His father was a Russian Orthodox priest and schoolmaster, and his mother a musician. In a essay, Zamyatin recalled, "You will see a very lonely child, without companions of his own age, on his stomach, over a book, or under the piano, on which his mother is playing Chopin. For instance, he saw the letter Л as having pale, cold and light blue qualities. However, he escaped and returned to Saint Petersburg where he lived illegally before moving to the Grand Duchy of Finland in to finish his studies. After returning to Russia, he began to write fiction as a hobby.
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Setting[ edit ] We is set in the future. D, a spacecraft engineer, lives in the One State,  an urban nation constructed almost entirely of glass, which assists mass surveillance.
The structure of the state is Panopticon -like, and life is scientifically managed F. Taylor -style. People march in step with each other and are uniformed. There is no way of referring to people except by their given numbers. The society is run strictly by logic or reason as the primary justification for the laws or the construct of the society.
Like all other citizens of One State, D lives in a glass apartment building and is carefully watched by the secret police , or Bureau of Guardians. She is considered too short to bear children and is deeply grieved by her state in life. While on an assigned walk with O, D meets a woman named I I smokes cigarettes, drinks alcohol, and shamelessly flirts with D instead of applying for an impersonal sex visit; all of these are highly illegal according to the laws of One State.
Both repelled and fascinated, D struggles to overcome his attraction to I She invites him to visit the Ancient House, notable for being the only opaque building in One State, except for windows. Objects of aesthetic and historical importance dug up from around the city are stored there. There, I offers him the services of a corrupt doctor to explain his absence from work. Leaving in horror, D vows to denounce her to the Bureau of Guardians, but finds that he cannot.
He begins to have dreams, which disturbs him, as dreams are thought to be a symptom of mental illness. Slowly, I reveals to D that she is involved with the Mephi, an organization plotting to bring down the One State. She takes him through secret tunnels inside the Ancient House to the world outside the Green Wall, which surrounds the city-state. There, D meets the inhabitants of the outside world: humans whose bodies are covered with animal fur. The aims of the Mephi are to destroy the Green Wall and reunite the citizens of One State with the outside world.
Despite the recent rift between them, O pleads with D to impregnate her illegally. After O insists that she will obey the law by turning over their child to be raised by the One State, D obliges. However, as her pregnancy progresses, O realizes that she cannot bear to be parted from her baby under any circumstances. In his last journal entry, D indifferently relates that he has been forcibly tied to a table and subjected to the "Great Operation", which has recently been mandated for all citizens of One State in order to prevent possible riots;  having been psycho-surgically refashioned into a state of mechanical "reliability", they would now function as "tractors in human form".
After this operation, D willingly informed the Benefactor about the inner workings of the Mephi. However, D expresses surprise that even torture could not induce I to denounce her comrades.
Meanwhile, the Mephi uprising gathers strength; parts of the Green Wall have been destroyed, birds are repopulating the city, and people start committing acts of social rebellion. Dystopian society[ edit ] The dystopian society depicted in We is presided over by the Benefactor  and is surrounded by a giant Green Wall to separate the citizens from primitive untamed nature.
All citizens are known as "numbers". The war only ended after the use of weapons of mass destruction , so that the One State is surrounded with a post-apocalyptic landscape.
Allusions and references[ edit ] Many of the names and numbers in We are allusions to personal experiences of Zamyatin or to culture and literature. For example, "Auditorium " refers to cell number , where Zamyatin was twice imprisoned,  and the name of S is a reference to the Eau de Cologne number Alexander Nevsky.
The numbers [. The snake in this piece is S, who is described as having a bent and twisted form, with a "double-curved body" he is a double agent. References to Mephistopheles in the Mephi are seen as allusions to Satan and his rebellion against Heaven in the Bible Ezekiel —19; Isaiah — The spaceship that D is supervising the construction of is called the Integral , which he hopes will "integrate the grandiose cosmic equation".
Zamyatin even says this through I "There is no final revolution. Revolutions are infinite. The city is laid out as a mandala , populated with archetypes and subject to an archetypal conflict.
One wonders if Zamyatin were familiar with the theories of his contemporary C. Jung or whether it is a case here of the common European zeitgeist. Much of the cityscape and expressed ideas in the world of We are taken almost directly from the works of H.
Wells , a popular apostle of scientific socialist utopia whose works Zamyatin had edited in Russian. In the use of color and other imagery Zamyatin shows he was influenced by Kandinsky and other European Expressionist painters.
The little-known Russian dystopian novel Love in the Fog of the Future , published in by Andrei Marsov, has also been compared to We. Wolfe goes on to use the Integral as a metaphor for the Soviet launch vehicle , the Soviet space programme, or the Soviet Union. No one has a name: women wear even numbers on their tunics, and men wear odd, just as in We. Equality is taken to such lengths that people with well-developed physiques are liable to have lopped limbs.
In Zamyatin, similarly, the equalisation of noses is earnestly proposed. Jerome has anyone with an overactive imagination subjected to a levelling-down operation—something of central importance in We. There is a shared depiction by both Jerome and Zamyatin that individual and, by extension, familial love is a disruptive and humanizing force. The novel was first published in English in by E. A year later, We and Brave New World were published together in a combined edition.
Evgenij Ivanovič Zamjatin
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