2003-08-06: We

We (1921, tr 1972)

by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937), tr Mirra Ginsburg (1909-2000)

I read this book because of Ursula K Le Guin’s recommendation, in Language of the Night. It certainly proved worthwhile, and adds to her already-high reputation with me.

The book has a blurb on the cover: The most influential science fiction novel of the 20th century. It could well be true.

The book was written early in the Soviet experiment, and is largely a protest against unanimity, or rather the demand for unanimity. Zamyatin suffered for his outspoken position, exiled to France where he was unproductive.

The book was clearly a major source for Orwell’s 1984. Both works clearly distinguish European science fiction from the anemic American variety. Anyone who appreciates 1984 should read We.


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