Zamyatin

2002-06-26

I'm finishing up my research into Yevgeny Zamyatin for a paper I've written exploring his (possible) influence on Russian-American novelist Ayn Rand. I think that the influence is there and I provide evidence for thinking so in the paper, which is slated to be published next year in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Zamyatin is a fascinating writer (best-known for his novel We, which was the original dystopia -- move over 1984!), and I find his deep individualism quite congenial to my way of thinking.

One possible source for ideas expressed by Zamyatin in We and Rand in Anthem is the short story "The New Utopia" by Jerome K. Jerome (PDF), published in 1891 and widely read in Russia (in Jerome's tale, people have numbers rather than names, the family has been outlawed in favor of government-controlled breeding, etc.). Another possible influence is Dostoevsky. In separate essays published in Gary Kern's anthology Zamyatin's We: Essays, Richard Gregg argues that We owes much to both Notes From Underground and The Possessed, and Susan Layton argues that Zamyatin's "Synthetism" is a descendent of Dostoevsky's "Romantic Realism". Interestingly, Rand described her own literary aesthetics as "Romantic Realism", although she meant something different by the term (I think the most accurate term for her aesthetics is "Heroic Symbolism", though the art created by her followers even shades over into Objectivist Realism if you ask me). Much to chew on here. And I simply must read more Dostoevsky!


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal