Extrapolation

Double-edged Satire in Zamyatin’s We

Extrapolation (2015), 56, (3), 267–286.

Abstract

At the end of We, our narrator retreats to an underground bathroom to complete his manuscript as Mephi revolutionaries take to the streets above. D-503’s withdrawal from the fighting can easily be read as a cowardly abdication of political responsibility. In this paper, however, we will argue that D-503’s retreat to his writing is the novel’s true revolutionary act. To do so we will first use a Foucaultian understanding of biopower to critique the Mephi as a viable political alternative. We will then use Bakhtin’s novel theory to appraise D-503’s journal as the last dialogic space left between the converging OneState and Mephi, two ideologies that both come to demand the total subjugation of D-503’s narratorial “I” to their monologic “we.” D-503’s records thus provide the final safeguard against the perfect tyranny sought by OneState and Mephi alike.

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Bakhtin, Mikhail. “Epic and Novel.” The Dialogic Imagination. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin: Texas UP, 1981. Print. Epic and Novel The Dialogic Imagination Google Scholar

Bakhtin, Mikhail. “From Notes Made in 1970-71” Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. Trans. Vern McGee. Austin: Texas UP, 1986. Print. From Notes Made in 1970-71 Speech Genres and Other Late Essays Google Scholar

Bakhtin, Mikhail. Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics. Trans. Caryl Emerson. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 1984. Print. Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics Google Scholar

Barthes, Roland. The Pleasure of the Text. Trans. Richard Miller. New York: Hill and Wang, 1975. Print. The Pleasure of the Text Google Scholar

Cooke, Brett. Human Nature in Utopia: Zamyatin’s We. Chicago: Northwestern UP, 2002. Print. Human Nature in Utopia: Zamyatin’s We Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. Madness and Civilization. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Vintage, 1965. Print. Madness and Civilization Google Scholar

Foucault, Michel. “Society Must Be Defended.” Biopolitics: A Reader. Ed. Timothy Campbell and Adam Sitze. Durham: Duke UP, 2013. Print. Society Must Be Defended Biopolitics: A Reader Google Scholar

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Groys, Boris. The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond. Trans. Charles Rougle. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1992. Print. The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond Google Scholar

Horan, Thomas. “Revolutions from the Waist Downwards: Desire as Rebellion in Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, George Orwell’s 1984, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.” Extrapolation 48.2 (2007): 314–339. Web. 22 Dec. 2014. Revolutions from the Waist Downwards: Desire as Rebellion in Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, George Orwell’s 1984, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World Extrapolation 48.2 314 339 Google Scholar

Morson, Gary Saul. Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time. New Haven: Yale UP, 1994. Print. Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time Google Scholar

Stites, Richard. Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1988. Print. Revolutionary Dreams: Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution Google Scholar

Striedter, Jurij. “Journeys through Utopia: Introductory Remarks to the Post-Revolutionary Russian Utopian Novel.” Poetics Today 3.1 (1982): 33–60. Web. 1 June 2015. Journeys through Utopia: Introductory Remarks to the Post-Revolutionary Russian Utopian Novel Poetics Today 3.1 33 60 Google Scholar

Suvin, Darko. “Locus, Horizon, and Orientation: The Concept of Possible Worlds as a Key to Utopian Studies.” Utopian Studies 1.2 (1990): 69–83. Web. 1 June 2015. Locus, Horizon, and Orientation: The Concept of Possible Worlds as a Key to Utopian Studies Utopian Studies 1.2 69 83 Google Scholar

Ulph, Owen. “I-330: Reconsiderations on the Sex of Satan,” Zamyatin’s We: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Gary Kern. Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1988. Print. I-330: Reconsiderations on the Sex of Satan, Zamyatin’s We: A Collection of Critical Essays Google Scholar

Voronsky, Alexander. “Evgeny Zamyatin.” Zamyatin’s We: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Gary Kern. Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1988. Print. Evgeny Zamyatin Zamyatin’s We: A Collection of Critical Essays Google Scholar

Wegner, Phillip. Imaginary Communities: Utopia, the Nation, and Spatial Histories of Modernity. Berkley: California UP, 2002. Print. Imaginary Communities: Utopia, the Nation, and Spatial Histories of Modernity Google Scholar

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Zamyatin, Yevgeny. We. Trans. Clarence Brown. New York: Penguin, 1993. Print. We. Trans. Clarence Brown. Google Scholar

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Eichholz, Patrick

Eichholz, Patrick