The Individual vs. the State in the Shadow of the Russian
Yevgeny Zamyatin Resources
Prof. Kreutzer at St. Lawrence University
Crystal Palace, built in London in 1851, was seen as a marvel of
architectural achievement. The people in Nikolai Chernyshevsky's Utopian
society seen in Vera Pavlovna's dream in What is to be Done? (1863) live
in similar structures. For Chernyshevsky the Crystal Palace seemed to
represent the power of science and human reason. Dostoevsky's
from the Underground" (1864. There are many intertextual
references to Dostoevsky's great work in We) mentions Crystal
Palaces, but his aim seems to be to ridicule Chernyshevsky's faith in
rationality. Zamyatin seems to share Dostoevsky's skepticism in regard to
the power of people to build a perfect society based on human reason. By
Zamyatin's time, hope that technological advances could solve humanity's
problems had become mitigated by the knowledge that technology, in the form of
deadlier weapons, had added to human misery in WWI. It should also be
noted that Zamyatin was an admirer of the works of H. G. Wells, whose Martians
use advanced technology to wreak havoc on London (see War of the Worlds,
Things to think about as you read Zamyatin's We:
Pay attention to the numbers and colors used in the novel.
How are biblical themes used in the novel?
Please think about the relationships among the characters in the novel.
How are the changes in D-503 reflected in his writing style?
What are other possible meanings of this work beyond its interpretation as
Biographies on Friends and Partners:
Ilf's and Petrov's pictures from their American journey with
excerpts from One Story America.