, and a female partner who he shares with his friend. Like all oppressive states, this one has an underground, and D-503's life falls into disarray when he meets and falls in love with I-330, a mysterious woman of the resistance. There is little in this world that stands out, but the author focuses on facial features and body shapes that attract and repel him at the same time. His mind whirling in confusion, he goes to a doctor who says he is sick because he has developed a soul, and that the condition is "incurable." Yet he is given permission to be sick because he is so important. As the time for the ship's launch is at hand, to spread "perfect happiness" throughout the universe, the resistance bubbles to the surface, and the state devises a ghastly cure for imagination, the last shred of humanity that is left. Society explodes in chaos as numbers refuse to submit to the Great Operation that will take away their imagination, their resistance, and with it, their soul. To tell any more would ruin the story. A word of warning: DON'T read the introduction before the story, it tells how the story ends!
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow,
This review is from: We (Mass Market Paperback)This 1920 book is a powerful example of prototype dystopian science fiction. It exists on more than just one or two levels. Impeccable math and science (Zamyatin was a Naval architect), religious imagery, jokes (that's right), and of course, scathing political prophecy are all present in this melting pot. Not to mention it's actually a fun read! The influence of this novel cannot be overstated in the political history of the world and in the science fiction genre. The amount of subtleties in this book that aren't shoved down your throat will guarantee your continued (and renewed) enjoyment of successive reads; there's something new on every round. Clocking in at a modest 232 pages for the paperback edition, it won't take you that long, though you may find yourself spending a lot of time in thought after finishing it.
I've heard that there are better translations than this one. It's all a matter of preference, really, and this is the one that's most widely available. If you fancy yourself a science fiction fan or politically aware, this is more than worth your time.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Granddaddy of all Negative Utopias,
By A Customer
This review is from: We (Mass Market Paperback)If you liked 1984 and Brave New World...this is a must by the great Russian writer Zamyatin....and this is definitely a top notch translation....you can't go wrong with this one...it will keep you on the edge of your seat and you will not be able to put it down.....this is the best of the Dystopia genre.
3.0 out of 5 stars The Mathmeticians Apocalyptic Vision,
This review is from: We (Mass Market Paperback)Anyone who reads "We" and "Brave New World" will notice an astounding number of similarities, enough to make one wonder whether Huxley borrowed a little more than he should have. Nonetheless, this is a pretty good apocalyptic novel. I would rank it somewhere above the aformentioned "Brave New World" and below "1984". Perhaps the most interesting thing about the novel is the mathematical subtext. Zamyatin was a professional mathmetician and the names of his characters (which are numbers) supposedly are part of some master equation. Unfortunately, my Russian isn't up to reading the book in the original. Neither is my math, for that matter. But this is a quick read, very much a product of its time and location. It will probably take you an afternoon; and there are certainly worse ways to spend an afternoon.
5.0 out of 5 stars Prophetic,
This review is from: We (Mass Market Paperback)This is a desperate plea to open ones eyes and view the stark truth of collectivism, totalitarianism, State control and the reduction of individuals to a cog in a wheel. Written from Russia in the early 20th century directly after the Red victory, it literally radiates with a forceful tale of evil in the guise of good. Worse, the evil thinks it is good.
Modern totalitarian states are based on the premise of a Utopia - entites that are by their very nature static and unchanging. No surprises, no questioning, everything planned to the last nut and bolt. This utter predictability is a major drawing card for the masses since both democracy and capitalism are messy, unplanned, redundant yet gloriously effective in granting to the individual almost unlimited freedom.
The novel reminds one of Anthem by Rand in its depiction of the solitary man attempting to rise above the herd. Then again, one hears echoes of 1984 and the everpresent voice of Big Brother. In all three cases, the State strives to eliminate any display of personal privacy. Remarkably, WE was completed long before either of these and holds up well today.
Modern technology has allowed the State to become all powerful, all-intrusive, awesome in its ability to warp and trap the minds of human beings. The scariest messages today are those promising planned societies in which everyone has their place while the benevolent leaders care for us all - shades of North Korea.
Russia has always been a collectivist nation from its earliest days. Whether it was tribe, religion, Party, economic class, ethnic class - the group was always paramoung over the individual. This book is a lesson we shun at our own peril.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Piece of Speculative Fiction and History,
By A Customer
This review is from: We (Mass Market Paperback)We is an SF (speculative fiction) novel about a man living in a futuristic distopia, and is the predecessor to other distopian novels such as Brave New World and 1984. It was written in 1921 by Zamyatin in communist Russia and he was exiled because of it, but still managed to get it circulated throughout the world. The novel is written in a series of entries each beginning with a few set out topics and the number of the entry it is. The man is the builder of a new spaceship called the 'integral,' a ship whose purpose is to bring "mathematically infallible happiness" to galactic civilizations. He writes a journal to his ancestors before the 'one state' in which he lives, which makes the book unique and interesting to read.
His writing style is interesting because of the entry format and his writing to the past from the future. The image that he is trying to is one of communism in Russia, and how it will become universal and almost unquestionable in the future. It contributes the element of big brother in 1984 just without the cameras; instead, they have everything made of a high-tech glass. In addition, it contributed the reservation system to Brave New World by having a jungle like world outside the walls of the city. It has the obvious theme of that someone is always watching, and questions if our world will become one state working for the common good.
The whole society is based on happiness and making sure that no one is ever in a place were they want to rebel, but just in case there is a futuristic torture device. Of course, the narrator decides to rebel from the beginning of the novel, showing the theme that society as a whole cannot be completely contained even in a perfect ignorant society. The end though is very shocking and compares a lot to that of 1984, it is predictable if you have read 1984 but the ideas of the novel are way beyond its time.
I cannot state that it is a better novel then 1984 or Brave New World it is just comparable and a wonderful worthwhile read. Its themes and ideas are way beyond its time especially for being written only in the beginnings of communism. We is a bold and strong novel that portrays what it sets out to and proves that communism or any government cannot hold down the human nature of rebellion. This novel is a testament of a man who saw the beginnings of the end in Russia and had the courage to stand out and write this great SF novel. His conviction and ideas are vividly portrayed because he was actually living in the beginnings of this, and I recommend this novel highly to any SF fan or curious reader, it is a great piece of literature and history.
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We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (Mass Market Paperback - Aug. 1 1983)
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