maandag 12 oktober 2015

Yevgeny Zamyatin: We


This review is about We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.
My copy has 203 pages story, 6 pages Introduction and 2 pages Translator’s Note.

“In the One State of the great Benefactor, there are no individuals, only numbers. Life is an ongoing process of mathematical precision, a perfectly balanced equation. Primitive passions and instincts have been subdued. Even nature has been defeated, banished behind the Green Wall. But one frontier remains: outer space. Now, with the creation of the spaceship Integral, that frontier -- and whatever alien species are to be found there -- will be subjugated to the beneficent yoke of reason.
One number, D-503, chief architect of the Integral, decides to record his thoughts in the final days before the launch for the benefit of less advanced societies. But a chance meeting with the beautiful I-330 results in an unexpected discovery that threatens everything D-503 believes about himself and the One State. The discovery -- or rediscovery -- of inner space...and that disease the ancients called the soul.”

We was written in 1921 and it was a major influence on the two most well known dystopian novels ever; 1984 and Brave New World
Because I love both I felt like I needed to read this one too.

The novel is a written record by our protagonist, D-503 (or D) like a diary with scattered thoughts, disjointed sentences and random entries.
These entries feel very cold and detached and I didn’t really care about any of the characters or the unfolding events.
I suppose that’s exactly what Zamyatin wanted us to feel like because it works great for the story and the characters aren’t meant to be likeable.
The novel is slow going at first and hard to understand but if you keep going it gets interesting.

Our protagonist, D, fully believes in the One State, he’s not the one with doubts as in so many other novels. No, he is happy with his life and he actually, truly believes in the system. He thinks like an indoctrinated mathematician. And he keeps thinking like that throughout the novel. D is not the quintessential rebel. I found this to be a very interesting and unusual point of view.

The ending was most definitely an inspiration for George Orwell.

Freedom allows chaos and chaos is not a part of true happiness. Imagination and improvisation are freedom and thus they are chaos.
One State is a completely machinelike, controlled society with no room for individuality or any form of freedom. The glass houses are an example of this theory.
In this One State there are only designations and numbers. This is a simple way to dehumanize every person in this state. Can you imagine your life that way?
Theoretical happiness and complete health have made way for freedom.

Highly recommended if you have an interest or a passion for Classics or Dystopian Fiction.

Happy reading!