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We Paperback – 25 Nov 1993


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (25 Nov. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140185852
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140185850
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.4 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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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

About the Author

Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin (1884-1937) was a naval architect by profession and a writer by nature. His favorite idea was the absolute freedom of the human personality to create, to imagine, to love, to make mistakes, and to change the world. This made him a highly inconvenient citizen of two despotisms, the tsarist and the Communist, both of which exiled him, the first for a year, the latter forever. He wrote short stories, plays, and essays, but his masterpiece is We, written in 1920-21 and soon thereafter translated into most of the languages of the world. It first appeared in Russia only in 1988. It is the archetype of the modern dystopia, or anti-utopia; a great prose poem on the fate that might befall all of us if we surrender our individual selves to some collective dream of technology and fail in the vigilance that is the price of freedom. George Orwell, the author of 1984, acknowledged his debt to Zamyatin. The other great English dystopia of our time, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, was evidently written out of the same impulse, though without direct knowledge of Zamyatin's We.Clarence Brown is the author of several works on the Russian poetOsip Mandelstam. He is editor of The Portable Twentieth-Century RussianReader, which contains his translation of Zamyatin's short story "TheCave," and of Yury Olesha's novel Enpy.Clarence Brown is the author of several works on the Russian poetOsip Mandelstam. He is editor of The Portable Twentieth-Century RussianReader, which contains his translation of Zamyatin's short story "TheCave," and of Yury Olesha's novel Enpy.

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I am merely copying out here, word for word, what was printed today in the State Gazette: In 120 days from now the building of the INTEGRAL will be finished. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Too many books on 25 July 2008
Format: Paperback
Not only the original for 1984 and Brave New World and the other dystopian novels, but better than them too, in my view. Some people have knocked it for its complexity, for its comparative lack of plausibility, but the truth is that "We" is far more subtle, and its society is far more unsettling and terrifying. Some have criticised the translations, but I found the Penguin translation very good and readable: Zamyatin called it a "prose poem", and it had that quality, particularly when read aloud.

The narrator is not like the comparatively rational but disaffected characters of 1984 or Brave New World, he is a deeply confused, emotionally traumatised atomised ant, trying to gain some control over his thoughts and feelings to find a way to crawl out of his suffering. It has both the sense of wonder of a good SF novel, while having at times the psychological feeling of Dostoyevsky.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 23 Feb. 2000
Format: Paperback
Forget the comparisons with Orwell's 1984, Zamyatin's work stands as a remarkable message about Russia's desperate resignation to Stalin and Communism. Unsurprisingly curtailed in his native country, Zamyatin saw his nation's descent into a subservient mass of workers as terrifying. A tale of a historically tragic people transplanted into a numeric dystopia, and a reminder that the individual has to fight for the right to express himself and be aware of the consequences. The only element I dislike of this translation is Clarence Brown's snobbish and ignorant view of science fiction in his introduction. Worth reading alongside "1984" and "Brave New World" to complete a circle of complimentary fiction.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
This book has an excellent and thought provoking story, and as has been noted is the inspiration for parts of 1984.
However this version of the book is spoiled by being translated into a very American version of English. This reads very oddly in places with all sorts of Americanisms that seem out of place in a Russian novel.
The introduction is very long winded and doesn't do the book justice. It treats the novel as some kind of historic curiosity rather than a book that's really worth reading. The introduction also makes the cardinal sin of giving away too much of the storyline, which is annoying if like me you read it before starting on the novel itself.
3 stars. Would have been 4 if the book had been translated and packaged better.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ocean on 17 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
better than Randall and Glinka versions in flow of narrative and accuracy of text ; thought provoking, wry humour and original -- subtlety hopeful
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By James on 8 April 2006
Format: Paperback
WE is a true classic and an extraordinary novel in many senses. 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 NEW WORLD. The age-old conflict between individual self and the collective being that man has grappled with in our efforts to become more human is treated beautifully in thus book. What is peculiar about it is that the author never allowed politics to dominate. Overall, the Utopian-Fantasy is a recommended read.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Feb. 2003
Format: Hardcover
The key difficulty in reading this influential dystopian novel is that virtually everyone who cracks the cover, does so having already read 1984 and Brave New World. To a very large degree that is a pity, since this work predates those considerably-Orwell cited it as the key influence on 1984. However, once you've read those, Zamiatin's work has little new to offer, and unfolds in much less readable language. Our book group read it and discussed it with great vigor, but ultimately concluded that we wouldn't recommend it to anyone who had already read Orwell and Huxley's works.
The story is related through the diary entries of D-503, a rather important cog in the machine of a future city state which has hermetically sealed itself from the wild and primal outside world that is left after the Two Hundred Years War. The staccato form of the entries makes for rather cumbersome and occasionally confusing reading. The society is strictly regimented, everyone wears the same uniform, and follows set schedules throughout the day, and literally lives in glass houses. The aim of the society is to scientifically manage everyone's time and energy for maximum efficiency and smoothness, a notion Zamiatin extrapolated from the writings of Frederick Winslow Taylor, the founder of modern scientific management principles, who was highly influential in the early part of the 20th century. However, this "perfect" society-where happiness is considered inversely proportional to freedom-has yet to figure out a way to eliminate that most primal of urges, sex.
This achilles heel is what sets things in motion, as D-503, who is the lead engineer in the construction of a rocket ship being designed to expand the society to other worlds, falls for a dishy rebel who has access to the outside world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Vickie on 6 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
I read this book following yet another re-read of Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty Four,' and it is staggering just how much influence 'We' has had on Orwell's political commentary. Although a translation of the Russian original, I firmly believe that this novel maintains its authenticity, although I do agree with a fellow reviewer in that the translation appears slightly too Americanised. The title, 'We' truly establishes this novel's flavour. The citizens of 'One State,' mechanically working together to oppress personal thought, to wipe out the sickness of the 'soul,' are referred to as We many times in the protagonist's records. D-503, a man who immerses himself in numbers, in logic and in precision finds himself doubting his structured lifestyle, thanks predominantly, to the boy-meets-girl love interest. The reader follows D-503 through a personal struggle which grapples favour between collective and private ideology. Zamyatin's dystopian world appears so pristine and perfect from the glass surface, yet throughout the many records of D-503's 'sickness,' cracks appear in the structure. The climax of this novel is, fundamentally, a rebellion against the 'Benefactor,' which shrivels out tragically. There is a poignancy in the conclusion of the novel, where the personality of D-503 is finally submerged and made 'perfect' by the state, acting as Zamyatin's final sinister warning to his fellow citizens of Russia. A little hard to read in places, but all in all an essential- especially if you wish to delve into the inspirations of the modern dystopian novel.
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