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Darkness at Noon ()

Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (8)

This one is deservedly Top 10 (although it is a translation from the German).  It is the story of Rubashov, an aging revolutionary in an unnamed Revolutionary State (obviously the Soviet Union).  He is arrested & repeatedly interrogated, until he finally admits to a series of crimes against the State, which it is obvious to us and to his interrogators that he could not possibly have committed.

Koestler, a former Communist, examines how dedicated Communists were brought to the point where they confessed ridiculous crimes in Stalin's Show Trials of the 1930's.  In so doing, he also demonstrates that once you convince youself that the ends justify the means, you should not be surprised when those means are turned against you.


Grade: (A+)


Arthur Koestler Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Arthur Koestler
    -ESSAY: We the Screamers: The Nightmare That Is a Reality (Arthur Koestler, January 9, 1944)
    -ESSAY: The Spy Who Found His Conscience: Authors Le Carré and Koestler saw through the moral justifications of 20th-century communism. They understood that tallying up lives saved and lost is a bad way to do business, particularly when the “lives saved” column is skewed by those in power. (Will Collins, 1/20/23, European Conservative)

Book-related and General Links:
-Arthur Koestler Project
    -REVIEW: of Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind by David Cesarani The 'Casanova of Causes'  (JOHN LEONARD, The Nation)
    -REVIEW: of ARTHUR KOESTLER The Homeless Mind By David Cesarani Arthur Koestler, the West's Most Famous Anti-Communist Intellectual (Thomas W. Simons Jr., SF Gate)
    -REVIEW: of  ARTHUR KOESTLER The Homeless Mind; By David Cesarani Like a Rolling Stone (JOHN LUKACS, LA Times)
    -REVIEW: of STRANGER ON THE SQUARE By Arthur and Cynthia Koestler. Edited and introduced by Harold Harris (Hilton Kramer, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of ARTHUR KOESTLER: The Homeless Mind, by David Cesarani. (Jacob Heilbrunn, Wilson Quarterly)

If you liked Darkness at Noon, try:

Chambers, Whittaker
    -Witness (Read Orrin's review; Grade : A+)

Clavell, James
    -The Children's Story

Min, Anchee
    -Red Azalea

Orwell, George
    -Homage to Catalonia
    -Animal Farm

Pipes, Richard
    -The Russian Revolution

Seymour, Gerald

Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr
    -One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
    -The Gulag Archipelago


Koestler may have treated women poorly but this book has nothing to do with that. This is a great book that details quite subtly the shifts in the main character's brain and shows his past affiliation with communism until the point where he is perhaps believing the lies he confesses to the Soviet state--perhaps duped by his long history with them into believing that what he is doing is for the greater good.

A spectacular book

- Horoscho

- Jan-24-2007, 10:50


I also found this book to be quite good. Especially captivating is the historical theory proposed by the author of history being like a canal with the masses having different aptitudes depending where in a lock history has brought them.

- Bry

- Sep-02-2006, 18:30


Didn't say Koestler was a good guy or Faulkner a bad one. This is a good book, sound and the fury unreadable.

Solzhenitsyn isn't an anti-Semite.

- oj

- Aug-06-2004, 16:57


Funny how you cite Faulkner as a schizo because you don't like his books, but you leave out Koestler's despicable life. Koestler treated the women in his life very, very poorly and was a date rapist. Terrible. But because you agree with the message of his book, you don't mention his personal failings (much worse than Faulkner's relatively benign alcoholism). You attack various author's for being liberals or leftists, meanwhile ignoring Koestler's leftist views. He was a strong supporter of abortion and abolishing the death penalty.

That aside, this is one of the reviews I agree with you on. This is my second favorite novel of all time and it had a huge impact on my political thinking, especially towards revolution and violent conflict.

(And please, remove your recommendation of Solzhenitsyn from your review. Solzhenitsyn was an anti-Semite, Koestler a man who took great pride in his Jewishness. I don't think Koestler would approve.)

- kristofer

- Aug-06-2004, 15:09


Perhaps you should remove the link to Kreeft's essay? He doesn't even mention Koestler: "Darkness at Noon" is his metaphor for an entirely different subject.

- John Bingham

- Mar-03-2004, 08:19