Daily Archives: August 10, 2012


A friend mentioned WE a dystopian novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin. WE takes place in the th century and think of our era as the time of the Ancients. The One State governs and all the buildings are made of glass walls so there’s no privacy whatsoever. People don’t live in families and there’s no such thing as love or romance. You have an assigned (not forced or arranged, there’s some choice or regard for preferences) partner and have pink tickets that tell you what time and day you’re scheduled to have sex. Then you can lower your blinds. Children are raised in a state run institution and don’t feature much into people’s lives.

WE chronicles the life of D-503, a mathematician. To him math and numbers explain everything and are extremely beautiful and perfect. D-503 and his best friend, a poet, R-13 share a pinkish lover, O-90 who’s not permitted to have a child because she’s too short. Thus the society, the state guarantees perfect future generations. O-90’s nice enough, but when D-503 encounters the audacious, smoking, flirty, older I-330, he can’t say no and this unsanctioned affair leads him into conflict with the all powerful One State and its leader the Benefactor.

WE greatly influenced George Orwell to write 1984, a classic and bleaker story. (Not that WE offers a happy ending.) It’s an intriguing novel and Zamyatin definitely writes well. It’s a good addition to this sub genre. The feel of the novel is quite impersonal and rather clinical, but that’s the point.

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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in classic, Russian Literature