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Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

Darkness at Noon (1940)

by Arthur Koestler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Koestler's Trilogy (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,982681,790 (4.03)164
  1. 80
    1984 by George Orwell (ivan.frade)
    ivan.frade: Both books talk about revolution and the people, individual rights vs. common wellness. "darkness at noon" is pretty similar to 1984, without the especulation/science-fiction ingredient.
  2. 40
    Animal Farm by George Orwell (chrisharpe)
  3. 30
    Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell (br77rino)
    br77rino: Much of Orwell's impetus for writing "1984" came from his experience in the Spanish Civil War, which he writes about in this.
  4. 30
    Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman (chrisharpe)
  5. 41
    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (chrisharpe)
  6. 20
    A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891-1924 by Orlando Figes (GabrielF)
    GabrielF: Written in 1940, Darkness at Noon really takes you into the minds of the revolutionary generation during Stalin's purges. A People's Tragedy is a very readable, thorough and fascinating history of the revolution.
  7. 20
    The Anti-Communist Manifestos: Four Books That Shaped the Cold War by John V. Fleming (prosfilaes)
    prosfilaes: Fleming describes the context of Koestler's book, including how it compared, was affected by and affected other anti-Communist books.
  8. 31
    The Trial by Franz Kafka (chrisharpe)
  9. 10
    Dialogue With Death by Arthur Koestler (longway)
  10. 00
    Gece Yarisinda Aydinlik by Erica Glaser Wallach (bertilak)
  11. 01
    Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada (chrisharpe)
  12. 12
    The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge (thatguyzero)
  13. 03
    We the Living by Ayn Rand (br77rino)

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» See also 164 mentions

English (61)  Dutch (4)  French (2)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (68)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
Darkness at Noon (from the German: Sonnenfinsternis) is a novel by the Hungarian-born British novelist Arthur Koestler, first published in 1940. His best-known work tells the tale of Rubashov, a Bolshevik 1917 revolutionary who is cast out, imprisoned and tried for treason by the Soviet government he'd helped create.

Darkness at Noon stands as an unequaled fictional portrayal of the nightmare politics of our time. Its hero is an aging revolutionary, imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the Party to which he has dedicated his life. As the pressure to confess preposterous crimes increases, he relives 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, it 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."
  JESGalway | Sep 10, 2018 |
For forty years, the revolutionary Rubashov had worked to advance the cause of the Party, but now he is imprisoned on false charges and forced to confess to crimes against the State. He's tired of playing the State's "game" and resolves to stand firm, but when his "Neanderthaler" inquisitor Gletkin subjects to physical torture in the forms of sleep deprivation and glaring lights, his resolve is sorely tested. Rubashov's mental state is also disturbed by memories of the people in his past, including his mistress, whom he betrayed into the hands of the State.

This brief political novel, which is obviously about the Soviet Union even though that country is never named, is a quick read, but packs a punch. Recommended. ( )
  akblanchard | Jun 28, 2018 |
In the middle of our read-a-thon, I decided to pull a book from the bookslut 100 list. I ended up pulling Darkness at Noon, even though I knew hardly anything about it.

As a fan of science fiction, I have read dozens of books where the big bad was a totalitarian government that prosecutes people for thoughtcrimes and says things like "It is better to execute 10 innocent people than to let one guilty person go free." These organizations are horrible, clearly, but lost a little bit of their scariness for me as they seemed too unbelievable. How could anyone really believe such a horrible thing? And how could an entire government run on that principle?

Well, this book has changed all that forever. In Darkness, Rubashov, a former party leader and war hero, is imprisoned for treason. During his imprisonment, he thinks back to a past imprisonment, engages in secretive conversations with other prisoners (his wing is all solitary confinement), and is interrogated by two men, one of whom he has a history with. As they try to convince him to plead guilty to several counts of treason, there is a lot of discussion of the philosophy of such a government. Not only did this book thoroughly convince me that such governments have and do exist, but even more horrifyingly, I started to understand how people could talk themselves and others into such behaviors.

This book was so good, I was kind of in awe of it the entire time I was reading it. Definitely worthy of its place on the bookslut 100. ( )
1 vote greeniezona | Dec 6, 2017 |
A superlative novel by Koestler that envisages the Stalinist purges so well, at a time that presumably meant that Koestler had to watch his back for any ice pick wielding figures.

Once a leading Bolshevik, Rubashov now sits in a prison cell, pressured to confess to imaginary crimes which would Stalin the pretence to have him executed. In between, he muses on the journey to get to this point and how the revolution had been subverted by Stalin.

Of most interest to me though was the references to the revolution not being run to the laws of cricket; I presume this reference wasn't in the original German version (especially as darkness at noon precludes cricket being played anyway) so I can only wonder about the translator who managed to slip a reference to the grand old game into a book about the Stalinist purges. ( )
1 vote MiaCulpa | Jul 11, 2017 |
Former high party official Nicholas Rubashov (a fictional character) is arrested during Stalin's great purges. Once praised and esteemed, he is now treated as a counter-revolutionary and traitor. We follow his life in prison, as he is pressured toward confession during long sessions with his former friend and colleague Ivanov. As he reflects back on his life as one of the leaders of the Russian revolution, he contemplates where it, and he, have gone wrong, as the regime has become one willing to enforce its belief by any means available, and where the end justifies the means. We know from the beginning that this time Rubashov won't get out alive.

I thought I had read this book as a teenager, but as I read it this time, I had absolutely no recollection of it, so maybe I didn't. It is a book of ideas, and frequently moves rather slowly. Perhaps I've read this after reading too many other excellent books on the Stalin years, including Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov, various works by Solzhenitsen, The Whisperers by Orlando Figes, and Simon Montefiore's biographies of Stalin. In particular, I found The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge, a novel involving a party official arrested on false premises and forced to confess a much more compelling novel. I can see what an excellent book Darkness at Noon is, but it didn't touch or startle me as much as some of these other books, or as much as I expected.

3 stars ( )
6 vote arubabookwoman | May 25, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Koestler, Arthurprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hardy, DaphneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walter, Hans-AlbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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He who establishes a dictatorship and does not kill Brutus, or he who founds a republic and does not kill the sons of Brutus, will only reign a short time.
Machiavelli, Discorsi

Man, man, one cannot live without pity.
Dostoyevsky, Crime and punishment
The characters in this book are fictitious.  The historical circumstances which determined their actions are real.  The life of the man N.S. Rubashov is a synthesis of the lives of a number of men who were victims of the so-called Moscow Trials.  Several of them were personally known to the author.  This book is dedicated to their memory. - Paris, October 1938 - April, 1940
First words
The cell door slammed behind Rubashov.
How can one change the world if one identifies oneself with everybody?
How else can one change it?
He who understands and forgives - where would he find a motive to act?
Where would he not?
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The story of an aging revolutionary, imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the Party to which he has dedicated his life. As the pressure to confess preposterous crimes increases, he re-lives a career that embodies the terrible ironies and human betrayals of a totalitarian movement masking itself as an instrument of deliverance.… (more)

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