Following paragraph is from the novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin:

Antagonised by Zamyatin's insistence on telling the truth as he saw it, by his open disdain for anything that smacked of literary servility.

I know servility means a willingness to serve. But in the above paragraph, it appears that "literary servility" has been used as something bad.

So, what is the meaning of literary servility in the above paragraph?

  • What is the source of the sentence? I think it should be "...anything that smacked of literary servility".
    – CinCout
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 4:50
  • @CinCout You are right. Corrected.
    – user76377
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 4:53

1 Answer 1


Literary means connected with literature. Servility, as you rightly mentioned, is the eagerness to serve and please someone, which in itself portrays negativity.

Hence, the phrase literary servility, refers to producing literature which is too eager to serve (in this case, serve the establishment or the ruling party).

Conclusively, Zamyatin didn't respect such works of literature which praised the establishment without criticizing them.

  • 1
    Servility is not just willingness/eagerness to serve, but over-eagerness to do so. It has a negative connotation even by itself.
    – Katy
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 5:11
  • @Katy nice catch. Answer edited.
    – CinCout
    Commented Apr 10, 2019 at 5:12

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