”Мы” (We)is a dystopian futuristic novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin completed in 1921. D-503, a spacecraft engineer, lives in the One State, an urban nation constructed almost entirely of glass, which assists mass surveillance by the secret police, or Bureau of Guardians. D-503’s lover, O-90, has been assigned by One State to visit him on certain nights. She is considered too short to bear children and is deeply grieved by her state in life. O-90’s other lover and D-503’s best friend is R-13, a State poet who reads his verse at public executions. While on an assigned walk with O-90, D-503 meets a woman named I-330. I-330 smokes cigarettes, drinks alcohol, and shamelessly flirts with D-503 instead of applying for an impersonal sex visit; all of these are highly illegal according to the laws of One State. Both repelled and fascinated, D-503 struggles to overcome his attraction to I-330. I-330 invites him to visit the Ancient House, notable for being the only opaque building in One State, except for windows. Objects of aesthetic and historical importance dug up from around the city are stored there. There, I-330 offers him the services of a corrupt doctor to explain his absence from work. Leaving in horror D-503 vows to denounce her to the Bureau of Guardians, but finds that he cannot. He begins to have dreams, which disturbs him, as dreams are thought to be a symptom of mental illness. Slowly, I-330 reveals to D-503 that she is involved with the Mephi, an organization plotting to bring down the One State. She takes him through secret tunnels inside the Ancient House to the world outside the Green Wall, which surrounds the city-state. There, D-503 meets the inhabitants of the outside world: humans whose bodies are covered with animal fur. The aims of the Mephi are to destroy the Green Wall and reunite the citizens of One State with the outside world…

Along with Jack London’s ”The Iron Heel”, ”Мы” is generally considered to be the grandfather of the satirical futuristic dystopia genre. It takes the modern industrial society to an extreme conclusion, depicting a state that believes that free will is the cause of unhappiness, and that citizens’ lives should be controlled with mathematical precision based on the system of industrial efficiency created by Frederick Winslow Taylor. George Orwell claimed that Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) must be partly derived from ”Мы”. However, in a letter to Christopher Collins in 1962, Huxley says that he wrote Brave New World as a reaction to H. G. Wells’s utopias long before he had heard of ”Мы”. According to one translator of ”Мы”, Natasha Randall, Orwell believed that Huxley was lying. Orwell began Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) some eight months after he read We in a French translation and wrote a review of it. Orwell is reported as “saying that he was taking it as the model for his next novel”. Brown writes that for Orwell and certain others, ”Мы” “appears to have been the crucial literary experience”.Shane states that “Zamyatin’s influence on Orwell is beyond dispute”. Robert Russell, in an overview of the criticism of ”Мы”, concludes that “1984 shares so many features with ”Мы” that there can be no doubt about its general debt to it”, however there is a minority of critics who view the similarities between ”Мы” and 1984 as “entirely superficial”. Further, Russell finds that “Orwell’s novel is both bleaker and more topical than Zamyatin’s, lacking entirely that ironic humour that pervades the Russian work”. ”Мы” was the first work banned by Goskomizdat, the new Soviet censorship bureau, in 1921, though the initial draft dates to 1919. Zamyatin’s literary position deteriorated throughout the 1920s, and he was eventually allowed to emigrate to Paris in 1931, probably after the intercession of Maxim Gorky. The novel was first published in English in 1924 by E. P. Dutton in New York in a translation by Gregory Zilboorg, but its first publication in the Soviet Union had to wait until 1988, when glasnost resulted in it appearing alongside George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. A year later, ”Мы” and Brave New World were published together in a combined edition. (via Wikipedia)

”Мы” was written before both ”Brave New World” and ”1984” as said, but both carries a lot of resemblances to ”Мы” and you can´t pretend that is has had a significant influcence on the other books. However, being a great fan of russian writers like Bulgakov, I was intrigued by ”Мы” as I hadn´t heard about this book before strangely enough. The conceptual idea is there, but the execution leave you something to wish for. I red a Swedish translation and it´s hard to know how much you lose from the original language, but I found ”Мы” being confusingly written and not as straightforward as ”Brave New World” and ”1984” which both are great novels. I reckon I found myself trying to get my head around the main characters and their whereabouts, but felt the story floated around without a linear structure and I dropped the thread at times. ”Мы” didn´t have the impact on me as I wanted, but I´m glad I have red it.

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Gorgeous.

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Female veiny hands can be truly attractive.

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Beaut.

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