Zamyatin's footprint in History

When Joseph Stalin took the control of the Soviet Russia and established a Totalitarian rule, there was a group of literary rebels that fought against the absolutism and conformity of the system. They called themselves The Serapion Brethren and one of them was Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin.

"With whom are we, the Serapion Brethren? We are with the hermit Serapion. We reject Utilitarianism. We do not write for the sake of propaganda. Art is as real as life itself, and, it has no goal or meaning, it exists because it must exist... Our only demand is that the writer's voice must never be false."

PhotobucketDostoevsky and Gogol are two prominent figures that influenced Zamyatin in his childhood years and after reading this fast-paced (in the second half of the book) dystopic novel WE, it's evident that he loves to play with moral issues. His method is highly satirical and sometimes dark, as the similarities are very obvious with this novel published in 1921 and other inheritors of the style like Orwell's 1984 and Le Guin's The Dispossessed. Yes, if you're still not familiar with this book, WE preceded Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and influenced Orwell's 1984. The major difference is that the "science" aspect is more believable here compared to Orwell's, and even to Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

The protagonist is the main architect of a ship that aims to reach other planets, to conquer the "outer space." Everything in the system is ruled by the Law of Reason, therefore-- religion, mysticism, and even traditional beliefs were eradicated and isolated "outside" the seemingly impenetrable glass wall. Each person has no name, only designation like in the army. The protagonist is D-503 and his partner is O-90. This is to ensure unity for the cause of the great Benefactor and the One State, and forget about individuality and free thinking. 

Problem arises when  D-530 meets the beautiful I-330. What will happen if you begin to question the validity of Reason? What will happen if you suddenly contracted a disease, the kind of disease of the "inner space" that the ancients called soul?

In the end, the protagonist lost. But D-503 lost the battle and not the War. There is hope for the future in this novel, not like the case in Huxley's Brave New World and Orwell's 1984.

This novel accurately predicted the horrors of Stalinism and this is the reason why the book was banned and the author-banished and liquidated from the Soviet Russia. His only reason is to fight for what he believe is right. That is Yevgeny Zamyatin's final footprint in history for today's generation.

some memorable passages:

The knife is the strongest, the most immortal, the most brilliant of man's creations. The knife has been a guillotine; the knife is the universal means of solving all knots; along the knife's edge is the road of paradoxes--the only road worthy of a fearless mind.

"Then how can there be a final revolution? There is no final one; revolutions are infinite. The final one is for children: children are frightened by infinity, and its important that children sleep peacefully at night..."

"Children are the only bold philosophers. And bold philosophers are invariably children. Exactly, just like children, we must always ask, 'And what next?'"

Additional footnote, I think Zamyatin predicted the usage of a pocket, scientific calculator here. Some science fiction readers will answer that it was Asimov from his Foundation book. But WE preceded the Foundation Trilogy for about 30 years! 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 souls
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia 

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