Devoted to an ideal Bolshevism, Zamyatin rejoiced at the coming of the Russian Revolution in 1917. He had been jailed and exiled for anticzarist activities in 1905 and 1911, and the Petersburg District Court had interdicted publication of one of his short stories in 1913. From 1917 to 1921 Zamyatin became a leading figure in Leningrad intellectual circles, respected for the virtuosity of his work as creative artist and critic. With the introduction of the New Economic Policy in 1921, however, he came under attack from communist critics, who characterized him as a decadent, apolitical individualist who was hostile to the Revolution. The Leningrad Regional Administration of Literary and Publishing Affairs banned his verse tragedy Attila in 1928 for its anti-Soviet character, shortly after it had been warmly received by an audience that included eighteen factory directors.
In 1929, with the purge of the All-Russian Union of Writers consequent to the adoption of the First Five Year Plan, Zamyatin came under increasingly heavy criticism for the romantic individualism of his major work, the anti-utopian novel My, completed in 1921 and first published as a whole, in English translation, as We (1924). As a result of that purge, Zamyatin’s books were removed from the shelves of many Soviet libraries, and dogmatic critics were prepared to stop publication of anything new that Zamyatin might produce.
In June, 1931, Zamyatin...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin was born on February 1, 1884, in Lebedyan, a small town in the Russian heartland. The writer would later point out with pride that the town was famous for its cardsharps, Gypsies, and distinctive Russian speech, and he would utilize this spicy material in his mature fiction. His childhood, however, was a lonely one, and as the son of a village teacher, he spent more time with books than with other children.
After completing four years at the local school in 1896, Zamyatin went on to the Gymnasium in Voronezh, where he remained for six years. Immediately after he was graduated, Zamyatin moved to St. Petersburg to study naval engineering at the Petersburg Polytechnic Institute. Over the next few years, Zamyatin became interested in politics and joined the Bolshevik Party. This political involvement led to his arrest late in 1905, when the student was picked up by the authorities who were trying to cope with the turbulent political agitation that swept the capital that year. Zamyatin spent several months in solitary confinement, and he used the time to write poetry and study English. Released in the spring of 1906, Zamyatin was exiled to Lebedyan. He soon returned to St. Petersburg, however, and lived there illegally until he was discovered and exiled again in 1911.
By this time he had been graduated from the Institute and had been appointed a lecturer there. He also had made his debut as a writer: in 1908, he...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
Yevgeny Zamyatin was born in 1884 in the central Russian town of Lebedyan, in the Tambov province, south of Moscow. His father was a priest, who held strict religious and conservative views. After finishing high school in the nearby city of Voronezh, Zamyatin was graduated from the University of St. Petersburg with a degree in naval engineering. In 1905 he joined the Bolshevik Party and subsequently was arrested for his revolutionary activity and jailed briefly. He began to move toward a more liberal socialist view. Zamyatin published his first story in 1908, followed by his first exceptional story, A Provincial Tale, and by a satire about the army life in Vladivostok, A Godforsaken Hole, which established him as one of the best among the younger Russian writers.
As a naval engineer, Zamyatin was sent to England in 1916 to oversee the building of ice-breaker ships for the Russian government. There, he was able to observe the English way of life and English people. His experiences resulted in an impressive work, The Islanders, which advanced his status as a writer. Returning to Russia, he was engulfed in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Even though he had once belonged to the Bolshevik Party and later to a leftist socialist party, he was highly critical of the way the revolution was carried out. When he criticized the barbarity and violence of the Bolsheviks, they began to view him with suspicion, a distrust that lasted until...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
The son of a rural schoolteacher, Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin was born in the small town of Lebedyan on January 20, 1884. Located on the Don River, the town lies in the heart of old Russia, and Zamyatin notes that it was famed “for its cardsharpers, gypsies, horse fairs, and the most vivid Russian speech.” Provincial Russia would figure prominently in Zamyatin’s later fiction, but in his youth, he took little interest in it. Instead, his childhood was marked by a keenly felt isolation. Having few playmates, he regarded books as his real companions. Learning to read at the age of four, he called Fyodor Dostoevski and Ivan Turgenev his “elders” and Nikolai Gogol his “friend.”
In 1896, after four years at the local school, Zamyatin enrolled in the Gymnasium (college-preparatory secondary school) in Voronezh. Six years later, he finished school with a gold medal, which he immediately pawned when he went to St. Petersburg to study naval engineering. During the next few years, he took classes at the Petersburg Polytechnic Institute, spending his summers working in shipyards and factories throughout Russia. He developed an interest in politics, and he soon joined the Bolshevik Party. During the frenetic political turmoil of St. Petersburg at the end of 1905, Zamyatin was picked up in a mass arrest and was forced to spend several months in solitary confinement; he spent his time in jail writing poetry and studying English. In the spring of...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin (zuhm-YAHT-yihn) was an important Russian satirist, one of the formulators of the dystopian genre, and a masterful essayist, dramatist, and writer of short fiction. He was born on February 1, 1884, in Lebedyan, Tambov Province, in the central farmland of Russia. His family belonged to the educated middle class, his father being a priest and teacher in the local school and his mother a pianist. Zamyatin was educated from 1893 to 1902 locally and at Voronezh. In 1902 he commenced the study of naval engineering at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute, spending his summers touring Russia and the Middle East.
As a result of a certain innate rebelliousness, Zamyatin early became a Bolshevik, was briefly imprisoned in 1905, and was several times exiled from St. Petersburg. He completed his studies in 1908, accepting a lectureship at the Institute in Naval Architecture. During World War I, he spent some eighteen months in England but returned during the Revolution. He had long before ceased to be a Bolshevik but sympathized with the cause. After witnessing massive impoverishment and government brutality, however, he frequently satirized the state. He was most overtly critical of authoritarian regimes in the dystopian novel We, his masterpiece.
Throughout his career, Zamyatin continued to lecture at the institute. He produced innumerable stories, fables, sketches, and essays, and served on the editorial boards of...
(The entire section is 871 words.)