Zamyatin’s We

Image: ‘Silent crowd’

As with much (all?) fiction in the dystopian genre, We paints the picture of a future society that is perceived to be “perfect”.

TASK: As a class, design the perfect society. Consider the gamut of perspectives: political, social, economic, cultural etc. How are each of these represented in your society. Consider practical and physical issues as well as more philosophical. 

We know that many modern writers of dystopian fiction read We.  This clearly relates to our exploration of texts in context; in this case looking at the influence of this text within the genre. Survey the field and consider how familiar you are with dystopian literature.

TASK: Take the dystopian literature quiz on our shared notes

A little background…

As we get started working through the novel, its important to develop an understanding of the context Zamyatin was writing in. We will explore this in more depth later, but its good to have a foundation.


a) Historians: prepare some background notes on what was happening historically at the time of writing. How was Russia changing? Why was Zamyatin arrested for fight for the Bolshevik revolution, and then later for fighting against it. Find one or two good “required” readings for us to go through (try Mr. McCluskey or Gale, the library database). 

b) Literary critics: Define dystopian literature. What are its characteristics? Is it always set in the future? What are some of the key works? Find one or two good “required” readings for us to go through (try Gale, the library database). 

Post your notes to our shared notes document on Drive.

A Shared Approach

As we are working through the text we should endeavour to cover these perspectives:

1. Key phrase or sentence. Why? This activity encourages summation; find a phrase or sentences that really gets to the heart of what is being communicated in the Record.

2. Setting search. Why? Setting is always significant in dystopia and science fiction. It will also help us investigate some clear links to the context Zamyatin was writing in.

3.  Character counts. Why? It is through D-503 that we see the eventual devolution of society. Further the other characters can represent other aspects of society.

Post your notes to our shared notes document on Drive.

Image: ‘Silent crowd

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