Sunday, October 17, 2010

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

A dystopian novel inspired on the Russian revolutions in 1905 and 1917 with similar themes in other such books like 1984, Brave New World, and Anthem. I felt like this books rings a bit more true than those books since the author lived in a repressive society, but who knows.

It follows the story of a mathematician named D-503 and his girlfriend, O-90, and a woman he becomes infatuated with, I-330. I-330 is completely counter-cultural to The One State and D-503 discovers her plan to overthrow the totalitarian society. D-503 begins to have dreams and explore his imagination - both of which The One State portrays as mental illnesses, which can be fixed by "The Great Operation" - a lobotomy.

I found the book pretty difficult to read and follow in certain parts and had to re-read chapters a few times to make sure I was keeping up with the story. As far as the writing goes, it's pretty clever. D-503, as a mathematician, describes everything he experiences - sex, food, objects - in mathematical terms, showing how his job and duty to The One State is the most important facet of his life. As he interacts more with I-330, he begins to describe experiences less quantitatively and more subjectively and romantically, which I thought was a really well-written part of the book in order to show D-503's change in thinking and the influence of I-330 on D-503's psychology. I really enjoy these dystopian novels, but I think I enjoyed the ending of this one the most.

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