Stuff Worth Reading: We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

In light of the new-fangled interest in dystopian fiction, I am constantly reminded of We, another Russian book I read while at New College (yeah, I thought I would be a Russian lit major for a little while, until I realized I would have to actually speak Russian….).

Yevgeny Zamyatin was a Bolshevik fairly frightened by some of the policies enacted by his own party after the revolution. He wrote We in 1923, envisioning a panopticon-like government that could watch your every move. People were assigned numbers rather than names, and every aspect of life was regulated.

The book is told through diary entries of the fairly wishy-washy, engineer “hero” D-503 as he falls in love with a woman struggling to get pregnant and bring down the evil One State (ug that the female protagonist’s main goal is to get pregnant). Though the writing isn’t the best, I actually enjoyed We much more than 1984 or Brave New World, both clearly influenced by Zamyatin’s vision of an over-regulated future.

If you want to read some good old fashioned dystopian nightmare, this is a great place to start.

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