Summary Zamyatin

What we enjoyed:

– story was told in an interesting way, took some time to get used to it, diary / account
– felt very intimate, close to when things happened
– immediacy
– interesting narrator
– fever-dream like?
– not linear storytelling, emotions of narrator mirrored in the story
– difficult to understand sometimes
– narrator 100% part of the system, ‘others’ the reader and our way of living as something of the past, which is unbelievable or ridiculous
– futuristic technology / sci-fi elements, not an anti-technology dystopia
– “like an engine running at full speed”
– “it feels chaotic in a good way”
– narrator very much in the world, inside the system, breaks out of the system by chance (and by falling in love)
– narrator’s job and existence of a scientist informs the way he uses language, very informative
– mathematical knowledge shapes how he sees women, for example –> interesting choice of language
– events are spiralling out of control
– book inspired by the Russian revolution (and other revolutions)
– author also fascinating
– rationality ridiculed
– political comment / satire fascinating
– genre interesting: dystopia but also scifi with spaceships
– parallels to 1984 fascinating, especially the ending
– gets better when read the second time, one discovers something new every time one reads
– “grand grand grand father of the modern dystopian novels”
– also informed Huxley and “Brave New World”
– remarkable book
– government organises life like a machine
– psychological portrait of the protagonist, fascinating but also disturbing
– banned in Russia, fascinating history of how the book came to be
– wall separating people / society from nature –> tear this wall down, let emotions in
– scary yet funny sometimes
– broken characters, morally ambiguous –> totally different reality
– hopeful ending despite the narrator rejoining the system and undergoing the procedure, circling back
– operation that kills your imagination is scary
– rereading this book is great, discover something new again and again
– immensely smart dystopia
– there will always be another revolution, infinite revolutions, there is no “final revolution”
– great he managed to save O and (t)he(i)r child

What we discussed:

  • – writing style and allusions / puns interesting, bit hard to follow in parts, “fever dream”
    – emotional involvement of the readers meh, “was a bit much at times”
    – relationship between D and I / O weird
    – female roles limited: motherly type, seductress, evil spy granny
    – main protagonist bit weird too
    – long term girlfriend: too short to have kids, wants to have kids, only personality trait?
    – Awkward depiction of a Black character, physical description, ‘othered’, “African nose” wtf?
    – abrupt sometimes, dynamic story but reader left confused
    – understanding everything partly confusing, some of us had to read up on things
    – BONK D should go to horny jail
    – revolutionary because he is horny? Weird message
    – ending both negative and positive, interesting –> like in 1984, narrator part of the system again but not all hope is lost?
    – abrupt ending, very dark, I is being tortured but it’s exact and not emotional –> distance scary –> chilling –> his emotions are gone
  • Rating:

    – hard to decide, “accept it as a classic of science fiction or dystopia” but according to personal taste: 3/5
    – “really love the book”, 4.5/5, really could feel what was happening but also confusing. Made us really feel their reality
    – 3/5 appreciate it being a classic and being super influential, might reread it but not now, writing style exhausting, not entirely to their taste
    – 3 stars: not a very good story, but the rest is fascinating, great ideas
    – 4/5 more interesting than exhausting classic

Other books we talked about:

– John Green “Anthropocene Reviewed” is great, not what one expected but great
– New Becky Chambers book great, wholesome, a non-binary tea monk, robots left to live in the wilderness, wonderful
– Robert Jordan “Wheel of Time” series great, there will be an Amazon series later this year, read it if you like thick bricks of books and high fantasy!


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