Yevgeny Zamyatin

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Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin[1] (Russian: Евге́ний Ива́нович Замя́тин, Russian pronunciation: [jɪvˈɡʲenʲɪj ɪˈvanəvʲɪtɕ zɐˈmʲætʲɪn]) (February 20, 1884 – March 10, 1937) was a Russian author, most famous for his 1921 novel We, a story of dystopian future which influenced George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four,[2] Ayn Rand's Anthem, Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed and, indirectly, Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano.


Early life

Zamyatin was born in Lebedyan, 300 km south of Moscow. His father was a Russian Orthodox priest and schoolmaster, and his mother a musician. He may have had synesthesia as he gave letters and sounds qualities. For example, he saw the letter "L" as having pale, cold and light blue qualities.[3]

He studied naval engineering in Saint Petersburg from 1902 until 1908, during which time he joined the Bolsheviks. He was arrested during the Russian Revolution of 1905 and exiled, but returned to Saint Petersburg where he lived illegally before moving to Finland in 1906 to finish his studies.

After returning to Russia, he began to write fiction as a hobby. He was arrested and exiled a second time in 1911, but amnestied in 1913. His Uyezdnoye (A Provincial Tale) in 1913, which satirized life in a small Russian town, brought him a degree of fame. The next year he was tried for maligning the military in his story Na Kulichkakh (At the world's end). He continued to contribute articles to various socialist newspapers.

After graduating as a naval engineer, he worked professionally at home and abroad. In 1916 he was sent to England to supervise the construction of icebreakers at the shipyards in Walker and Wallsend while living in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Literary career

Zamyatin wrote The Islanders, satirizing English life, and its pendant A Fisher of Men, both published after his return to Russia in late 1917. After the Russian Revolution of 1917 he edited several journals, lectured on writing, and edited Russian translations of works by Jack London, O. Henry, H. G. Wells, and others. Zamyatin supported the October Revolution, but opposed the system of censorship under the Bolsheviks.

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