Evgenii Ivanovich Zamiatin

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Zamiatin, Evgenii Ivanovich

 

Born Jan. 20 (Feb. 1), 1884, in Lebedian’, in present-day Lipetsk Oblast; died Mar. 10, 1937, in Paris. Russian writer.

Zamiatin graduated from the shipbuilding department of the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute. He participated in the Revolution of 1905–07. He published his first work in 1908. Prior to the October Revolution, Zamiatin’s creative work developed along the lines of Russian critical realism and was colored with democratic tendencies. His best novella, “Tale of a District” (1913), grotesquely and satirically de-scribes the life of the Russian provincial lower middle class. In 1914, Zamiatin published At World’s End, an antimilitaristic novella for which he was prosecuted.

In 1916, Zamiatin went to England, whose bourgeois, dehumanizing civilization provided him with material for his satirical novella Islanders (1918). He returned to Russia in the fall of 1917, but he was unable to accept the reality of the revolution. His works from 1917 on are marked by a deep pessimism, also felt in his essays (“I am Afraid,” 1921). In his many highly stylized fantastic-allegorical stories, parables, and dramatic scenarios—for example, The Cave (1920, published in 1921) and Tulumbas: The Epistle of Humble Zamutii, Bishop of the Apes (1921)—Zamiatin distortedly depicts wartime communism and the Civil War as a return to a primitive “cave” existence. His antiutopian novel We (1921, published in England in 1924) expresses his hostility towards socialism. In 1932 he was granted permission by the Soviet government to go abroad.

WORKS

Sobr. soch., vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1929.

REFERENCES

Pisateli sovremennoi epokhi, vol. 1. Moscow, 1928.
Voronskii, A. “Evgenii Zamiatin.” In his book Literaturnokriticheskie stat’i. Moscow, 1963.
Kuznetsov, M. M.Sovetskii roman. Moscow, 1963.
Andreev, lu. A.Revoliutsiia i literatura. Leningrad, 1969. Pages 51–58.

O. N. MIKHAILOV

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Marxist literary scholar Darko Suvin reinterprets the classic science-fiction novel We by Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin.
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If, however, 'literature' reduces itself, more or less, to prose fiction, 'English' seems by contrast to extend its sway with a kind of imperial swagger, effortlessly encompassing Thomas and Klaus Mann, Alexandra Kollontai, and Yevgeny Zamyatin.
Its forms are as varied as its victims: from an anonymous medieval invective against social injustice to the superb wit of Geoffrey Chaucer and the laughter of Rabelais; from the burlesque of Luigi Pulci to the scurrilities of Pietro Aretino and the "black humor" of Lenny Bruce; from the flailings of John Marston and the mordancies of Francisco Gomez de Quevedo to the bite of Jean de La Fontaine and the great dramatic structures of Ben Jonson and Moliere; from an epigram of Martial to the fictions of Nikolay Gogol and of Gunter Grass and the satirical utopias of Yevgeny Zamyatin, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell.
A bit earlier, in the classic era of dystopian writing around the time of the two world wars, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Yevgeny Zamyatin, and others descfibed the makings of sophisticated totalitarian regimes.
But both of these visionaries are indebted to a relatively little-known novel entitled We by all-but-forgotten Soviet novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin.
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They learned their craft from the innovative elder writer Yevgeny Zamyatin.
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