Thread: Literary We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
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Old 12-01-2012, 03:31 PM   #29
Bookworm_Girl
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This is a great discussion by everyone! Your insightful comments have helped me to understand the book better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by caleb72 View Post
OK - I've finished! Let me start by saying that I liked this book. The idea of reading a precursor to greats like 1984 and Brave New World had me excited and mostly, this did not disappoint.

I did find it hard to follow some of his thoughts. There's quite a lot of incomplete thoughts that I think I'm supposed to grasp but am perhaps a bit too dim to understand. However, it didn't prevent me from enjoying it.

I always think it strange when people refer to works like this as "dated". The players change but the goal of the game remains the same in any place and in any time.
I just finished this book today so I am still digesting it. caleb72 summed up my initial impressions. I am glad to have read it for an understanding of its influence on future dystopian literature, since I enjoy this genre. In turn, I was not surprised to learn that one of Zamyatin's jobs was to edit translations of the works of H.G. Wells who he appears to have been influenced by. Here is a review by George Orwell that I found interesting.
http://georgeorwellnovels.com/journa...y-zamyatin-we/

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamlet53 View Post
The other item that bothered me slightly was the author referring to the “irrational √-1.” As any one with some knowledge of mathematics knows √-1 is an imaginary (or paired with a real number complex) number, not an irrational number. Then again perhaps the author meant irrational here not in the meaning so taken in mathematics, but just an irrational idea or thought?
I liked the incorporation of mathematics and industrialized efficiencies of that time period into the plot and was also not surprised to learn that Zamyatin had been an engineer. I wondered about the description of √-1 as irrational rather than imaginary as well. On the other hand, imagination was a key theme as D-503 starts to dream and the Operation is described to remove the imagination and thus restore happiness. I also liked that I-330 was described as having an X appearance, X being an unknown variable, when D-503 first meets her.

The translator of the book that I read said that it was clear irrational was used intentionally. After finishing the book I went back and re-read the first few chapters. It really highlighted the transition from D-503's rational to irrational state of mind, or clear thinking to driven by emotional thoughts due to his illness (developing a soul). After the Operation, D-503's emotions are gone has he appears to have no reaction to I-330's torture in the Bell Jar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paola View Post
I have to agree with a lot of this - in the end, I am glad I read the book, as at the very least it helps put in context 1984 and Brave new world, but again I was disappointed with some bits of the plot that just did not feel write - again I don't want to spoil it for those who have not read it yet, but let us say that things happen to D which should have immediate consequence (at least in the logic of the United State) that are simply not there...
I too wondered why D-503 kept escaping punishment. Then after he meets with the Benefactor, my thought was also why do they want him reformed rather destroyed as someone else commented.

Quote:
Originally Posted by caleb72 View Post
And let's face it - if D- doesn't fit in, who really would?

Oh OK - now it's opening up for me a bit.

Perhaps the affair itself is a demonstration of how ill-suited we really are to such a regimented and totalitarian society. When someone so devout and fervent about the ideals of the society can ignore the obvious benefits of a safe and loving and productive relationship and instead pursue a dangerous and manipulative affair....?
I liked this comment regarding D-503, caleb72!

Quote:
Originally Posted by caleb72 View Post
I got the feeling that the United State wasn't actually that big by the way. Did anyone else get that impression?
In the beginning of the book it says that the majority of the population was destroyed during the Two Hundred Years' War.

I have some more thoughts that are floating around in my head so I'm going to think on this book a little while longer to see if they can become better organized to express in writing.
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