WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin
We was completed by Yevgeny Zamyatin in 1921.It was written in response to the author’s personal experiences with the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917, his life in the Newcastle suburb of Jesmond and work in the Tyne shipyards at nearby Wallsend during the First World War. It was at Tyneside that he observed the rationalisation of labour on a large scale.
“I have been teaching this book to AP English students for 20 years. It always provokes a lot of discussion about the science and math contained in it, which I regard as healthy interdisciplinary carry-over. Perhaps part of the problem some readers have with the pseudo-math is that they forget that the protagonist-narrator, a mathematician-engineer, becomes increasingly mentally unstable as the novel progresses. The very foundations of his view of the world as mathematically and rationally definable begin to fail him when he becomes emotionally obsessed with a temptress who is merely using him to foment political rebellion. The mathematical analogies throughout help define the deterioration of his rationality. I would say that the debt to WE voiced by both Huxley and Orwell is indication enough of the literary magnitude of this work as a seminal dystopia.” — Craig Myers, Simi Valley HS