View Full Version : 1984 / We

07-27-2003, 01:00 AM
Hey, so the title of the book in Russian is "Menya"? Is the book still in print?

07-27-2003, 01:00 AM
So is "1984" a copy of "We", or merely something which is coincidentally similar? I mean, would Orwell have read or even known about "We" given the fact it was unpublished and written in Russian?

Mark D. Brown
07-27-2003, 01:00 AM
Having read both Zamyatin's "We" and Orwell's "1984" recently, I noted that the preface to my edition of "We" also alluded to the relationship between the two works. While, certainly, one could easily imagine Orwell drawing ideas from "We", he did not attempt to imitate or replicate "We"- certainly not stylistically. The objective and orderly third-person narrative of "1984" is in sharp contrast to the discordant first-person stream-of-consciousness narrative of "We".<br> If I were to attempt to compare "We" to another similar Anti-Utopian work, I would consider "Brave New World". The simple reason is that, in "We" and "World", one could infer that the "Utopian" societies depicted were not malicious or seeking power for the sake of power as was expressly stated in the final part of "1984" by O'brian as he tortures Winston Smith. Rather, the societies of "We" and "Brave New World" were obviously working piously for the Bright Tomorrow either in terms of bettering itself, or, in the case of "We", bettering hethen races of the distant stars. Both the Societies of "We" and "World" were societies where a vision of rationality and the desire for social order had overwelmed the desire for humanity, individual dignity, and personal meaning. Thus, the citizens of those societies became what we would regard as twisted parodies of human beings.<br><br> On the other hand, "1984" is about a society dedicated to channelling and controlling human energy- power, as it were. The society of "1984" differs from the socieites of "We" and "Brave New World" in that there is really no future to hope for. Indeed, the emotion of hope (along with love, friendship, and personal loyalty) are criminal to even think about. Imagine a boot stamping a human face forever and you have Ingsoc- the pilosophy of Oceania. There is no tomorrow, only the continual pressure of the boot heel. There is no hope of improvement of the human condition- on the contrary, the goal is to make the weight of the boot heavier, it's sole harder, the downward pressure more relentless and unbearable. The ultimate objective is to optimise the amount of energy one gets out of a society of people in a given period of time- to get the most Power. This is done by eliminating love, fostering hate, and by destroying the joys of sex, marriage, friendship, or any other potential outlet of human spiritual energy. Therefore, the party can tap this great energy for it's own ends of gathering more energy by conquering more people and bringing them under the heel of their boot.<br><br> I cannot help but think that "1984" is much more hopeless than "We" or "Brave New World" because it is based on a future where hope and the future are relinquished. Somehow, human mortality doesn't stop us from wanting to look ahead to something better than what we have today. Therefore, "1984" comes across (to me, at least) as far more tragic and abhorent than either "We" or "Brave New World". Please understand that this abhorence is with Ingsoc and Oceania and does not diminish my esteem for "1984" nor for Orwell who was one of the greatest essayists of his time. Rather, I regard "1984" as having an additional refinement over the two earlier works in that it depicts a society where "social good" is unequivocally renounced and where power is the end and not the means. Few fictional societies and no real societies I know of put the matter so baldly nor do they state so clearly the willingness to use human misery as an integral part of their ambitions.

09-11-2003, 01:00 AM
It is closely related to We, so I have heard, but it is also very similar to Brave New World, in case you wanted to check that out.

09-13-2003, 01:00 AM
"The original is better composed, the characters are more alive and the language is at times pure poetry."<br><br>Out of curiosity, how can you say that about a work that's been translated prior to you reading it?<br><br>Anyway, according to the afterword in '1984', the original idea for a negative utopia (sometimes, after the fact, known as a 'dystopia', though, oddly, the afterword doesn't mention this) was a Jack London book, "The Iron Hell", written before either of the two books you mention. And London is an acknowledged influence on Orwell.

Eric Blair
02-21-2004, 02:00 AM
I would say that "We" and "1984" are easily as different as "1984" and "Brave New World," or any of the other major dystopic novels ("Player Piano" comes to mind.) "1984" is by no means a copy of "We"- it couldn't possibly be one. "We" was published in 1921, and can therefore contain none of the commentary about Stalin and Trotsky (Big Brother and Emmanuel Goldstein) which run throughout Orwell's novel. Further, "We" is an extrapolation of an entirely different social environment; while "1984" could be said to be the future of the totalitarian state, "We" is rather more the result of genuine, Marxist communism- the unimportance of the individual and the overwhelming personality of the State are key ideas throughout, and there is no real focus on forcing orthodoxy on anyone- a key component of both totalitarianism and Ingsoc. Further, I would say that "1984" is far and away the superior novel- "We" is decidedly difficult to read, both in the original and in translation, due to its rather intensive focus on mathematics. Further, Zamyatin's character development is, in my opinion, far weaker than Orwell's; I can never really identify with any of D-503's opinions to begin with, so his personality changes, both that which leads him to betray the State and that which brings him back, seem much less important than Winston's.

02-21-2004, 02:00 AM
im sorry ray, but if you're gonna be a smart-you-know-what, then at least be smart! Stalin did not lead the communist revolution, that was Lenin. And anyways, who cares if 1984 is a copy. It's reiterating a very important point. You can't let the government get out of control because it will come back to haunt you.

05-16-2004, 01:00 AM
I have been reading these comments intently of late, and am intruiged by many of the ideas submitted. I believe '1984' is an astonishing semi-prognosis and that Orwell, regardless of influence, has written a brilliant novel.<br><br>However, for my own purposes, i would liek to ask for help - i am studying the book at university and have an assignment question to answer. i have done the body of the work and am only asking for further ideas. the question is as follows<br><br>""Disenchantment, disaffection, rootlessness and frustration characterize the protagonists in much of British post war fiction." How might this proposition account for the presentation of major characters as outsiders and alienated as opposed to in the main flow of history.<br><br>Any ideas? post here or email me.<br><br>Thanks

Just So
04-26-2005, 10:54 AM
Or Ayn Rand's the Anthem. These sort of stories are a recurring theme in literature. See my comments on the main page as to why I think 1984 is unique.

04-26-2005, 10:57 AM
Thanks for the reference

05-24-2005, 06:07 PM
WARNING THIS MIGHT SHOCK YOU!<br><br>Not trying to be a smart you-know-what, but "1984" is for the most part a copy of a story first published in 1921. Seriously. <br>Not only that, the original is hailed as "the best single work of SF yet written" I would like to encourage everybody to read this story, as it will only add to the experience of reading "1984"<br><br>It is called "We" (the english translation, in russian the title is "My") and was written by Yevgeny Zamyatin. <br>The author wrote the book in the time of, and in protest against, the communist revolution led by Josef Stalin and it's goal of a perfect, unified state. The impact of telling the story on the radio was enough to have Zamyatin exiled and the story suppressed. It was only first published in Russia, and in russian, in 1988, more than sixty years after it was written! <br>I know of at least 3 different translations you can buy at Amazon and have delivered within a week, so this is not some dead story you can only import at a huge rate or find in an obscure bookhouse. It cost me $ 13...<br><br>The story is set in 2500 or there about and tells the story of D-503, a spaceship designer, one of the ten million Numbers living in OneState, and his love affair with a woman, I-330, who wants to start a revolution in OneState.<br>Their "Big Brother" is called "The Benefactor" and he uses people to spy, not telescreens. They have a huge glass wall around their clean cities and they live by The Table wich tells them when they have to do what and they are almost happy. Almost...<br><br>The biggest differences between "We" and "1984" are that Orwell was able to turn the idea's and the main characters of the original into something that was a distinct possible future, and the fact that he turned "1984" into a future that lacked the beauty, elegance and comfort portraid in "We". <br>In short, Zamyatin created an idea and Orwell put it in it's best setting.<br>In addition to this I must say that no matter how much I was disturbed by "1984" and it's dark, cruel world, it is not as well written as "We"<br>The original is better composed, the characters are more alive and the language is at times pure poetry. It is not limited to the themes in "1984"<br>but also handles themes proposed in "Brave New World" by Aldeous Huxley. It speaks of writing, love, art, economy and clear blue skies as easily as it does of revolution, mathematics and sharp white theeth.<br><br>I love both these stories and have read both books often and they can live without doing injustice to each other, so please, read and feel the original horror of distopia in "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin.<br>