During Russia’s transition to communism in the early 20th century, conflict and unease permeated every part of life. Nothing was stable and very little of what the Bolsheviks had fought for had come to fruition by the time the USSR disbanded in 1991. The “classless society”, which was to work together for the prosperity of everyone, never became a reality. In the end, the majority of Russia’s 20th century was an utter failure on a grand scale. However, there were many amazing products of the system do to the great importance of education in Russian culture. Priceless novels were written, timeless movies were made, and great scientific endeavors were realized despite the rigid control placed upon Russian persons by the government. In fact, some of the most memorable written works of the time were written protests to the creativity-stifling situation many writers found themselves in. Because of the danger to their lives should the wrong people be upset by their writings, Yevgeny Zamyatin and Mikhail Bulgakov wrote their most popular, Soviet-life condemning novels under the guise of satire. Even though they’re satirizing the same subject, in both We and The Master and Margarita respectively, they take very different paths to do so.
Satire is a literary method of saying one thing by saying something completely different yet comparable to the intended target of the satire. In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, he indirectly criticized America’s Red Scare by writing about the historic Salem witch trials. Zamyatin, through his authorship of We, criticized the future of Russia he foresaw due the changes already being made by Lenin and the rest of the early Bolshevik leaders. His prediction for the future was quite accurate; just 10 years after he wrote the novel, creation of art in the USSR became a government-regulated job with the establishment of various unions. Classified usually as a dystopia, the novel actually includes other literary genres to aid its mission. The most notable and unique would be its post-apocalyptic timeline and the use of a serious and believable allegory to accomplish his satire, rather than the more recognizable use of absurd yet hilarious overstatement, as is used in The Master and Margarita. His method is rather subtle and might not initially be recognized as satire without some knowledge of both the author and Russia at the time of the novel’s creation.
Zamyatin starts the book with D-503 excitedly explaining his current project, the INTEGRAL, and why exactly it and his records are so important. On page 3 for instance, D-503 quotes the newspaper’s morning announcement:
A thousand years ago your heroic forebears subjugated the whole of planet Earth to the power of OneState. It is for you to accomplish an even more glorious feat: by means of the glass, the electric, the fire-breathing INTEGRAL to integrate the indefinite equation of the universe. It is for you to place the beneficial yoke of reason round the...