We

Reviewed by Dedi Felman

Image of We

Before there was Brave New World, before there was Orwell's 1984, there was We. This classic dystopian fantasy is more philosophical and, despite its precision, humane than the stinging satires that followed it. But whatever it misses in satirical bite, it more than makes up for in its exacting and often poignant exploration of what it is to be human. When D-503, the perfectly mathematical engineer of the spaceship Integral, encounters the lovely but disturbing I-330, the resulting frisson shakes the perfectly ordered One State to its core. D-503's slow descent into the chaos of emotional life and the "irrationality" of the soul will strike a chord with even the coolest and most systematic of today's One-Minute Managers. The inevitable restoration of order--and the means by which it is achieved--is hauntingly prescient of all that followed in Stalinist Russia, including Zamyatin's own exile and reduction to "nonstatus" in the Russian literary pantheon. You will never trust Reason in quite the same way again.