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We Paperback – 25 Nov 1993

4.3 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews

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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 1.3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

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

[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"

From the Back Cover

Before Brave New World... Before 1984... There was We

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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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 has able to observe at first hand the consequences of the expansion of the State and the Party, and the corresponding diminution 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 all do the same things at the same time, so they don't have 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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