Yevgeny Zamyatin

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Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin (February 1, 1884March 10, 1937) was a Russian author, known mostly for his dystopian novel, We, which influenced and inspired later dystopian works such as Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.


We (1921)[edit]

  • I turned. She was in a light, saffron-yellow dress of the ancient model. This was a thousand times more cruel than if she had worn nothing. [D-503]
  • It has never occurred to me before, but this is truly how it is: all of us on earth walk constantly over a seething, scarlet sea of flame, hidden below, in the belly of the earth. We never think of it. But what if the thin crust under our feet should turn into glass and we should suddenly see..
    I became glass. I saw- within myself. [D-503]
  • At night numbers must sleep; it is their duty, just as it is their duty to work in the daytime. Not sleeping at night is a criminal offense. [D-503]
  • Knowledge, absolutely sure of its infallibility, is faith. [D-503]
  • Those two, in paradise, were given a choice: happiness without freedom, or freedom without happiness. There was no third alternative. [D-503]
  • The ancient God created the old man, capable of erring- thus he erred himself. [D-503]
  • She moved nearer, leaned her shoulder against me- and we were one, and something flowed from her into me, and I knew: this is how it must be. I knew it with every nerve, and every hair, and every heartbeat, so sweet it verged on pain. And what joy to submit to this "must." A piece of iron must feel such joy as it submits to the precise, inevitable law that draws it to a magnet. Or a stone, thrown up, hesitating for a moment, then plunging headlong back to earth. Or a man, after the final agony, taking a last deep breath- and dying. [D-503]
  • "Fog.. So very.."
    "Do you like fog"
    She used the ancient, long-forgotten "thou"- the "thou" of the master to the slave. It entered into me slowly, sharply. Yes, I was a slave, and this, too, was necessary, was good.
    "Yes, good.." I said aloud to myself. And then to her," I hate fog. I am afraid of it."
    "That means you love it. You are afraid of it because it is stronger than you; you hate it because you are afraid of it: you love it because you cannot subdue it to your will. Only the unsubduable can be loved." [D-503 and I-330]

On Literature, Revolution, Entropy and Other Matters (1923)[edit]

  • Heretics are the only (bitter) remedy against the entropy of human thought.


  • There were a lot of utopias in the nineteenth century, wonderful societies that we might possibly construct. Those went pretty much out of fashion after World War I. And almost immediately one of the utopias that people were trying to construct, namely the Soviet Union, threw out a writer called Zamyatin who wrote a seminal book called We, which contains the seeds of Orwell and Huxley. Writers started doing dystopias after we saw the effects of trying to build utopias that required, unfortunately, the elimination of a lot of people before you could get to the perfect point, which never arrived.
    • Margaret Atwood, "A Progressive Interview With Margaret Atwood", Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive, December 2010. [1]

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