Russian 3302

The Individual and Society in the Shadow of Revolution


Final Review 

Reading Schedule

Leo Tolstoy

Anton Chekhov


Isaak Babel

Yevgeny Zamyatin Resources

  • Biography from
  • The Crystal Palace, built in London in 1851, was seen as a marvel of architectural achievement. The people in Nikolai Chernyshevsky's Utopian society seen in Vera Pavlovna's dream in What is to be Done? (1863) live in similar structures. For Chernyshevsky the Crystal Palace seemed to represent the power of science and human reason. Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground" (1864. There are many intertextual references to Dostoevsky's great work in We) mentions Crystal Palaces, but his aim seems to be to ridicule Chernyshevsky's faith in rationality. Zamyatin seems to share Dostoevsky's skepticism in regard to the power of people to build a perfect society based on human reason. By Zamyatin's time, hope that technological advances could solve humanity's problems had become mitigated by the knowledge that technology, in the form of deadlier weapons, had added to human misery in WWI. It should also be noted that Zamyatin was an admirer of the works of H. G. Wells, whose Martians use advanced technology to wreak havoc on London (see War of the Worlds, 1898).

Things to think about as you read Zamyatin's We:

  • Pay attention to the numbers and colors used in the novel.
  • How are biblical themes used in the novel?
  • Please think about the relationships among the characters in the novel.
  • How are the changes in D-503 reflected in his writing style?
  • What are other possible meanings of this work beyond its interpretation as political commentary?

Poetry (Audio Files)

Biographies on Friends and Partners:

Ilf's and Petrov's pictures from their American journey with excerpts from One Story America.