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We: A Novel

We: A Novel

Написано Yevgeny Zamyatin

Озвучено Louise Brealey, Margaret Atwood и Toby Jones


We: A Novel

Написано Yevgeny Zamyatin

Озвучено Louise Brealey, Margaret Atwood и Toby Jones

оценки:
3/5 (1 860 оценки)
Длина:
9 часов
Издатель:
Издано:
2 нояб. 2021 г.
ISBN:
9780063068469
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Описание

The chilling dystopian novel that influenced George Orwell while he was writing 1984, with a new introduction by Margaret Atwood and an essay by Ursula Le Guin

In a glass-enclosed city of perfectly straight lines, ruled over by an all-powerful “Benefactor,” the citizens of the totalitarian society of OneState are regulated by spies and secret police; wear identical clothing; and are distinguished only by a number assigned to them at birth. That is, until D-503, a mathematician who dreams in numbers, makes a discovery: he has an individual soul. He can feel things. He can fall in love. And, in doing so, he begins to dangerously veer from the norms of his society, becoming embroiled in a plot to destroy OneState and liberate the city.

Set in the twenty-sixth century AD, We was the forerunner of canonical works from George Orwell and Alduous Huxley, among others. It was suppressed for more than sixty years in Russia and remains a resounding cry for individual freedom, as well as a powerful, exciting, and vivid work of science fiction that still feels relevant today. Bela Shayevich’s bold new translation breathes new life into Yevgeny Zamyatin’s seminal work and refreshes it for our current era. 

Издатель:
Издано:
2 нояб. 2021 г.
ISBN:
9780063068469
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Об авторе

Yevgeny Zamyatin was born in Russia in 1884. Arrested during the abortive 1905 revolution, he was exiled twice from St. Petersburg, then given amnesty in 1913. We, composed in 1920 and 1921, elicited attacks from party-line critics and writers. In 1929, the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers launched an all-out attack against him. Denied the right to publish his work, he requested permission to leave Russia, which Stalin granted in 1931. Zamyatin went to Paris, where he died in 1937. Mirra Ginsburg is a distinguished translator of Russian and Yiddish works by such well-known authors as Mikhail Bulgakov, Isaac Babel, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. Editor and translator of three anthologies of Soviet science fiction, she has also edited and translated A Soviet Heretic: Essays by Yevgeny Zamyatin, and History of Soviet Literature by Vera Alexandrova.


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3.1
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  • (5/5)
    The prototype of dystopian literature. Better than 1984 said Orwell. Masterfully thought-provoking. The ancillary material- Atwood, Le Guin, the translator - make this the edition to read.
    And the narration? So superbly heartfelt and intelligent that the listener is effectively transported into the world the author intended.
  • (1/5)
    Not rating the book- rating the fact the it is unavailable now. Russian literary authors- who are long dead- should not be apart of this political cancellation war.
  • (4/5)
    I never heard of it before. Reading it felt like what I imagine reading Neuromancer must be like to a cyberpunk fan who's read 100s of modern cyberpunk novels.
  • (4/5)
    This is the dystopian novel that inspired Brave New World, Animal Farm, and 1984. This is a book about communism run rampart, where everything is dictated by numbers, even names of people.The world of the One State is ingeniously written, instead of Human Instinct being suppressed, it re-directs its citizens to hate those that the state hates, love what the state loves. It even manages to have poetry that is about the perfection of math. As a result, strong attachment towards others is to be a sickness.The story is written through a diary/journal type. Each day, entry. The Builder (D-503, everyone is a number in this world) of the ship Integral, whose mission is to travel to alien planets and convert those they find to the perfectness that is the One State, is targeted by I-330. She does this slowly, igniting human passions that are unknown by the builder.The book was written in 1920 - but feels modern. Women and men do different work, D-503 is disgusted with his neighbor who has "negroid" lips. But, for the most part, the society is equal - in that full transparency (both figuratively and literally). I'd have like to know more about the top of this world-is there an actual builder at the top, but we know what the Builder knows, and he, and his fellow citizens, are kept in the dark about how decisions are made.
  • (4/5)
    Overall an interesting book. Unfortunately it didn't hold my attention very well and I'm sure that's just due to the plot. It was very well written, but maybe the way this dystopian society was so confirmed and VERY based on mathematical algorithms just didn't work for me. I like my dystopia's a little gritty and this was sterile to me.
  • (5/5)
    We, written by Yevgeny Zamyatin and translated by Bela Shayevich, is a classic of dystopian literature yet also one that is still sometimes overlooked. I first encountered it in a Dystopian Literature course in the early 90s and it was the only work in the class that I had not at least heard of if not read. And, sadly, I was not in the minority.I found the translation here to be very good. I don't know Russian so I can't speak to that aspect, but I think Shayevich captured the flow and tone of the work as well as any translation I've read, and better than at least one of them. If you haven't read this novel, this is a good edition to grab. If you have read it and want to revisit it, this edition should please you.The novel itself aside, I found the additional pieces by Margaret Atwood, George Orwell, and Ursula K Le Guin make the work well worth adding to your library even if you have another edition. In particular, Le Guin's essay is excellent as a standalone essay, touching on several important topics as they relate to this novel.While the novel spoke to a very specific place and time, it still reverberates for today's reader. Likewise Le Guin's essay, written in the early 70s, could easily have been written for today's world. The essay is in one of her books if you want to read more of her nonfiction work.Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
  • (2/5)
    This book was written between 1920 and 1921 but not published until 1924 – in English. The USSR authorities may have seen it as a commentary on themselves. I wonder why. To be fair, it’s hardly subtle. But this is the 1920s, and science fiction didn’t do subtle in those days. The idea of a unifying state state can hardly be said to be Zamyatin’s invention – insects beat him to it, for one thing – but certainly We influenced a number of later works, and even arguably created an entire subgenre. The problem with said subgenre, however, is that it magnifies the fears and sensibilities of the writer, without actually making any kind of cohesive argument either for or against the society described in the book. David Karp’s One is a good example: most Americans will read it as a dystopia, most Europeans with read it as a utopia. We‘s United State is a state regimented to the nth degree, to such an extent the plot is pretty much narrator D-503 discovering he has a “soul” and the changes in perspective and sensibility that wreaks on him. It’s triggered by his relationship with a woman who clearly is not a typical state drone, and even on occasion dresses up in “old-fashioned” clothing like dresses. Unfortunately, the book is all a bit over-wrought, with excessive use of ellipses, and references to “ancient times” that are clearly the time of writing, as if there were no history between the novel’s present and the 1920s. I can see how it’s a seminal and influential work, but it’s not an enjoyable read and I’d sooner stick to works without such fevered prose. Most certainly an historical document, and important in that respect, but don’t read it for pleasure.
  • (5/5)
    Great story. I love the keywords for each record, and I smiled at all of the the running mathematical analogies (especially D's fear of and trepidation at the "irrational root").

    I was surprised at how much the story made me think of other stories, despite knowing before reading it that it has influenced a number of better known tales. The world of "We" is incredibly well constructed, and there are a number of jarring juxtapositions: the writing of a semi-surreptitious journal among the panopticon beehive that leaves almost no privacy; the sexual belonging of one's body to everyone except, apparently, one's self; the assignment of titles like Benefactor and Builder in a society that supposedly shuns class division and individual distinction; even the pacing of the story, from D's initial rational pursuit of his thoughts to the rapid and sometimes scattered, even fragmentary, narrative near the end.

    The story is a bit confusing at times. I had to re-read the incidents aboard the Integral, and I'm still not entirely clear what happened, though I think I got enough to understand how the ending plays out.
  • (4/5)
    I was pleasantly surprised; all I really knew was that this was a dystopian novel that criticized the USSR (a mode that has grown more than a bit tiresome), and inspired 1984. Now, Orwell is a good writer, but his novels don't really bring out his best qualities; Zamyatin, however, is an excellent writer, and/or Clarence Brown is a wonderful translator. The ideas here are tedious at best (we should all embrace disorder and chaos!!!!), but as a work of literature, it's really solid: a nice plot, as well as very smart use of ellipsis, understatement, and irony. There's none of the technophilia or over description that (now) characterizes SF writing. Brown's introduction points out some of the cringeworthy scenes that really do feel like early SF at its worst; he doesn't point out this book's superiority over later work. That's a shame.

    Mostly, though, I couldn't help but wonder if it was possible to write a dystopia that did involved neither state oppression nor environmental/military devastation. 'Idiocracy' might have come close, but can one do it seriously? Because I'm much less worried about the state and the bomb than I am about individual idiots making idiotic individual choices that are 'free' but also destructive.
  • (3/5)
    Zamyatin may have cleared way for other Dystopian novels, such as Brave New World and 1984... but criticizing Communism was not his only target; he was an equal opportunity satirist, taking aim at the "backwardness" of the provincial and the religious.

    The concept of "We" is based on the idea that "..if man's freedom is nil, he commits no crimes."
    Zamyatin takes this to an imaginative, and visually expressive conclusion.
  • (3/5)
    Lots of interesting ideas. I like the idea of perfecting certain types of motions. It can be said to be both utopian and dystopian at the same time. Your utopia might be my dystopia. There is no final revolution, there is no perfect happiness. It's not a death sentence. It's a temporary setback. Fits in well with modern literature. Can't quite avoid the black and white notions that science fiction brings.
  • (3/5)
    Challenging. The books cited as drawing from this work are significantly more accessible, which is probably why I am just getting around to reading We now.
  • (5/5)
    The dystopic novel to bring them all together in darkness and bind them.This is an extraordinary work. predating Brave New World and 1984, by decades & describing accurately describing near-earth spaceflight from 1920s Russia!If you only want to read one of these works, I would start with this one. So happy The Folio Society shared it with us!
  • (4/5)
    I think the main significance of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin is the fact that it was published before either Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four and obviously influenced the authors of both those books. In this imagined world of the 26th century it is held that happiness and freedom are incompatible. This is a future where life is dictated by math, logic and rules. Imagination, emotion and dreams are frowned upon.Under constant surveillance, the people’s lives are tightly controlled. There is no individuality allowed. They exercise by marching to the state’s anthem, they live in glass houses where they can be observed at all times. There is no marriage and children are created in a lab and raised by the state. Sex is rationed and one can only draw the curtains in their home while engaging in this activity. While I found this all very interesting, I did not connect with the main character or become particularly engaged by the story.Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote this dystopian novel during a time of change in Russia, he had just come through a revolution and a new system was taking control. He, personally had run afoul of both the white Russians and later, the Communists. We takes a hard look at totalitarian government and the flaws of forcing people into a rigid way of living.
  • (2/5)
    A millennia ago One State conquered the world, now they have designs on the rest of the Universe. They are building a spaceship called Integral and the chief engineer, D-503, is writing a journal that he is intending on taking with him on its maiden journey. Even in his privileged position he has to live in a glass apartment so he is constantly visible to the Bureau of Guardians, better known as One State’s secret police. He only has a moment of privacy when his state appointed lover, O-90, is permitted to visit him on certain nights. O-90 has other lovers, including the best friend of D-503, R-13 who performs as a One State sanctioned poet at public executions.

    Then one day, the safe predictable world that D-503 has known, changes in ways that he could never have conceived, and nothing can ever be the same again.

    I couldn’t quite get on with this for a few reasons. The plot didn’t really move that fast, even though it is a short tome, and the characters feel as flat and two dimensional as the glass walls that they are continually viewed through. I can see where Orwell and Huxley got their inspiration from though as this is brutally chilling at times with the all-pervasive state intrusion and levels of control that are frankly terrifying. Not bad, but for me didn’t have that extra something that 1984 has. 2.5 stars
  • (3/5)
    A Book With A One-Word TitleThose who have read 1984 will find Yevgeny Zamyatin's dystopian novel We familiar, although it is actually precedes both. Like 1984, it takes place in a totalitarian regime, the One State, that suppresses individuality, brutally if necessary, in favor of an ordered life controlled by scientific dictates. People no longer have names; they have alpha-numeric representations and are known as numbers. Life in the One State has been reduced to a schedule all numbers follow, the Table of Hours, which determines the proper time for all activity: eating, sleeping, sex - even the two hours of free time required due to an inability to solve the problem of happiness. The One State is headed by a Big Brother-like Benefactor, an all-powerful man who personally executes non-conformists.D-503, the narrator, is the lead builder of the Integral, a rocket ship destined for other inhabited planets whose populations lag behind the One State in their evolution toward reasoned life. He sets out to document what he sees and thinks leading up to the launch as an ode to the One State, but ends up documenting the challenges all totalitarian states face in subordinating individual will to the collective good. At its core, his journal is an unwitting jeremiad against uniformity, against suppression of man's natural desires and needs.As with other science fiction I've read (see my review of Ender's Game, for example), We is a book more concerned with philosophical ideas than character development and language. While there are brilliant expositions on human nature, such as the reduction of happiness to the formula bliss divided by envy, and unfreedom being man's natural desire, these are overshadowed by the writing style. D-503 continually breaks off mid-thought, leaving the reader to interpret, or more often anticipate, the meaning of his ellipses. His descriptions of action are often confusing and it's unclear whether he is describing actual or imaginary events. There are also too many coincidental occurrences where he encounters, in a city of millions, the exact character needed to advance the plot, whether that is O-90, the woman who loves him, I-330, his femme fatale, or several others who represent competing sides in the One State's battle for control.We is not necessarily a complex story, although it contains multiple Biblical references that can be outside mainstream knowledge. There is also a shadow organization, MEPHI, which I associated with Mephistopheles, the Devil's advocate in Faust (although this may just be my mistaken interpretation). I think you should read any introductory material first (something I usually forgo to avoid spoilers or being prejudiced by a summary of the story). My copy had an excellent introduction that focused on Zamyatin's experiences in post-Revolution Russia which provided an illumination on the factors influencing the novel.
  • (4/5)
    I was reading this book in the same course as I was reading "Brave New World." "Brave New World" did not hold my attention enough to read it fully. "We" did."We" is the narrator's letter of praise for his enlightened society, to be sent as cargo with a newly invented space craft to the other civilizations of the universe where the society intends to spread. Part of my preference for "We" over "Brave New World" was the dated feel of "Brave New World," and how We felt that much more estranged from society. As a dystopian novel "We" struck me as being both alien and sinister. The new ideal society feels like such an affront to our current ideas of freedom, and to hear it spoken of as such a grand and wonderful system by the narrator, coupled with knowledge that the narrator's intention is to bring this society to us. That there is no real "out" in this society as there was in "Brave New World" makes it hit that much harder.
  • (3/5)
    This probably qualifies as a Book I Should Have Read Already. I'm not sure if I'd heard of it before seeing John Allen Paulos recommend it as having the best explanation of entropy he'd read.I'd read that Orwell claimed he hadn't read this and I suspect that is probably true , given the history of the book. I have no idea as to the quality of the original language writing, but the translated version is very well written, or composed, ...or translated. Zemyatin was rather brilliant. The transition of D-503 through the book, to the conclusion I won't spoil (because I generally do not spoil fiction with any synopsis for other readers). I didn't make many notes, but I did ask in a note if the use of "idiotic" so much has significance. I don't know if it was.As to that definition... Paulos might be a very good mathematics writer, and I am a mechanical engineer who is not, but who has taken a few thermodynamics classes as an undergrad and graduate student, and ... well ..., I think Zemyatin, through his character I-330, was wrong. I'll leave it to the reader of this "review" to find out why and form your own opinion.
  • (4/5)
    “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and “We”: both have constant surveillance of the individual, though through different means. Both have the protagonist discovering a class in society that is free, but powerless. Both have state control over passion, albeit in rather different ways. But “1984” (the new title) is rather turgid though. “We” by contrast is actually a lot of fun, I rather prefer it of the two; it's not afraid in places to be a bit silly and it's vision of the future is somehow inspired, with their transparent dwellings and privacy granted only for your allotted hour of sex with your pre-selected partner. If one sees a figure jerking about, and one sees strings attached to its hands and feet and leading upward out of sight, one would "infer" a "manipulator" entirely internal to the figure's movements- a puppeteer. Likewise, if one saw an opinion-herd trotting this way and that, inferring that the beasts were being directed passively (even if the 'puppeteer' in this case were simply the other beasts) wouldn't be an extra "assumption", would it?Dystopias like "Nineteen Eighty-Four", “We” and “Brazil” make me wonder: sure, my opinions of a book or movie or person or whatever, and my political and spiritual commitments, my romantic infatuations, and so on, feel like they're "according to my own lights, which provide an adequate explanation for my reactions". And what else does one have to go by? Well, one thing one has to go by is the capacity for critique, the ability, perhaps the fate, to see one's own 'freedom' as a paradox.It feels as though some are merely rattling their sabres by criticising the minor flaws of a masterpiece, like complaining about the way the napkins are folded in an exquisite restaurant. Surely the stately style and sketchy characterisation perfectly suit the novel's vision of a grey, authoritarian world? Or am I simply crediting Zamyatin with more subtlety than he deserves? In any case, I think the content of “We” is sufficiently high enough to excuse any clumsiness of style. Granted, it's refreshing to re-evaluate even the greatest work of art, but why butcher a sacred cow just to have some gristle to chew over? Anyway, I must be off; the clocks are about to strike thirteen.
  • (1/5)
    Well, Ursula K. Le Guin apparently liked it... guess there's no accounting for taste. Poorly written, so metaphorical as to be nearly illegible.
  • (4/5)
    For fans of dystopian and/or science fiction, I consider this a must-read. Zamyatin's multi-sensory metaphors and stilted prose transport the reader immediately to his totalitarian, mechanized future. The One State is a rational world of clear, solid planes of glass, where the subjugation of nature within its walls allows ciphers (humans) to travel the predictable axes of obligation. There is so much depth and brilliant commentary within Zamyatin's words, the story is intriguing, and his writing through the voice of an increasingly unreliable mathematician narrator is wholly unique.
  • (4/5)
    Dystopian novel, narrated by a human identified only by a number (D-503) who lives in a totalitarian state with very strict rules regarding what and when you can do, in which citizens are completely indoctrinated and do not want anything else. D-503 falls in love with another "number", which is proven to be a revolutionary that tries to fight the state and organize a revolution. In the end the revolution fails, and the states invents an operation to remove completely feeling from people thus making them closer to machines. The main character is caught and any emotion is removed from him. Hope is still there though as the state is represented only by a town surrounded by wilderness and other humans which live outside. Has a dystopian atmosphere given by many details like houses make completely out of glass, idea that liberty is unhappiness, omnipresence of mathematics and others. Overall a good and interesting book, with a bit outdated style and setting (technological surveillance is not present at all for example as book was written beginning of 20th century.
  • (5/5)
    I never knew this book existed until recently. It goes to show, one thing, or book, leads to another - always :)
  • (5/5)
    We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin, is a classic on a par with 1984 and Brave New World, yet few have ever heard of it. The style is a unique mixture of mathematics and poetry, with the main character, D-503, so entwined in the totalitarian mindset that he even describes his lover geometrically. I am a retired teacher and mathematician and I blog about the real math I find in the sci-fi I read. Up to now, that has involved a few lines here and there and not in every story. This novel makes up for that scarcity. Philosophy is embedded here as well, leading to Zamyatin’s saying, “There are two forces in the world, entropy and energy. One tends toward blissful peace, to happy equilibrium, and the other toward destruction of equilibrium, toward tortuously constant movement.” Zamyatin seems to favor energy, a consciously anti-Zen decision. D-503 associates dangerous instability, both emotional and political, with the square root of minus one. This may be the most significant, but not the only, symbolic treasure hidden in this story. The square root of minus one, of course, is “I”.
  • (5/5)
    Fucking awesome.
  • (4/5)
    So many of the classic dystopian sf novels were so clearly influenced by a fear of a totalitarian, communist regime. Well, Zamyatin actually lived in one, and it shows. I don't really know how I didn't know about this book until so recently. I was in utter awe of it at the beginning, until I started to get impatient with the character I-330, and the protagonist's relationship with her. The shadowy/secretive/manipulative femme fatale who seems to maybe be pulling far more strings than you first realize, who reels in the starry-eyed narrator who is just helpless, helpless in her wake... It was just so done, so overly familiar as to feel cheap. To be fair, this was written in 1921, so it almost certainly predates all those other novels who were directly or indirectly ripping We off. It's not Zamyatin's fault that I came to this book so late in the game.

    Despite this familiar dynamic, there is much that is thrillingly unique about this book. In particular, I enjoyed D-503 (the protagonist)'s relationship to mathematics. Also, We focuses much less on the political structures and powers that be than on the emotional turmoil of coming to throw off one's own beliefs and understand the world anew.

    Glad I finally found and read this book!
  • (4/5)
    A seminal science fiction work of a totalitarian society. Very enjoyable and easy to see the massive impact it has had on subsequent works.
  • (3/5)
    We is a dystopian novel set in the far future. The hero, D-503, is a true believer in the all-encompassing state:"How pleasant it was to feel someone's vigilant eye lovingly protecting you from the slightest misstep. Sentimental as it may sound, that same analogy came into my head again: the 'guardian angel' as imagined by the Ancients. How much has materialized in our lives that they only ever imagined."When D-503 meets and comes under the influence of I-330, an underground dissident, his world begins to fall apart, as he questions life as he has always known it.This book was interesting to me as an intellectual challenge. I read it because it is on the 1001 list. It is historically important (it was the first book banned by the Soviet Union), and extremely influential on later novels, such as 1984. However, I never became immersed in the story, or felt as one with the characters, as I did in 1984, with Winston and Julia.
  • (4/5)
    Not usually a genre I read (sci-fi/dystopian). But, I was compelled to read with a couple others (on Litsy), We , because it was supposed to be a precursor and/or inspiration for 1984, which I had recently finished reading. We was banned in CCCP until 1988 because of the novel's assumed criticism of the government. There's a lot of colorful and descriptive prose which at times felt very satirical. We seems to have influenced other works as well, not just 1984. I was somewhat reminded at times of Anthem by Ayn Rand while reading. My translation was the one by Clarence Brown; there has been several translated versions over the years and one may want to research (maybe by "looking inside the book" on amazon) before deciding on one to read.
  • (4/5)
    I bought the audiobook earlier this year and Grover Gardner gave his typically excellent narration. However, I find science fiction sometimes difficult to process in audiobook form and after starting this I decided I did need to have a copy of the text, so I borrowed the Kindle book from the library. The Kindle edition turned out to be a different translation but it was close enough for my purposes. Of the two translations, I had a slight preference for Brown's but they were both good. I did also appreciate the foreword in the audiobook by Brown about the history of this book & how he came to doing this translation, more so after I had finished the book. This is the sort of thing I typically skip when reading but since it wasn't labelled as an introduction or foreword, I got 'tricked' into listening to itand am glad I did (though I do think it should have been labelled rather than being called 'chapter one'!).As for the book itself, I could see why the U.S.S.R. refused to publish it back in 1921 even though in the end the government, OneState, wins out over the 'counterrevolutionaries' in a somewhat heartbreaking ending. It is tempting to compare the fictional OneState to the old Soviet Union but in fact I feel that its attempt at creating perfect happiness (at the expense of freedom and imagination) could have arisen anywhere. And I found the question of which is preferable - happiness or imagination - extremely difficult to answer personally even when I felt the answer for society as a whole was clearly imagination. Of course, what I would like is to have both!! But that wasn't one of the options...