01 September 2006


I'm a big fan of dystopian novels and stories, so I'm really surprised I've never heard of this author nor his novel (which predates 1984 and Brave New World) called We:

As the novel opens, it's the 26th century A.D., and the Earth is under the power of the government of the dictator known as the Benefactor. A Two-Hundred-Years War has killed all but .02 percent of the world's population, giving rise to the One State, which was partly created out of the need to ensure that there could be no more revolutions. The One State has discovered the equation for "mathematically infallible happiness," which mostly consists of eliminating ego and desire. People no longer have names but numbers, and they're taught to think of themselves not as individuals, but as parts of a whole, a unified "we."

I'm going to have to get a copy of this.


Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

We is So good. I love it. I've actually got a Russian language copy as after being banned there for 75 years, it was finally allowed to come back into print with the fall of Communism.

There's a really good translation by Maria... Goldbach, I think? Something like that. Anyway, though, I think there's a new translation available now, but I'm not sure. You can actually often find We in used bookstores for, like, say, a buck or two. It's DEFINITELY worth it, though. In fact, both Brave New World and 1984 were influenced heavily by this book -- I believe Brave New World was just influenced by the book and sort of an unofficial translation of it -- 1984 was a more focused attempt at a real translation, though, still, not really close enough to be one. Also, We is far better than both novels combined. (Seriously, is it just me or would Brave New World been like, infiinitely better if Huxley didn't bring in the Savage and just wandered around the world for a while? Then again, I've never been too into Huxley's writing, though I've only read Ape & Essence (pretentious, clumsy tripe) and Island (bland pot-boilery attempt at doing an inverted Brave New World). Orwell doesn't really blow my skirt up either, though. But I loved 1984 in 8th grade.

Anthony Burgess' 1985 is pretty interesting, or, well, at least the first half is -- it's an essay about 1984 and dystopias in general. The second half is another Dystopia novella, but it's sorta half-assed -- check out The Wanting Seed instead for the story.

But yeah -- We is DEFINITELY a MUST have/read. I need to get another copy after one of my friend's teacher's swiped my copy....

7:38 PM, September 01, 2006  
Blogger Lee H. said...

Yes, there is a new translation of We out, but I may look for that translation you mentioned, esp. since it'll be cheaper. :) You've piqued my curiosity even more!

I've actually read the essay half of 1985 (Arn has it in hardbackaround here somewhere), and I LOVED The Wanting Seed. I haven't read THAT in about 15 years... I should go back and give that one another go-round.

9:29 PM, September 01, 2006  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

Some of the old paperback covers are pretty neat. The one I had was a brown collage with hands growing from soil. Didn't have much to do with the book, really, but it had this great, eerie, creepy vibe to it. Better than the cover I frequently see (of the old version) which is a blue one with two nude figures in a kind of crude painting style. Or the Penguin Classics (which I think is the same translation) with the big bald head on it. Sort of a creepy cover as well, but in an uglier sense (though I think that one might actually be from an At Least Somewhat Famous Art Piece, so I'm all "DURR WHY CAN'T IT BE A PRETTY PICTURE OF A KITTEN IN A MEADOW WITH A RAINBOW?" or something). I should check out the new cover.

I've got a hardback of 1985, too -- found it at Goodwill about 15 years ago for a buck and picked it up, particularly because I really dug Wanting Seed and hadn't heard anything about it, but flipped through it a bit. If you're going to read one half of a book this year, make it the essay half of 1985!

1:31 AM, September 02, 2006  

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