Science Fiction Studies

#1 = Vol 1, Part 1 = Spring 1973

Patrick Parrinder

Imagining the Future: Zamyatin and Wells

A literature that is alive does not live by yesterday's clock, nor by today's, but by tomorrow's.--Yevgeny Zamyatin1

In his recent critical biography of Zamyatin, Alex M. Shane writes that the question of Wells' influence on Zamyatin's We "has not yet received extensive, systematic study."2 This is just as well, for the connection between Zamyatin and Wells raises problems that cannot be solved by the systematic study of influences, or by the purely content-oriented approach that most critics of the anti-utopian novel have adopted. In comparing Zamyatin and Wells, we should at least seek to ask, how should (or how can) science fiction be written?

Zamyatin's reputation in the English-speaking world owes much to George Orwell, who both used We as one of the sources of Nineteen Eighty-Four and asserted that Huxley must have drawn upon it in Brave New World.3 It has become usual to place We in the line that includes those books and other anti-utopias such as Forster's "The Machine Stops" and Golding's Lord of the Flies. Apart from Zamyatin, this is a very English tradition--not merely dystopian, but deliberately and consciously anti-Wellsian--and Mark R. Hillegas has recently argued that their rejection of Wells' values has concealed the basic indebtedness of all these writers to Wells' visions and methods. In Zamyatin's case, Hillegas shows that We reproduces the broad topography of the Wellsian future romance: the dehumanized city-state with its huge apartment blocks, its dictatorship, its walls excluding the natural world, and its weird House of Antiquity, is built of elements from When the Sleeper Wakes, "A Story of the Days to Come", and The Time Machine.4 Yet this tells us little about the spirit in which We was written. The present essay will emphasize two facts which have been noted but hardly taken into account by previous critics. The first is that, so far from being a deliberate anti-Wellsian, Zamyatin was the author of Herbert Wells (1922), a sparkling but little known essay that puts forth its subject as, in some sense, the prototype of the revolutionary modern artist. The second is that Zamyatin was himself a notably original modernist writer, and not merely the precursor of Huxley and Orwell. To pass from The Time Machine to We is to enter a world where the topography may be similar, but the nature of experience is utterly changed, so that we are faced with two quite different kinds of imagination. In this crucial respect, the "modernist" status that Zamyatin conferred on Wells in theory was in practice reserved for himself alone.

A marine architect by profession, and an ex-Bolshevik who had been imprisoned after the 1905 revolution, Zamyatin was building ice-breakers in North-East England when the Tsarist regime was overthrown. He returned to Russia in September 1917, and became a leading figure among the left-wing writers of Petersburg until his outspoken and heretical views came in conflict with the rigid cultural controls of the 1920s. We, his major imaginative work, was written in 1920-21, banned in the Soviet Union, and published in English translation in 1924. In ideological terms, it is an expression of his qualms about the technocratic developments of Western civilization, with a sardonic relevance to the Bolshevik ideal, notably in the portrayal of the "entropic" stabilization of the once-revolutionary state, and in the restatement of Dostoyevsky's eternal opposition of freedom and happiness. At the same time as writing We, Zamyatin, like most of his fellow writers, found himself engaged in educational work and in the organization of new revolutionary publishing houses. One of the first foreign authors to be republished was H. G. Wells. (His works had been abundantly available under the Tsar.) Zamyatin supervised a series of Wells translations between 1918 and 1926, and Herbert Wells, a survey of the whole of his work up to the 1920s, was a by-product of this.5

Two factors dominated Zamyatin's enthusiasm for the English writer. There was Wells' standing as a creator of modern myths: Zamyatin saw the scientific romances, which were his chief interest, as a species of fairy tale reflecting the endless prospect of technological change and the rigorously logical demands of scientific culture. They were the fairy tales of an asphalt, mechanized metropolis in which the only forests were made up of factory chimneys, and the only scents were those of test tubes and motor exhausts. Thus they expressed a specifically Western experience: for the reader in backward Russia, the urban landscapes which had produced Wells, and not only those he described, belonged to the future. Zamyatin was enough of a determinist to feel that Wells's expression of the twentieth-century environment alone constituted an essential modernity. He denotes this side of Wells by the symbol of the aeroplane soaring above the given world into a new and unexplored element. Just as the terrestrial landscape was transformed by the possibility of aerial photography, war and revolution are now transforming human prospects. Zamyatin calls Wells the most contemporary of writers because he has foreseen this, and taught men to see with "airman's eyes".

He was forced to admit that Wells himself had "come back to earth", however, in the sense of abandoning science fiction for the realistic social novel. While suggesting that his social novels were old-fashioned and derivative beside the scientific romances, Zamyatin used the whole range of Wells's writings to support his second theme, that of Wells as a socialist artist. He quotes passages from Wells's introduction to a Russian edition of his works (1911) in -which he declares himself a non-Marxist, non-violent revolutionary--in other words, a heretical socialist like Zamyatin himself. The most surprising twist in the argument is the discussion of Wells's most -recent phase, his conversion to belief in a "finite God" which was announced in Mr. Britling in 1916. Wells's wayward and short-lived attempt to combine rationalism and religion later appeared as an absurdity even to himself, but for Zamyatin it was proof of his independence and of his imaginative daring. In the aftermath of the war, Wells's earlier visions had already come true. "The whole of life has been torn away from the anchor of reality and has become fantastic," Zamyatin wrote. Wells's response had been to pursue his method further, until it touched the ultimate meaning of life. The resulting fusion of socialism and religion was a boldly paradoxical feat recalling the joining of science and myth in the early romances:

The dry, compass-like circle of socialism, limited by the earth, and the hyperbole of religion, stretching into infinity--the two are so different, so incompatible. But Wells managed to breach the circle, bend it into a hyperbole, one end of which rests on the earth, in science and positivism, while the other loses itself in the sky.

Although it made a stir at the time, Wells's spurious religion hardly merits this engaging metaphor. The figure of the circle bent into a hyperbole is associated with the spiraling flight of the aeroplane. Both are found elsewhere in Zamyatin's writings, serving as cryptic images of his theory of art.

In the essay "On Synthetism" (1922), he divides all art into three schools represented by the symbols +, -, -- (affirmation, negation, synthesis).6 Art develops into a continual dialectical sequence as one school gives way to the next. The three schools of art in the present phase are naturalism (+), symbolism and futurism (-), and "neorealism" or "synthetism" (--), a post-Cubist and post-Einsteinian art which embraces the paradox of modern experience in being both "realistic" and "fantastic". Characterized by incongruous juxtaposition and the splintering of planes, Synthetism is identified in the work of Picasso, Annenkov, Bely, Blok, and of course Zamyatin himself. But this is only a temporary phase, for each dialectical triad is subject to an ongoing process of replacement and succession which observes an eternal oscillation between the extremes of revolution and entropy. Development is a succession of explosions and consolidations, and "the equation of art is the equation of an infinite spiral."

These ideas are the formula of Zamyatin's commitment to permanent revolution and to the heretical nature of the artist. They are related to his view of Wells in various ways. In the section of Herbert Wells entitled "Wells's Genealogy", we read that the traditional utopian romance from More to Morris bears a positive sign--the affirmation of a vision of earthly paradise. Wells invents a new form of "socio-fantastic novel" with a negative sign; its purpose is not the portrayal of a future paradise, but social criticism by extrapolation. There is some ambiguity about these categories, and Zamyatin does not elaborate on them, but it seems evident that there must also be an anti-utopian form marked (--). When we follow the struggle of D-503 to achieve social orthodoxy in We, and more fleetingly as we contemplate the brainwashed Winston at the end of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the impossibility of our imagining such a future at all--in any full sense--is what the author confronts us with. Is this perhaps the negation of the negation?

Such reasoning would limit Wells to an intermediate place in the dialectic of anti-utopia. Zamyatin usually sees him in a more general way as epitomizing the dynamic quality of the contemporary imagination. The aeroplane spiraling upward from the earth is not just Wells but a symbol of contemporary writing as a whole.7 Moreover, Wells's success in terms of actual prophecy confirmed his position as a vanguard artist, and indeed as a "neorealist." Destroying the stable picture of Victorian society with his strange forward-looking logic, he had foreseen the revolutionary age when reality would itself become fantastic. Zamyatin credited him with the invention of a type of fable reflecting the demands of modern experience--speed, logic, unpredictability. Yet for all this there was one area in which he lagged behind: "language, style, the word--all those things that we have come to appreciate in the most recent Russian writers." One of Zamyatin's metaphors for art is "a winding staircase in the Tower of Babel." He heralded the verbal and syntactical revolution generating language that was "supercharged, high-voltage," and he tried to create such a language in the writing of We.

We is written in the form of a diary. It is true that D-503, the diarist, makes some conscientious attempts to explain his society to alien readers, but the social picture which emerges (the sole concern of ideologically minded critics from Orwell onwards) is essentially revealed through the medium of the future consciousness, and even the future language, which are Zamyatin's most radical conceptions. The reflection that a new society entails new consciousness and language, and that these can only be adequately suggested by a "futuristic" fictional technique, seems obvious once stated. Yet it is Zamyatin's imagination of these conditions--his revelation of the future through its writings--that establishes We as a uniquely modernist work of science fiction.

Hillis Miller has written that "the transformation which makes a man a novelist is his decision to adopt the role of the narrator who tells the story."8 It is from this point of view that the contrast between the influential Wellsian model of the science-fiction fable, and the form that Zamyatin created, is more clearly seen.

Wells's concern is with facing the unknown; Zamyatin's, with being the unknown. Wells's narratives always have a fixed and familiar point of reference. Like Swift and Voltaire, he exploits the Enlightenment forms of the travelogue and the scientific report. In his early romances there is always a narrator who brings weird and disturbing news and yet wins our confidence at once by his observance of anecdotal conventions. His audience is either today's audience or that of the very near future, and his assumptions are those of contemporary scientific culture. In The Time Machine, the Time Traveller sets out armed with expectant curiosity, quick wits, and a cheerful acceptance of danger--the very type of the disinterested explorer. He is also equipped to formulate Social Darwinist hypotheses, and he arrives by trial and error at unanticipated but presumably correct conclusions. At the end, however, we are casually told that the Traveller "thought but cheerlessly of the Advancement of Mankind" (§17/§13) even before he set out. The information is held back so that nothing shall interfere with his confidence in the value of exploration--"the risks a man has got to take" (§4/§3). Similarly, in The Island of Doctor Moreau, Prendick is a rational, eye-witness observer who only emerges as insanely misanthropic in the final pages. By such concealments the displacement of the whole narrative is avoided.

The reversal in each of these stories shatters the confidence with which Wells's observers set out, but there is no substitute for rationalism as a method. In The War of the Worlds, we are told at the outset that the humanist conception of the universe has been destroyed, but the narrator addresses us in the established terms of rational discourse, and then reassures us of his own essential normality: "For my own part, I was much occupied in learning to ride the bicycle, and busy upon a series of papers discussing the probable developments of moral ideas as civilization progressed" (§1:1). In each case, what is portrayed is a biological or anthropological endeavor; the book is an exposition both of an alien society and of the attempts of a representative bourgeois observer to know it empirically (hence the importance of the observation of the Martians from the ruined house, a literal "camera obscure"). The narrator in The War of the Worlds is drawn to the Martians, although he does not reject human norms as completely as Gulliver does. Both Swift and Wells recognized the inherent destructiveness of rationalism. Wells's attempt to play down the perception appears more deliberate than Swift's insofar as he was obliged to make a more conscious choice of "eighteenth-century" narrative forms.

In later romances Wells dropped the rational observer in favor of characters who directly participate in the alien world. Since his imaginative interests were more genuinely anthropological than political, however, the result is the cruder and less exacting form of adventure narrative typified by When the Sleeper Wakes. There are some interesting half-experiments which reveal something different: The First Men in the Moon, with its split between the earthbound Bedford and the disinterested rationalist Cavor; and In the Days of the Comet, a regrettably slipshod attempt to view the present from the perspective of the future. But Tono-Bungay represents Wells's only major advance in technique, with its use of the autobiographical form to combine social analysis and the pragmatic impressions of an uncertain and somewhat manic narrator. Not only is science eventually symbolized as a destroyer, but the whole novel embodies a displacement of sociological discourse to express the drama of radical individualism in the hero's consciousness. This marks an interesting development in the social novel, but in science fiction the Wellsian model remained that of the adaptation of Enlightenment narrative forms based on the rational, objective observer.9

The effect of moving from Wells's romances to We10 might be compared to the experience of Zamyatin's narrator as he passes beyond the Green Wall of the city:

It was then I opened my eyes--and was face to face, in reality, with that very sort of thing which up to then none of those living had seen other than diminished a thousand times, weakened, smudged over by the turbid glass of the Wall.

The sun--it was no longer that sun of ours, proportionately distributed over the mirror-like surface of the pavements; this sun consisted of some sort of living splinters of incessantly bobbing spots which blinded one's eyes, made one's head go round. And the trees-like candies thrusting into the very sky, like spiders squatting flat against the earth on their gnarled paws, like mute fountains jetting green. . . . (§27).

This is a new reality, neither seen through a glass (a recurrent mode of vision in Wells), nor even in the light of scientific reason. Experience is splintered and blinding; the head whirls and the self loses its centre of gravity. The writer is at the mercy of disparate impressions, and merely records his conflicting impulses as they mount to a nauseous intensity. Although he tries to control his unruly consciousness by a "rational" method, it is the method of a society not our own.

We begins with a directive inviting all numbers to compose poems or treatises celebrating the One State, to be carried on the first flight of the space-rocket Integral as an aid to subjugating the people of other planets. To the narrator, D-503 (the builder of the Integral) this is a divine command, but to use the forcing of a "mathematically infallible happiness" (§1) is brutally imperialistic. The value of space travel itself is thus called into question (a very un-Wellsian touch), by means of the ironical device of a narrator who worships mathematical exactitude and straight lines. Yet as soon as the alienness of D-503's values has been established, it becomes clear that he himself is internally torn. He undertakes literary composition as a duty to the state, but chooses to write, not a poem in accordance with the approved public literary genres (the poetry of the One State is about as rich and varied as that of the Houyhnhnms), but a simple record of his day-today impressions. The conflict of group and private consciousness signified by the novel's title is thus outlined by his initial choice of mode of writing; he thinks to express what "We" experience, but his record becomes irretrievably subjective. Already as he begins the diary his "cheeks are flaming" and he feels as though a child stirred inside him --dangerous signs, for the irrationality of sensation and of the philoprogenitive emotion are motifs of rebellion throughout the novel (090's longing for a child parallels D-503's creative instinct, and during the brief revolutionary outbreak in the One State couples are seen shamelessly copulating in the public view). As he writes his diary, D-503 becomes increasingly conscious of the lack of continuity in his thoughts and the disruption of logical processes; finally he goes to the doctors, who diagnose the diseased growth known as a soul. A healthy consciousness, he is told, is simply a reflecting medium like a mirror; but he has developed an absorptive capacity, an inner dimension which retains and memorizes. The disease is epidemic in the State, and universal fantasiectomy is ordained to wipe it out. Superficially D-503 develops a soul as a result of falling in love with the fascinating I-330, but really it is constituted by the act of writing. It is his identity as a man who wishes to write down his sensations that throws D-503 into mental crisis.

Fittingly, it is the diary which betrays him, together with his rebellious accomplices, to the secret police. It may seem that the one error of the "mathematically perfect state" was to encourage its members to engage in literary expression at all--as in Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, things might run more smoothly if all the books were burnt. But can we be sure of this? At the end, as the rebellion is crushed, D-503 undergoes fantasiectomy and watches the torturing of I-330, sensible only of the aesthetic beauty of the spectacle. Notwithstanding our reaction, this appears to be an exemplary tale from the viewpoint of the One State--and might even have been what its propaganda chiefs wanted. Certainly an undue concentration on the political message of We should not obscure Zamyatin's attempts to suggest the ultimate inexpressibility of his future society; its experience and its culture are structured in ways we can never fully understand. The narrator tries to explain things for the benefits of alien peoples stuck at a twentieth-century level of development, but he also feels himself to be in the position of a geometrical square charged to explain its existence to human beings: "The last thing that would enter this quadrangle's mind, you understand, would be to say that all its four angles are equal" (§5). A similar argument may apply to the status of the book itself.

The classic satirical utopia establishes a social picture through incongruous comparisons, and We does this too; the work of ancient literature most treasured in its future society is the book of railway timetables. But Zamyatin suggests a more disturbing and bewildering alienness than this method can convey. A new experience is rendered in an unprecedented language, or perhaps languages, for D-503's diary is a theatre of linguistic conflict. His "orthodox" selfhood is expressed through a logical discourse, syllogistic in form and drawing repeatedly on mathematics, geometry, and engineering for its stock of metaphors. (There are obvious resemblances to the aggressively "technocratic" style of Zamyatin's essays.) This is the language in which citizens of the One State are trained to reconstruct the infallible reasoning behind the State's bald directives. Even women's faces can be analyzed in terms of geometrical figures, circles and triangles--providing some striking instances of literary Cubism. However, this orthodox, mathematic language is unable to subdue the whole of D-503's experience. He may see his brain as a machine, but it is an overheated machine which vaporizes the coolant of logic. He becomes uncomfortably self-conscious, and his mental operations are no longer smooth and automatic. His analysis of I-330's face reveals two acute triangles forming an X--the algebraic symbol of the unknown. More unknowns supervene, and his memory is forced back to the symbol of unreason in the very foundation of the mathematics he was taught as school-- -1 the square root of minus one. Soon he confronts the existence of a whole "universe of irrationals," of -1 solids lurking in the non-Euclidian space of subjective experience. To his diseased mind, mathematics, the basis of society, seems divided against itself.

The X or unknown element in We always arises within personal experience. It is identified first in the meeting with I-330, and we sense it in the quality of dialogue--probing, spontaneous, and electric--which clashes sharply with the formulaic responses of the narrator's orthodox discourse. He has been taught to reduce everything to a mathematical environment, but as soon as he describes impressions and people, his account takes on an acutely nervous vitality. As the diary proceeds, the hegemony of orthodox discourse diminishes, and the "splintered" style of We, is established--the shifting, expressionistic style which is the basic experience of Zamyatin's reader. The narrator's mood and attention are constantly changing; sensations are momentary and thoughts, whether "correct" or heretical, are only provisional; utterances are characteristically left unfinished. D-503 is encouraged to bear with the confusion of his kaleidoscopic language by the vaguely pragmatic expectation that self-expression must somehow lead to eventual order and clarification. Yet in fact it leads to the consciousness of a schizoid identity from which only fantasiectomy can rescue him.

We does describe a revolution in the streets, but the narrator's involvement is only accidental, for the real battleground is within his head.11 The languages involved are futuristic languages, and (with some lapses) the fixed points to which D-503 can refer are different from ours; thus once his experience has transcended the limitations for which he has been programmed, he is unable to make elementary distinctions between dream and reality. It is Zamyatin's resolute attempt to enter the unknowns of consciousness as well as of politics and technology that makes We one of the most remarkable works of science fiction in existence.

Not its artistic techniques, but its topography and social arrangements (down to Sexual Days and pink tickets) have passed into the subsequent tradition. Verbal innovation and weird experience are part of the stock-in-trade of science-fiction writers, but where the basic assumptions of story and characterization remain unchanged, this is no more than a kind of mannerism. Ivan Yefremov, author of the popular Soviet space-tale Andromeda, outlines a typical attitude:

The mass of scientific information and intricate terminology used in the story are the result of a deliberate plan. It seemed to me that this is the only way to show our distant descendants and give the necessary local (or temporal) colour to their dialogue since they are living in a period when science will have penetrated into all human conceptions and into language itself.12

What is conferred is "local colour," and this is done by the insertion of scientific jargon into the emotive narrative of sentimental fiction. My impression is that, despite the variety of available styles and the consciously manneristic way in which a more sophisticated writer like Ray Bradbury uses them, science fiction has preserved a rigid combination of futuristic environment and conventional form. No doubt there are exceptions. William Golding's The Inheritors involves a highly imaginative projection of "alien consciousness" as I have defined it here. An interesting and perhaps more representative case, however, is that of the one English novel which transmits Zamyatin's direct influence--Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

"Newspeak" perhaps Orwell's most original conception, is based upon developments in the science of propaganda which Zamyatin hardly foresaw. Its penetrating critique of the political uses of language extends what Orwell had done in some of his essays. Yet Newspeak is only the public rhetoric of Oceania, it is relegated to an Appendix in the novel, and it is not scheduled for final adoption until 2050. Winston Smith still speaks Standard English, and the famous opening sentence in which the clocks are striking-thirteen is an effective example of "local colour." Winston, like D-503, is a diarist, but the narrative does not consist of his diary--which is an economical record of things understood and concluded, and not a day-by-day journal of uncertainties and confusions. Winston's diary is an outlet for his rebellious thoughts, but D-503's rebellion is inseparable from his writing. Nineteen Eighty-Four is thus partly a domestication of the rootless, modernist technique of We. It is a novel grounded in the tradition of English realism and in the wartime London landscape, with an appended vision of linguistic change.

Zamyatin does not seem to have doubted that science fiction could be a major literary genre; Wells wrote his masterpieces in the conviction that it could not. In this essay I have tried to suggest some considerations which might apply to science fiction as a mode of imagination, and to outline two models of major expression within it. The first is the Wellsian model--the humanist narrative fable in which a man whom we accept as representative of our culture confronts the biologically and anthropologically unknown. The second, realized by Zamyatin, aims to create the experience and language of an alien culture directly. Each model thus extends social criticism into a more tentative probing of rational epistemological assumptions. The books I have considered are essentially future fantasies in the sense that the century in which they are set does not greatly matter. But there is a third kind of novel, concerned with the very near future, of which Nineteen Eighty-Four and Vonnegut's Player Piano are examples. These novels are science fiction in the sense of including new gadgetry as well as new social institutions, and they may be of great political importance. What I would say of them is that their "feel" now seems very close to that of the contemporary realistic novel. Perhaps reality has indeed become fantastic, as Zamyatin predicted, and we may apply the label of realism to novels of the "recent future" as well as of the recent past.

King's College, Cambridge


1Yevgeny Zamyatin, A Soviet Heretic: Essays by Yevgeny Zamyatin, trans. & ed. Mirra Ginsburg (1970), pl09. The sentence quoted is from "On Literature, Revolution, Entropy, and Other Matters" (1923).

2Alex M. Shane, The Life and Works of Evgenij Zamjatin (1968), pl40.

3George Orwell, Review of We (Tribune Jan. 4, 1946) in The Collected Essays, Joumalism and Letters of George Orwell, ed. Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (1968), 4:72-75.

4Mark R. Hillegas, The Future as Nightmare: H.G. Wells and the Anti-Utopians (1967), pp99-109.

5The text of Herbert Wells followed here is that of the first edition (published in pamphlet form by Epoka, Petersburg, 1922) as translated by Lesley Milne in Patrick Parrinder, ed., H.G. Wells: The Critical Heritage (1972). The essay also appears in Zamyatin (¶1).

6"On Synthetism" appears in Zamyatin (¶1).

7See, e.g., "On Literature. . ." in Zamyatin (¶1), p lll.

8J. Hillis Miller, The Form of Victorian Fiction (1968), p62.

9The reading of Wells's romances presented here is a development of that outlined in my H.G. Wells (1970), pl6 ff.

10The text of We followed here is that of the translation by Bernard Guilbert Guerney (1970) except that the heroine is referred to not as "E-330" but as "I-330", as Zamyatin intended.

11Tony Tanner--in City of Words (1970), p82(UK)/p7l(US)--points out that the heroes of many recent American novels are trying to get away from all political commitment, whether pro or anti. Similarly, D-503 is unwillingly led into conspiracy, and tricked by both sides.

12Quoted on the dust-jacket of Andromeda: A Space-Age Tale (Moscow 1960).



Zamyatin’s reputation in the English-speaking world owes much to George Orwell, who used We as one of the sources for Nineteen Eighty-Four and asserted that Huxley must have drawn upon it in Brave New World. It has become usual to place We in the line that includes those books and other anti-utopias such as Forster’s "The Machine Stops" and Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Apart from Zamyatin, this is a very English tradition—not merely dystopian but deliberately and consciously anti-Wellsian—and Mark R. Hillegas has argued recently that their rejection of Wells’s values has concealed the basic indebtedness of all these writers to Wells’s vision and methods. In Zamyatin’s case, Hillegas shows that We reproduces the broad topography of the Wellsian future romance. Yet his catalogue of motifs tells us little about the spirit in which We was written. The present essay emphasizes two facts barely noted by previous critics. The first is that, far from being a deliberate anti-Wellsian, Zamyatin was the author of Herbert Wells (1922), a sparkling though little known essay that views Wells as in some sense the prototype of the revolutionary modern artist. The second point is that Zamyatin was himself a notably original modernist writer, not merely the precursor of Huxley and Orwell. To pass from The Time Machine to We is to enter a world where the topography may be similar but the nature of experience is utterly changed, so that we are faced with two quite different types of imagination.

moonbut.gif (4466 bytes)Back to Home