The grand-daddy of all Dystopians

4 out of 5 stars

1984 is easily one of my all-time favorite books.  So, when I heard that “We” was one of the stories that Orwell read that shaped his Big Brother world, I had to read it.  I’m glad that I did.

“We” tells the story of D-503 in the 26th Century.  While being written in the 20’s — some of the stories and ideas within “We” are still valid today, while others do feel a bit dated.

I can definitely tell where Orwell picked up some of his dystopian ideas for 1984 within this book — a lot of the plotlines seem similar “Benefactor” vs Big Brother, main male character writing his thoughts down (and ends up writing down thoughts against the world he currently lives in), and the way a girl/woman can pull them from their normal everyday lives to a new and unique life.

The narration is really well done, the book is very flowy until it’s choppy (which makes no sense until I explain it).  Basically, the story is a journal from D-503.  And sometimes he just stops writing because their leisure time is up, or his thoughts are confused.  And others — D-503 writes long and crazy stories about what is happening to him and what is going to happen. It’s a bit crazy, but I really enjoyed it.

Overall, “We” is a must read for those who love dystopians.  It’s one of the world’s first — and even though it’s almost 100 years old, a lot of the premises will still give you chills today.

Book Description:

Audiobook: We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (Narrated by Grover Gardner)four-stars
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Narrator: Grover Gardner
Length: 6 hrs and 56 mins
Published by Tantor Audio on March 28, 2011
Genres: Dystopian
Format: Audiobook
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Set in the 26th century A.D., Yevgeny Zamyatin's masterpiece describes life under the regimented totalitarian society of OneState, ruled over by the all-powerful "Benefactor." Recognized as the inspiration for George Orwell's 1984, We is the archetype of the modern dystopia, or anti-Utopia: a great prose poem detailing the fate that might befall us all if we surrender our individual selves to some collective dream of technology and fail in the vigilance that is the price of freedom. Clarence Brown's brilliant translation is based on the corrected text of the novel, first published in Russia in 1988 after more than 60 years' suppression.

About the Author:

Yevgeny Zamyatin (Евгений Замятин) Russian novelist, playwright, short-story writer, and essayist, whose famous anti-utopia My (1924, We) prefigured Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), and inspired George Orwell’s 1984 (1949). The book was considered a “malicious slander on socialism” in the Soviet Union, and it was not until 1988 when Zamyatin was rehabilitated. In the English-speaking world, My has appeared in several translations.

“And then, just the way it was this morning in the hangar, I saw again, as though right then for the first time in my life, I saw everything: the unalterably straight streets, the sparkling glass of the sidewalks, the divine parallelepipeds of the transparent dwellings, the squared harmony of our gray-blue ranks. And so I felt that I – not generations of people, but I myself – I had conquered the old God and the old life, I myself had created all this, and I’m like a tower, I’m afraid to move my elbow for fear of shattering the walls, the cupolas, the machines…” (from We, trans. by Clarence Brown)

Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin was born in the provincial town of Lebedian, some two hundred miles south of Moscow. His father was an Orthodox priest and schoolmaster, and his mother musician. He attended Progymnasium in Lebedian and gymnasium in Voronezh. From 1902 to 1908 he studied naval engineering at St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute. While still a student, he joined the Bolshevik Party. In 1905 he made a study trip to the Near East. Due to his revolutionary activities, Zamyatin was arrested in 1905 and exiled. His first short story, ‘Odin’ (1908), drew on his experiences in prison.

Zamyatin applied to Stalin for permission to emigrate in 1931 and lived in Paris until his death.


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