Autism in Zamiatin's We Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractDeficits in intersubjective interpretation are frequently observed in We. The Single State, a purported utopia, turns out to be predicated on notions of human nature more consistent with Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism. D-503 and his fellow numbers exhibit such symptoms as inappropriate social responses, solipsism, lack of eye contact, repetitive behaviors, and lack of empathy. The text generally retraces steps in development of Theory of Mind, albeit the narrator usually lags behind the reader in grasping the intentions of other charactersseen here as the core function of fiction. Zamiatin thus imparts a sense of what normal consciousness should be, a subjectivity incompatible with social engineering. Faults may be discerned in Zamiatin's understanding of autism, a malady described only decades later. Nevertheless, We constitutes an unusual demonstration of how literary innovation may anticipate clinical science and, indeed, contribute to ongoing gene-cultural co-evolution by expanding our awareness of our psychological potential.

published proceedings

  • Canadian-American Slavic Studies

author list (cited authors)

  • Cooke, B.

citation count

  • 0

publication date

  • January 2011