Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Yevgeny Zamyatin’s most important piece of fiction was his novel My (1952; We, 1924), which was written in 1920-1921. A satirical examination of a future utopian state, the novel affirms the timeless value of individual liberty and free will in a world which places a premium on conformity and reason. This work exerted a significant influence on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Zamyatin also wrote plays, adaptations, and film scenarios. His early dramatic works are historical plays—Ogni svyatogo Dominika (1922; The Fires of Saint Dominic, 1971) and Attila (1950; English translation, 1971)—while a later work, Afrikanskiy gost (1963; The African Guest, 1971), provides a comic look at philistine attempts to cope with Soviet reality. The author’s most successful adaptation for the screen was a version of Maxim Gorky’s Na dne (1902; The Lower Depths, 1912), which Zamyatin transformed into a screenplay for Jean Renoir’s film Les Bas-fonds (1936; The Lower Depths, 1937).