17 March, 2011

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1921)

Orwell’s 1984 & Huxley’s Brave New World owe this work a (not always acknowledged) debt. Written in 1920 and banned by the Soviets before publication, We is set in the 32nd century where society, known as One State, allows its citizens no freedom in order to safeguard them from crime and secure their ‘happiness’. The story follows D-503 (people have numbers, not names), a respected mathematician, who comes to question what One State stands for. Eerily prescient of the Stalinist and Nazi horrors that were just around the corner, Zamyatin’s dystopian sci-fi trailblazer retains a freshness you might not expect from a novel now 90 years old.

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