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literature , twentieth (XIX) century , Evgenii Zamiatin , émigré , George Orwell , Aldous Huxley , icebreaker , Englishness
Home | Russians in Britain | "A Muscovite Englishman" - Zamiatin in Britain

"A Muscovite Englishman" - Zamiatin in Britain

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Abstract

Zamyatin 20s, photo from http://www.sclews.me.uk/zamyatin.html

There will be two main focuses to this paper. The first will be the way in which Evgenii Zamiatin’s works became known in Britain during his lifetime, and after his death in 1937. This will focus on awareness of his significance as a literary figure in Russian-speaking émigré circles during the 1920s and 1930s, and the channels, which were used to promote his reputation. I propose also to revisit the question of the impact of Zamiatin’s novel we on figures such as George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. I will conclude with a consideration of the ‘reverse side of the coin’, in other words his perceived ‘Englishness’ as far as Russians were concerned. This will involve a new evaluation of the time Zamiatin spent in Newcastle supervising the construction of icebreakers in 1916-17, and the connotations his supposed ‘Englishness’ held for Soviet Russians during the 1920s.

Paper given at the Fifth Fitzwilliam Colloquium in Russian Studies "British Perception and Reception of Russian Culture, 18th-20th Centuries", Cambridge, 2012.