Yevgeny Zamyatin

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Yevgeny Zamyatin

Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin (Евге́ний Ива́нович Замя́тин sometimes translated into English as Eugene Zamyatin) (February 1, 1884 - March 10, 1937) was a Russian author, most famous for his novel We, a story of dystopian future which influenced Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Ayn Rand's Anthem.

Zamyatin also wrote a number of short stories, in fairy tale form, that constituted satirical criticism of the Communist regime in Russia such as in a story about a city where the mayor decides that to make everyone happy he should make everyone equal. He starts by forcing every one, himself included, to live in a big barrack, then to shave heads to be equal to the bald, and then to become mentally disabled to equate intelligence downward. This plot is very similar to that of 'The New Utopia' (1891) by Jerome K. Jerome whose collected works were published three times in Russia before 1917.

Zamyatin was born in Lebedian, Russia, two hundred miles south of Moscow. His father was a Russian Orthodox priest and schoolmaster and his mother a musician. He studied naval engineering in St. Petersburg from 1902 until 1908 during which he joined the Bolsheviks. He was arrested during the Russian Revolution of 1905 and exiled but returned to St. Petersburg where he lived illegally before moving to Finland in 1906 to finish his studies. 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 Ujezdnoje (A Provincial Tale) in 1913, which satirised 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. 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. He wrote The Islanders satirising English life, and its pendant "A Fisher of Men", both published after his return to Russia in late 1917.

After the Russian Revolution 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. His works were increasingly critical of the regime. He boldly stated: 'True literature can only exist when it is created, not by diligent and reliable officials, but by madmen, hermits, heretics, dreamers, rebels and sceptics.' This attitude caused his position to become increasingly difficult as the 1920s wore on. Ultimately, his works were banned and he was not permitted to publish, particularly after the publication of We in a Russian emigre journal in 1927.

Zamyatin was eventually given permission to leave Russia by Stalin in 1931, after the intercession of Gorki. He settled in Paris with his wife, where he died in poverty of a heart attack in 1937.

External link

fr:Ievgueni Zamiatine nl:Jevgeni Zamjatin pt:Yevgeny Zamyatin ru:Замятин, Евгений Иванович

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