Birthday Review: Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “The Cave”
Cover by Russell Fitzgerald
Yevgeny Zamyatin (originally Евгений Замятин) was born in Levedyan, Russia on February 1, 1884. He was an early supporter of the Bolshevik Party, joining them before the Russian Revolution of 1917, but he grew disillusioned with their policies following the October Revolution. In 1921 he wrote the essay “I Am Afraid” and also published his major science fiction novel, We (Мы), which became the first work of fiction banned by the Goskomizdat, the Soviet censorship bureau.
The novel was first published in English in 1924 and received a Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 1994. In 1931, Zamyatin appealed to Joseph Stalin, the General Secretary of the Communist Party and was granted permission to emigrate to Paris, where he died in poverty from an heart attack on March 10, 1937.
Zamyatin’s story “The Cave” (“Пещера”) was originally published in Russian in 1922, and reprinted in English in the February 1969 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. In Russian the work was seen as focusing attention on the everyday man when they were still trying to establish the Communist State. The story was also seen as a direct challenge to the ideals of the Revolution which Zamyatin has supported only five years before.