Tuesday, August 14, 2007

BOOK: We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

This book is the first to be read for the Books in Translation yahoo group, sponsored by the amazing 3M, and I'm not completely sure what to say about it yet. I certainly would never have picked it on my own, because I had never heard of it before. I did see someone review it on the Dystopian Challenge blog, but I skimmed over it I confess. I am anxious to discuss it with the group.

In a nutshell, this novel was written around 1920 by a Russian, Yevgeny Zamyatin but it wasn't published in Russia. I need to brush up on my Russian history - revolutions and the communists timeline, to make sense of when this was written and what was going on at the time. Zamyatin has written a prophetic account of the communist Soviet Union, where the group, We is more important than the individual, I. People are numbers, and interestingly, the women are are vowels, ie, I-330 and O-90, while the men are consonants. There is a great wall surrounding the civilization, (the Berlin Wall?) and logic and reason rule. The one Great Benefactor rules all. Our hero, D-503, is a wonderful citizen, loves his mathematics and logic. He is the Builder of the Integral, and is a believer in his world.
As with most dystopian novels, D-503 begins to question the society he is in and the rules. He only partly questions though, and his biggest issue is his crush on I-330, who appears to be a rebel, working for the revolution.

I really liked all the math references, and the general novel. Many times I felt like I missed key plot points within the prose. It wouldn't be until the next entry (chapter) that I would realize something. Even though, I still enjoyed it. I think this is a book best analysed with others, because there is a lot to talk about. I'll understand this better in September when the discussion begins.