Darkness at Noon

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Overview

Arthur Koestler’s timeless classic, Darkness at Noon, first published in 1941, is a powerful and haunting portrait of a Soviet revolutionary who is imprisoned and tortured under Stalin’s rule.

Of all of Arthur Koestler’s works, none demonstrates more vividly his narrative power and uncompromising clarity of vision than this seminal work of twentieth century literature. “Darkness at Noon is the sort of novel that transcends ordinary limitations…written with such dramatic power, ...

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Darkness at Noon: A Novel

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Overview

Arthur Koestler’s timeless classic, Darkness at Noon, first published in 1941, is a powerful and haunting portrait of a Soviet revolutionary who is imprisoned and tortured under Stalin’s rule.

Of all of Arthur Koestler’s works, none demonstrates more vividly his narrative power and uncompromising clarity of vision than this seminal work of twentieth century literature. “Darkness at Noon is the sort of novel that transcends ordinary limitations…written with such dramatic power, with such warmth of feeling, and with such persuasive simplicity” (The New York Times, 1941).

Set during Stalin’s Moscow show trials of the 1930s, Darkness at Noon is an unforgettable portrait of an aging revolutionary, Nicholas Rubashov, who is imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the very Party to which he has dedicated his life. As the pressure increases to confess to committing preposterous crimes, he re-lives a career that embodies the terrible ironies and human betrayals of a totalitarian movement masking itself as an instrument of deliverance. Almost unbearably vivid in its depiction of one man’s solitary agony, Darkness at Noon asks questions about ends and means that have relevance not only for the past, but for the perilous present. It is, as the Times Literary Supplement has declared, “A remarkable book, a grimly fascinating interpretation of the logic of the Russian Revolution, indeed of all revolutionary dictatorships, and at the same time a tense and subtly intellectualized drama.”

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Editorial Reviews

The Wall Street Journal
"Among the first former communists to expose the horror lurking behind the ideology's promise of utopia was the Hungarian-born British journalist Arthur Koestler. His Darkness at Noon (1941) is perhaps the greatest anticommunist novel of all time: at once a warning about the nature of the Soviet regime, issued at a time when few in the West wanted to hear it, and a grand novel of ideas in the tradition of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Thomas Mann."
New Statesman (UK)
"One of the few books written in this epoch which will survive it."
The New York Times Book Review
"It is the sort of novel that transcends ordinary limitations. Written with such dramatic power, with such warmth of feeling, and with such persuasive simplicity that it is as absorbing as melodrama."
New York Herald Tribune
"A rare and beautifully executed novel."
The Times Literary Supplement (London)
"A remarkable book. A grimly fascinating interpretation of the logic of the Russian revolution, indeed of all revolutionary dictatorships, and at the same time a tense and subtly intellectualized drama."
Harold Strauss
It is the sort of novel that transcends ordinary limitations, and that may be read as a primary discourse in political philosophy. It is a far cry from the bleak topical commmentaries that sometimes pass as novels. The magic effect of Darkness at Noon is its magnificant tragic irony.-- Books of the Century; New York Times review, May 1941
Times Literary Supplement
A remarkable book, a grimly fascinating interpretation of the logic of the Russian Revolution, indeed of all revolutionary dictatorships, and at the same time a tense and subtly intellectualized drama.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781476785554
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 1/27/2015
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 283,498
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Born in Budapest in 1905, educated in Vienna, Arthur Koestler immersed himself in the major ideological and social conflicts of his time. A communist during the 1930s, and visitor for a time in the Soviet Union, he became disillusioned with the Party and left it in 1938. Later that year in Spain, he was captured by the Fascist forces under Franco, and sentenced to death. Released through the last-minute intervention of the British government, he went to France where, the following year, he again was arrested for his political views. Released in 1940, he went to England, where he made his home. His novels, reportage, autobiographical works, and political and cultural writings established him as an important commentator on the dilemmas of the 20th century. He died in 1983.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 24 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Reality has always been hard on committed Collectivists, whether

    Reality has always been hard on committed Collectivists, whether they call themselves Communists or Nazis or Progressives.  
    Their grand promises of a "Peoples' Paradise" have always ended in totalitarian nightmares or failure and disgrace.  Koestler saw Soviet
    Communism from the inside and described what it did to the non-existent individuals and even the former leaders of the "Revolution."  
    Painful stuff for the blind ideologues who chose to write reviews below about that which they cannot allow themselves to accept for what
    it was.  Soviet and Chinese Communists murdered tens of millions of their own people in the name of their own people.  Koestler's
    novel is compelling and frightening for Americans...a warning about what cannot be permitted to happen in our nation.   

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2001

    Koestler's Philosophy

    Koestler's Philosophy In a tale of a disillusioned communist, Koestler tells his abstract and sometimes outrageous thoughts and answers to questions about human nature. Set primarily in a prison, this novel focuses on the life of Rubashov, a controversial political figure thrown in jail for crimes he didn't commit. While imprisoned, Rubashov reflects on his life and what he has stood for. He begins to question his beliefs. By reflecting many of his beliefs through his characters, we are allowed a glimpse into the mind of Koestler, who himself became disillusioned with the Party. Though simply written, this entertaining novel offers a look at Koestler's life and some historical background on the party. Fueled by Koestler's own philosophical insights, the novel tells an interesting tale about the communist Soviet Union.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 11, 2011

    Amazing

    I read this book for my Book Club (we're currently reading down the list of the Modern Library's Top 100 Best Novels - Board Picks). It was a bit tough to get into, but when Rubashov starts struggling with the emergence of his "grammatical fiction" (sense of individualism) I couldn't put the book down. What a great book about the big questions man has been struggling with for ages!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2013

    the story makes the reader feel compelled to intellectually anal

    the story makes the reader feel compelled to intellectually analyze every word

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2011

    "Sensational!"

    I heard of this book through a magazine article written in W.Q. - In the Footsteps of Giants, an interview with Michael Scammell.

    In the interview, Scammell tells about the author of this book - Darkness at Noon. It was completely in-lighting, and tells much of the history behind his novel.
    For anyone who is interested in communism, anti-totalitarian, and German History, This is quite a good find.

    K.E.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2011

    AP world history review: great book for learning purposes

    I think this book really demonstrates what it is like living during these time periods. You have the communist parties and unions and conflicts with each. No matter if you are a journalist or merchant you get involved with one of these groups you are bound for some sort of conflict. Rubashov was just an ordinary man who didn't want trouble and eventually ran into it and was on death sentence. This initially shows that if you are in the wrong place during this time you need to watch your back. This also gave me the impression of friendship since Daphne Hardy published the book for Koestler. On the other hand it shows how the things you do in life stick with you. Rubashov was in solitary prisons cells and continually had flashbacks of his previous foreign missions he had done that led him to that cell. He shared stories with the other cell men. Rubashov didn't have an easy life being on death sentence but he had friends along the way, including his "lady friend." Overall, this book taught a lot about communism and being apart of a communist party, and the "number one" and the USSR. It was very informational and helped a lot during our Russian unit.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 30, 2010

    Best Novel I have ever read

    Stunning in the way it captures the essence of the perversion of the Russian revolution and the horror of its after math. Well written remarkable book. I read it in college and consider it my all time favorite and yet listening to it on audio CD was even more insightful.

    If you really want insight read it fist followed by Child 44.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2004

    Koestler's book is a shoddy piece of CIA propaganda

    A caricature wrapped in a parody wrapped in a novelette. This trashy novel is just a piece of Cold War propaganda. It presents a ludicrous caricature of history, a simple-minded moralism. Koestler claims that all communists are all bad because they believe that 'The ends justify the means'. But doesn't George Bush believe this? Doesn't Blair? Don't you sometimes? It all depends on the circumstances, and no simple dogma will do the job - you actually have to think beneath the idiot slogans. It's no surprise that General Franco at the end of the war freed Koestler from his jails, when he killed without trial so many decent Republicans and their supporters. Franco could see that Koestler was going to be more use to him alive than dead, and this book indeed proves that Koestler was an asset to the forces of reaction. Remember that Koestler composed this anti-communist screed when the communists of the Soviet Union were defeating 70% of Hitler's divisions, and that these same communists were saving us all from Hitler's extermination camps.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 8, 2011

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    Posted October 29, 2011

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    Posted March 3, 2011

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    Posted December 10, 2010

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    Posted October 28, 2008

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    Posted March 22, 2013

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