1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 169: We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, though not highly syllabised, remains an influential work, if not directly than certainly through the authors he has influenced, not the least of which is George Orwell, who was inspired by Zamyatin’s work to write 1984, and it was also certainly an inspiration to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.  Like 1984, Zamyatin’s We is a brilliant satire of totalitarianism and employs Hobbesian theory via his concept of “The One State”, and there are also Milton aspects to its arguments against censorship.  And like 1984 there is a less than optimistic outcome where the state seems to extinguish all hope of humanity.  But also at the center of Zamyatin’s We, is a love story, though it is a very different love story than the one Orwell presents in 1984.  D-503 (names in this dystopian tale are replaced by letter/number combinations) is the builder of “The Integral” a shuttle that will travel to distant worlds.  A group of revolutionaries though aim to hijack the Integral and target D-503 to do so, hoping to corrupt him and tempt him with the beautiful I-330.  D-503 falls in love with I-330 only to find out that she did not love him and was only used him to gain access to the Integral.  It is a heartbreaking realization.  D-503 is like any person who is eager to believe that somebody sees something special in him and wishes to share their love with them because of his or her uniqueness, but this belief is quashed as he realizes that I-330 affections were only an act and that he had given up on another love in favour of this false one.  Once his love is quashed, so too is his soul, only this time by the state who has developed a medical procedure that allows them to remove the part of the brain that is the source of one’s imagination.  D-503’s soul is what defines him, and once it is gone, so too is his humanity.  Translated from the original Russian, We may lose something in translation, but it remains a work well worth reading.

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

Speak Your Mind