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Yevgeny Zamyatin

(1884-1937)
Yevgeny Zamyatin had impeccable credentials as one of the most influential early critics of totalitarian governments, industrialization, and the crushing of individual will by the state. He was involved with the Bolsheviks, exiled to Siberia after the First Russian Revolution in 1905, escaped to become a naval engineer, worked in the UK shipyards supervising construction of ice breakers, witnessed the communist October Revolution, wrote numerous stories satirizing and ridiculing the Soviet regime, and smuggling out a copy of his masterpiece We to the United States to be first published there in 1924, and then smuggled Russian copies out to be published in Prague, thereby enraging the Soviet government. For his troubles, he was censored in his native country and finally requested permission directly to Stalin to be allowed to leave. He eventually settled in Paris and died in poverty in 1937.

We: An early dystopian masterpiece from Russia

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We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We is widely recognized as a direct influence on George Orwell when composing his dystopian masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four, and there are certainly strong signs of influence in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World as well. Zamyatin edited Russian translations of works of Jack London and H.G. Wells, and We can be viewed as a reaction against the optimistic scientific socialist utopias promoted by Wells. (Note: Aldous Huxley claimed no influence from We, stating that he was also opposed to the utopian ideals of H.G. Wells.)

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