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An overview of the three novels brave new world animal farm and 1984

Originally released in New York in 1921 after being banned prior to publication in Russia, We had recently been translated into French, in which Orwell was fluent. As the recent author of Animal Farm and a writer for whom fiction and politics belonged together, Orwell seemed a natural choice to examine this dystopian work.

English Classics Part 1: Animal Farm & Brave New World

We tells the story of D-503, a man living in a dystopian city of the future in which people no longer have Christian names and are known instead by a letter followed by a series of numbers. In this city, citizens are subjected to constant surveillance by a branch of government called the Bureau of Guardians, with an all-powerful leader called the Well-Doer "the Benefactor" in some translations.

At a point early on, D-503 notices a particular woman showing up wherever he goes. Filled with suspicion, he first hates her, but soon falls in love with her. She inspires him to commit acts of rebellion against the state. In this city, citizens are subjected to constant surveillance by a branch of government called the Thought Police, with an all-powerful leader called Big Brother.

At a point early on, Winston notices a particular woman showing up wherever he goes.

English Classics Part 1: Animal Farm & Brave New World

Orwell never acknowledged having borrowed from We for his masterpiece, but the timing of his reading it, along with some of the uncanny similarities between the two novels, make it hard to conclude otherwise. In both novels, freedom is considered by the state to be an evil and the enemy of a proper life. In both, the protagonist keeps a diary that he is composing at great risk and which he hopes will be read by future generations.

Both feature public executions as a means of rousing frenzied loyalty to their respective leaders by the citizenry.

In both, the 12-hour clock is no longer in use. In We, D-503 writes: There is but one truth, and there is but one path to it; and that truth is: In 1984, Winston writes in his diary: Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows.

To be fair, Orwell was not the only writer to borrow copiously from We.

For all of its lack of recognition with the general population, many 20th century authors of literary dystopian novels have considered We to be something of a benchmark—Ayn Rand is said to have taken inspiration from it, as had Vladimir Nabokov, who apparently read it before he wrote Invitation to a Beheading. Kurt Vonnegut alludes to this in an interview with Playboy when he mentions Player Piano's debt to We, saying, "I cheerfully ripped off the plot of Brave New World, whose plot had been cheerfully ripped off from Yevgeny Zamyatin's We.

COLLECTIONS

There are differences between We and 1984, of course. In We there is a single class to which all but government officials belong.

  • They want to end a life of misery and oppression, and declare men as their primary enemies;
  • Day and night we are watching over your welfare;
  • Old age has been eradicated too;
  • Any thoughts to share about them?
  • Here, the reasons become a little harder to pinpoint;
  • We pigs are brainworkers.

In 1984, the Inner Party members represent the upper class, the Outer Party members a sort of middle class, and the proles the lower. In We, the entire city is made of glass, which enables the constant surveillance. In 1984, telescreens installed in every home and public place do so. D-503 is the lead engineer on the Integral, a spaceship with which to conquer other planets.

  • This world is governed by ten Word Controllers and a strict social order that allows it to prosper;
  • See you soon with more English classics!
  • Many of us actually dislike milk and apples;
  • And Orwell never loses sight of his own story, while there are sections of We in which Zamyatin meanders in his depiction of the very world he has imagined, leaving the reader puzzled;
  • People cannot think or feel anymore.

Here, the reasons become a little harder to pinpoint. And Orwell never loses sight of his own story, while there are sections of We in which Zamyatin meanders in his depiction of the very world he has imagined, leaving the reader puzzled. In addition, Orwell was wise to set his dystopia in a recognizable location and in a near future that might hit close to home for readers. We, on the other hand, is set in the 26th century and in a city that no reader would directly relate to as their own gone wrong.

Zamyatin, who as a dissident writer found himself persecuted by the Soviet regime—he was imprisoned and eventually exiled to France—likely aimed to instill his novel with a milieu not identifiably Soviet, but universal in nature. Orwell endowed Winston with a barely contained contempt for the political system in which he is trapped from the outset, creating a tension that compels the plot forward.

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Hers are the actions that drive the plot, while D-503, though the protagonist, never manages to become truly sympathetic. Still, the reaction to We in Russia suggests that it was an important book there: But a Russian publisher in Prague printed the novel in its original Russian in 1927 and copies were smuggled back into Russia, passing from reader to reader.

Had the book not struck a nerve, it would have been a different story. We successfully takes the emergent ideology of his time to a terrifying logical endpoint. If Zamyatin came up with the template for the 20th century dystopian novel, then Orwell perfected it. Art always builds upon art that came before it, but rarely does such an overt appropriation remain so little known.