Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind

Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind

by David Cesarani, David Cesarini
     
 

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Arthur Koestler, best known for his world-famous novel Darkness at Noon, stands as a cultural beacon in the post-1945 world. Along with Sartre, Camus and Orwell, he helped to shape the ideas of today. This major reassessment, based on groundbreaking and comprehensive research, sets Koestler's life and thoughts against the tumultuous century he chronicled and…  See more details below

Overview

Arthur Koestler, best known for his world-famous novel Darkness at Noon, stands as a cultural beacon in the post-1945 world. Along with Sartre, Camus and Orwell, he helped to shape the ideas of today. This major reassessment, based on groundbreaking and comprehensive research, sets Koestler's life and thoughts against the tumultuous century he chronicled and explores fully for the first time the continuing drama of his private life as a lover, a husband and a Jew.

David Cesarani paints an explosive portrait of Koestler that bridges the gulf separating public and private life, contrasting the work of a genius against the backdrop of his tormented soul and brutal private life. In England, Cesarani's revelations led to the removal of Koestler's bust at the University of Edinburgh, so strong were the feelings roused by his dissection of Koestler as a thinker and as a man.

A central European Jew born in 1905, Koestler was molded by his times. Uprooted by war and revolution and hounded by prejudice, he struggled to make sense of a world on the edge of apocalypse. His search for meaning, identity and belonging swept him up in the raging ideological torrents of his times -- Zionism, Communism, anti-Communism and both hard scientific and esoteric mystical pursuits -- and culminated in an idiosyncratic and deeply personal ideological position that has confused and eluded critics and commentators.

Equally restless in his personal relationships, Koestler made and broke friendships and marriages. His violent affairs with women were legendary, but until now the shocking details of his private life were hidden from view by loyal friends and obscured by the Olympian prose of hisautobiographical writing. Cesarani is the first to make unrestricted use of Koestler's private papers. He also draws on previously secret documents held by the KGB and the FBI, which expose the depth of Koestler's involvement in the Communist Party and, later, his relations with the CIA.

Once a Communist, Koestler eventually rejected Marxism and led the intellectual counterattack that culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall. His speculations on human nature and the future of mankind in the atomic age were stamped upon a generation that lived in the shadow of the bomb. But alongside his brilliance and charm was a darker side, fully plumbed here for the first time, which led ultimately to the tragic dual suicide with his third wife, Cynthia, in 1983.

With Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind David Cesarani has ensured Koestler's place in the pantheon of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century as surely as his forceful, provocative and groundbreaking study is guaranteed to reignite the controversy that swirled around Koestler in his life and his death, in his work and his actions.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Correcting historians' omission of Koestler's (1905-1983) role in communism's fall, British historian Cesarani places the author of Darkness at Noon in the front ranks of Cold Warriors. In addition, he deals with not only Koestler's later interest in science (and the paranormal), but also his contradictory and profoundly flawed character. While Koestler mythologized himself in his multivolume autobiography, and muzzled his official biographer in 1982, Cesarani has had the benefit of Koestler's complete literary estate, his FBI files and the KGB's notorious "Special Archive" to detail the writer's political and intellectual wanderings. Cesarani charts Koestler's political odyssey from his early involvement with Zionism in Palestine in the 1920s through his membership in the Communist Party in Nazi Berlin and Civil War Spain to his denunciation of Stalinism in England during WWII. During his Cold War notoriety, however, the writer was embarking on a new course into biology and physics, and on a search for a rational philosophy to replace Marxism. Whatever Koestler's shifting intellectual creeds, Cesarani underscores his Jewish identity, which Koestler consistently underplayed yet could not ignore. In more disturbing revelations, besides Koestler's lifelong womanizing and three marriages (the last ended in dual suicide), Cesarani uncovers the details of one sexual assault and concludes that Koestler was a "serial rapist." In chronicling Koestler's remarkable political journey, public resolution and private wrongs, Cesarani's biography manages to be both authoritative and ambivalent. (Dec.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
The New Yorker
The author of this thorough life quite properly reminds us that Koestler—from the publication of his novel about the Moscow trials Darkness at Noon in 1940, until his suicide, in 1983—was a powerful intellectual force, a prolific writer, and a tireless activist.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684867205
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
11/02/1999
Edition description:
1st U.S. Edition
Pages:
656
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.38(d)

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