Image provided by Gaelan Gilbert

Gaelan Gilbert
Teacher and Writer

Affiliation with UVic English: Graduate Student, PhD 2014; Staff

Special Book: We, Yevgeny Zamyatin

When did you first read this book: 2006

Which sentence from this book has special significance for you?

“It is for you to place the beneficial yoke of reason round the necks of the unknown beings who inhabit other planets – still living, it may be, in the primitive state known as freedom.”

What does the sentence mean to you?

These lines from the first page of Zamyatin’s 1921 dystopia (from which Orwell and Huxley both later drew) smack of that critical irony unique to real political satire, the propaganda of the institution of the self. It was with Zamyatin’s “We” that I first tasted the heady mixture of Russian carnivalesque humor and the the experimental use of fiction for imagining political futures. And I loved it, not least because I sensed Bakhtin hovering somewhere near, reading medieval romances much to the same effect…