Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind

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...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (34) from $1.99   
  • New (6) from $10.98   
  • Used (28) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$10.98
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:

(122)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
New New condition. Free track! Fast shipping! Satisfication guaranteed!

Ships from: Media, PA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$13.95
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(4)

Condition: New
New York, NY 1999 Hard cover First edition. Free Press ed. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 656 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: ... General/trade. Y-50-B Read more Show Less

Ships from: BOSTON, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$18.00
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(18)

Condition: New
Old Tappan, New Jersey, U.S.A. 1999 Hard Cover First Edition New in New jacket New First Ed. hardback. New pictorial DJ. Slight shelfwear on DJ. Remainder mark. Half binding, ... cream boards with black spine. Silver printing on spine. Slight bumping on bottom spine edge. Clean and tight book. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Gardiner, OR

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$35.40
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:

(364)

Condition: New
Brand New Item.

Ships from: Chatham, NJ

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$58.77
Seller since 2008

Feedback rating:

(214)

Condition: New

Ships from: Chicago, IL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
$100.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(18)

Condition: New
New Gift Quality Book in Excellent Condition. -Fast Shipping.

Ships from: Newton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

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.

Read More Show Less

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.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684867205
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 11/2/1999
  • Edition description: 1st U.S. Edition
  • Pages: 656
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.38 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction In Search of Arthur Koestler

Chapter 1 'A good Jewish child', 1905-22
Chapter 2 Zionism and Palestine, 1922-9
Chapter 3 Towards the 'New Promised Land', 1929-33
Chapter 4 Retreat from Communism, 1933-8
Chapter 5 War, 1938-42
Chapter 6 Holocaust, 1942-4
Chapter 7 Palestine, France and Science, 1945-7
Chapter 8 France, America and Israel, 1947-9
Chapter 9 Cold Warrior, 1949-52
Chapter 10 'My harem is beginning to wear me out', 1952-5
Chapter 11 Hanging and Science, 1955-60
Chapter 12 The Alpbach Years, 1960-7
Chapter 13 'Reculer pour mieux sauter', 1967-76
Chapter 14 Illness and Exit, 1976-83

Conclusion The Homeless Mind

Works by Arthur Koestler
Notes and Sources
Select Bibliography
Index

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction: In Search of Arthur Koestler Arthur Koestler was a journalist of genius and an outstanding chronicler of his times. He wrote half a dozen novels, one a classic and several more of enduring value, two superb volumes of autobiography and dozens of elegantly phrased, stimulating and frequently memorable essays on a host of subjects. One cannot fail to stand in awe of his corpus of work, or the intellectual energy and sheer effort that went into it. Yet today he is not as well known as he should be and the time has surely come for a re-evaluation of this remarkable man and his extraordinary career.

The reasons for Koestler's eclipse are not hard to find. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the 'Eastern Bloc' and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, those who distinguished themselves on the field of combat during the Cold War have suffered a loss of standing. Ever shortening historical memory means that to those without personal experience of the East-West conflict these personalities lack substance or significance.

To appreciate the scale of Koestler's achievement and his colossal status in the 1950s, it is first necessary to recapture the sense of peril that ran through the Western democracies during the Cold War. Between 1945 and 1950 it was common to believe that the Red Army might roll through Western Europe right up to the English Channel, with or without the aid of internal subversion and insurrection by indigenous Communist parties owing their first loyalty to Moscow. Thanks to its influence among millions of organised workers and the prestige it amassed for its role in the defeat of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Communist doctrine had immense popularity and a vice-like grip over sections of the intelligentsia. It took courage for those whose natural place was on the left, or among intellectuals, to point out the iniquities of Communism and the appalling character of the Stalinist regime. It was even more difficult for those of the Pink Generation, the youth of the 1930s who had enrolled under the Red Banner in huge numbers and with great zeal, but who subsequently saw the flaws in Communist ideology and the threat posed by Soviet totalitarianism. This is precisely what Arthur Koestler did.

Koestler's novel of ideas, Darkness at Noon, published in Britain in 1940, was the first intellectual counter-attack to make any significant headway against Communism. During the Second World War, when the Soviet Union was an official, prized and much admired ally in the fight against Nazism, he published a series of essays mercilessly exposing the deformation of Communism and the repressive character of the Soviet system. These writings had a liberating effect on wavering Communists and doubting fellow travellers who had been perturbed by the actions of the USSR in the late 1930s, especially the mass purges in 1936-8 and the Nazi-Soviet pact in 1939. By the force of his arguments and his personal example, Koestler emancipated thousands of people from thraldom to Marx, Lenin and Stalin. He continued this ferocious counter-crusade into the post-war decade, culminating in his inspirational role in the great anti-Communist rally in embattled Berlin in 1950. All of his writing in this era, his five novels, two works of reportage and, above all, his two autobiographical volumes, are informed by a determined anti-Communism. They reached millions of people and, along with George Orwell's 1984, were probably more responsible for stemming the drift towards Communism than any other form of political education or anti-Soviet propaganda in the sphere of the democracies. The final rout of the Soviet imperium in 1989-90 began with the publication of Darkness at Noon.

This alone would be reason enough to re-evaluate Koestler's accomplishments. Yet to concentrate on this aspect of his thinking would eliminate half of his life. From 1955, Koestler devoted his manifold talents and huge energy to the study and popularisation of science. This had a paradoxical effect on his reputation. His formal renunciation of political activism and the publication of a stream of major works focused on scientific subjects during the later 1950s, the 1960s and 1970s lost much of the audience which had eagerly consumed his writing for its political message. Koestler never ceased to be concerned with the 'human predicament' and saw science as the most likely source of a new ethical system and the solution to the endemic problems of conflict in human society, but this was not always clear. So he lost old readers who were disappointed at the retirement of their anti-Communist champion and gained a new readership that was interested primarily in scientific issues.

In a succession of books Koestler probed the sources of creativity, the dynamics of scientific advance, the validity of neo-Darwinian approaches to evolution and theories of the mind. He waged a campaign against what he saw as desiccated, mechanistic and outdated scientific orthodoxies: materialism, behaviourism and reductionism. In the course of this counter-offensive he explored mind-altering drugs, para-science and parapsychology. His growing interest in the paranormal during the 1970s alienated many of those who admired his scientific writing and cast a pall of quirkiness over his entire body of work. His 'vocational change' from politics to science, followed by his defection from conventional science to para-science, lost him his second generation of readers.

His reputation was dealt a final blow by the circumstances of his death. From the mid-1970s he suffered ill-health. To pre-empt a lingering end he opted to take his own life. However, his perfectly healthy wife committed suicide with him, causing shock amongst their friends and giving rise to speculation that he had dragged her down. Within a few years the scandal of their double suicide and a series of posthumous autobiographical and biographical books further reduced his standing. They raked over his stormy personal relationships, exposing his violent treatment of his wives and girlfriends. It was revealed that his antipathy to fatherhood extended to procuring illegal abortions for his lovers. On the eve of the defeat of Communism one of its boldest enemies had been reduced to the level of a half-forgotten crank who was reviled as a philanderer and wife-beater when he was recalled at all.

Yet the trend of scientific and cultural thinking over the last decade provides a further reason for re-evaluating Koestler. At least some of the ideas that earned him a reputation for crankiness have now become more mainstream. Neo-Darwinism is facing severe criticism. There are serious philosophical attempts to ground ethics in biology. Mainstream scientists are even showing a greater interest in para-science. The public certainly is: a recent survey in Britain indicated that sixty per cent of people credit the existence of psychic powers; and television fiction based on the paranormal, such as The X-Files, has never been more popular.

Koestler anticipated many strands running through the culture of the 1960s and stumbled across some of the key features of globalisation. As an inveterate traveller and observer in the 1950s and 1960s, he investigated Eastern spirituality and toured the Pacific region. Thanks to these journeys he perceived the interpenetration of East and West, and the growing simultaneity of events in distinct hemispheres well before most other commentators. His grasp of the global predated the phenomenon of 'post-modernity', another intellectual shift which he may be said to have foreshadowed albeit in an inchoate and partial manner.

The 'post-modern experience' is typified by globalisation, deracination, migration, hybridity and distrust of 'grand theory' or the 'exhaustion of modernity'. Koestler's nomadic life-style, transition from one culture to another and his reinvention of himself through his autobiographical writings make his life a classic example of the post-modern odyssey. His intimate encounters with grand theories, notably in the form of Marxism and Fascism, left him with an abiding distrust of the great nineteenth-century narratives of progress, even if he could never fully emancipate himself from them.

The prominence of Jewish intellectuals in the formation of modern thought suggests a clue to the dynamic of Koestler's life and career. Jews, and those taking their inspiration from an interpretation of Judaism, rank high among the progenitors and popularisers of modern as well as post-modern cultural and social theory. They include Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin, Emmanuel Levinas, Theodor Adorno, George Steiner, Jacques Derrida and Zygmunt Bauman. By virtue of their ethnicity these thinkers experienced marginality and migration: they were obliged to grapple with questions of identity, contingency, inter-textuality and translation. Along with the intellectuals of post-colonialism they were the first to probe the extraterritorial sensibility, deterritorialised identities and the dynamics of Diaspora. Thanks to their vulnerability as members of a historically persecuted minority they were extra-sensitive to currents of modern politics. It should therefore be no surprise that Koestler explored much the same ground, albeit less systematically and to different ends.

In his autobiographical writing Koestler projected himself as a 'typical case history'. Typical, that is, of the generation of young, educated, middle-class Central Europeans born in the decade before the First World War who saw the security of their parents' lives swept away by war, revolution and economic chaos, who were then forced to wander Europe as migrants or refugees, enticed by or caught between Communism and Fascism. Most of those who have been drawn to study his life and work have taken this, his own carefully constructed narrative, at face value. Yet Koestler was anything but typical.

Koestler was a Jew who exemplified the Jewish experience in Europe during the twentieth century. This is reflected in his involvement in the Zionist movement, his activity during the Holocaust, and his writings on Jews and the 'Jewish Question'. It might be seen as reductive to insist that Koestler cannot be understood except as a Jew and there are certainly perils in such an approach. In 1949-50, Koestler himself 'renounced' his Jewishness and consistently played it down thereafter. However, he thought holistically, believed that everything was interconnected and that the whole could be illuminated by throwing a beam of light on any one part. So by his own devices his Jewishness cannot be sundered from the rest of him and vice versa. Jewishness was in fact a key to his personality and his life story. Yet this fundamental part of his make-up has been badly neglected in previous biographical accounts which have taken their cue from his own, doctored version of his life story.

Ethnicity cannot easily be divorced from personality either. Koestler confessed to an inferiority complex indeed, he jokingly bragged that his was bigger than most, which he blamed on the way he was raised by his parents and their domestic employees. Its expression and squalid effects are beyond dispute: his lack of self-worth dogged his relations with men and women. In a self-defeating pattern he sought out sexual encounters and relationships in order to prove his virility and his attractiveness. Low self-esteem left him vulnerable to the perils of success, too. Financial independence, thanks to the sales of Darkness at Noon, and the experience of becoming a celebrity turned him from a rather appealing if nervy young man, who was irritating only because he was eager to please, into an opinionated and quarrelsome bully.

This crippling deficit of self-regard may not be attributable solely to family background, which is where Koestler preferred to locate its origins. Koestler was equally much a victim of the way European society treated its Jewish citizens in the twentieth century. He was a Jew who was never given a chance to belong anywhere, a deracinated intellectual whose roots were treated with a kind of cultural weed-killer. His Jewish identity was that of a member of a stereotyped minority, alternately viewed with exaggerated respect or cosmic contempt. In the years during which he grew to maturity Jewishness was either a badge of contumely or a death warrant. Due as much to his ethnic as to his family background, his life was propelled and ruined by a never-ending quest for a satisfying identity and a home.

This book attempts to disentangle the real Koestler from the mythic version he created. It will reinstate at the centre of his life story the Jewishness of the milieu in which he grew up, the Jewish identity which he embraced in the form of Zionism, his effort to transcend religion and ethnicity via Communism, the reasons for the denial of his Jewishness in his autobiographical writings, and the curious 'return of the repressed' in all his later activities and even his intimate relationships. This search for Koestler parallels his search for belonging, a universal trope of our times -- a twentieth-century quest for the Holy Grail.

Copyright © 1998 by David Cesarani

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)