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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than 1984 or Brave New World in my opinion
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...
Published on 25 July 2008 by Too many books

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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. Flawed translation
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...
Published on 16 Oct 2002


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than 1984 or Brave New World in my opinion, 25 July 2008
This review is from: We (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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent translation, 17 Jan 2013
This review is from: We (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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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. Flawed translation, 16 Oct 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: We (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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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We is an interesting classic, 8 April 2006
By 
James (Norfolk, NE USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: We (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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable, 23 Feb 2000
This review is from: We (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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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Important and Overlooked Influence, 14 Feb 2003
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: We (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. This sparks emotions and feelings he's not familiar with, the discovery of a soul within him, and wild mood swings within him as he grapples with the implications of all this. Zamiatin seems to be indicating that in our most primal urges are also the last vestiges of our individual souls. Clearly the novel is meant to attack both the rise of modern industrialism, and totalitarianism in general (not Stalin specifically though, he didn't consolidate his position until almost a decade after the book was written). Zamiatin was a revolutionary, and was jailed by the Czar's secret police on several occasions. He never renounced the revolution but did have plenty to say about those who hijacked it and created the world's most brutally efficient police state (for a good short history of that, see Martin Amis's Koba the Dread). Ultimately, this is an important novel, but not a particularly enjoyable one to read.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An influence on so many things., 17 Sep 2001
This review is from: We (Paperback)
Told in the style of a journal, this is certainly worthy of the comparisons of 1984 and Brave New World but it is also an attack on the totalitarian Soviet Union of the time right down to the description of the mock elections where everybody freely votes for "The Benefactor". Perhaps one of the darker parts which recalls "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" is where an individual imagination is seen to be a dangerous medical problem that could upset the balance of the world but which can easily be cured with what is effectively a lobotomy. For my mind this rates only 4 stars however as I rate 1984 and Brave New World higher but this still remains a fine novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great book, maybe not for the obvious reasons, 6 Sep 2014
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This review is from: We (Kindle Edition)
The 'life in dystopia' nature of this book is what people refer to the most, but this is not really what I was left with. The exagerated nature of the description feels dated in our times where uniformity is achieved not through diktat but though pernicious constraints.
What I was left with was more were the description of human interactions. The D,the S, the I and the O generalised traits remind us of the traits making us and the people around us,The interdependent consequences of their behaviour seem intimately linked with the described environment; yet, we all observe similar effects in ours: this should should make us question the extent of our own alienation.
Talking with a slavonist academic friend of mine(I would be more of an D, myself), I seem to have missed many of the references which I was told are plentiful. It is a bit of a hard read because of the rhythm of the language and the sometimes convoluted phrasing. The contents are well worth it, give it a go (and it is inexpensive)

"“My dear, you are a mathematician, are you not? More than that, a philosopher-mathematician? Well, then, name the last number.” “What is … I … I cannot understand, which last?” “The last one, the highest, the largest.” “But I-330, that’s absurd! Since the number of numbers is infinite, how can there be a last one?” “And why then do you think there is a last revolution … their number is infinite.… The ‘last one’ is a child’s story. Children are afraid of the infinite, and it is necessary that children should not be frightened, so that they may sleep through the night.”
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5.0 out of 5 stars Integral inside an Integral inside an Integral, 20 Feb 2009
By 
Anna Abrahamyan "Annathens" (Belgium) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: We (Paperback)
Zamyatin's WE is the most important literary work on the future and the present and the past of the humanity. His work goes beyond the common conundrum on a collective, monotonous society. How it strives for a perfection in unity and seemingly achieves it and yet, has its proud citizens fallen into an apathy of search of the "corrcet" form of freedom.

The main hero is a brillinat mastermind of a scientist that has invested his very much so reasonable life to the service of the City State - the Integral - for its betterment, roughly speaking going from perfection to super-perfection. His scientific gist is to produce the one precise time and space breaking machine that will transport the society onto a state nearly divine and pure (for that's the aim of any state/law system)...The plot of the novel can be fully expressed with one question: Does the aim really justify the means? ...

From thenon the storyline revolves around not the existence of freedoms and rights themselves but rather the forms and mechanisms of their practice...The integral is to put time/space deadlines in a perfectly formatted manner on THE WAY to think, to be when exercising basic freedoms.

As a catalyst of the perfect integral, Zamyatin brings a parallel world into the story - a world of green, far-stretching-into-the-horizon forests and rivers and a society that lives there seemingly happily ever after, who have it all, including the luxury of spending their time to use their freedom anyway they wish.

The link between these two worlds is an Alice-in-the-Wonderland style vertycal corridor accessible from inside the scientist's non-state-appointed girlfriend's bedroom. Hi state-appointed-and-approved partner is merely in his life for reproductive purposes, whereas the girlfriend character is rather free-willed and a genius when it comes to understanding the scientist's most devoured thoughts, e.g. mathematical equations and theories on integrals.

While the two struggle to convert each other, their passion dies sometime in-between his loyalty to the Wise Man leading the City State and her urge of administering the free-living parallel society.

Zamyatin's tale is merely an expression of the struggle of two constant powers. Contrary to many sci-fi novels, he avoids labeling the struggle as "Good vs Bad" or "East vs West"...His writing is nearly a call of decency to every individual: when pointing at a king and shouting "the Emperor has no clothes", every individual has to be able to see that they, too, "have no clothes", for they were the ones electing the very same people they're chanting again...In short - there IS NO Them...The individuals, the families, the cities, the countries, the world, the universe, the universes - it's all pur and simply "WE". What makes We a WE is when every "ME" is "me" - a non-labelled, non-dependant element whose existence is built on one and only God-given freedom - the CHOICE...

Literally, enjoy reading every single line of this book... If after reading it, you encounter a difficulty to open and enjoy another book just as much, do not wonder why, go back to Zamyatin - the ultimate timeless classic (or choose not to).
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4.0 out of 5 stars Just the pink ticket!!, 23 Oct 2008
By 
Room For A View - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: We (Paperback)
Zambutin offers an imaginative account of what it could be like to live in a state where practically all an individual's daily activities are monitored and subject to the will of a ruthless dictator. In We the fictional internal context is a future society called OneState, where humans are called Numbers and their daily activities (e.g. working, eating, sleeping) are dictated by the Table of Hours. Presiding over the collective is a ruler known as the Benefactor who's will is enforced by the `experienced eye of the Guardians', which may involve coercion, torture (the `Bell') and execution by the `Machine of the Benefactor'. Technology is a significant detail of OneState, particularly the eagerly anticipated launch of a space ship known as the INTEGRAL. Zamyatin's urban landscape is crowded with flying machines, glass steel structures yet devoid of plant and animal life. The Numbers are merely mechanical components of a single system, fed on petroleum food and programmed to respond to a strict timetable. Depersonalisation and system conformity is enforced, for example by a uniform dress code, `Personal Hours' and state controlled child production ; but most importantly, by the mass delusion that freedom is anarchy. The first person narrator D-503, who is the builder of the INTEGRAL , commences his `Records' applauding OneState as `the most perfect form of life' and he scoffs at freedom likening it to the condition of 'beasts'. The antithesis of OneState is the Mephi and what lies beyond the `Green Wall'. Considering the potentially bleak subject matter I found some passages funny particularly D-503's brain-washed, child-like naivety which is conveyed at the start of the book where he is found praising OneState: a society that considers the `Railroad Timetable' to be a monument of `ancient literature'. For me the interest in this book lies in its value as an early example of the Big Brother theme, which is explored in the fine introduction to this edition.
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We (Transaction Large Print)
We (Transaction Large Print) by Yevgeny Zamyatin (Hardcover - 30 Sep 1999)
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