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Darkness at Noon (Penguin Modern Classics) (original 1940; edition 1973)

by Arthur Koestler

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3,705651,414 (4.02)156
Member:DuneSherban
Title:Darkness at Noon (Penguin Modern Classics)
Authors:Arthur Koestler
Info:Penguin Books in association w/ Jonathan Cape (1973), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:European literature

Work details

Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (1940)

  1. 70
    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. 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.
  6. 31
    The Trial by Franz Kafka (chrisharpe)
  7. 31
    One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (chrisharpe)
  8. 10
    Dialogue With Death by Arthur Koestler (longway)
  9. 10
    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.
  10. 00
    Gece Yarisinda Aydinlik by Erica 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 156 mentions

English (58)  Dutch (4)  French (2)  Hebrew (1)  All (65)
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  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 |
Political intrigue laid bare from the standpoint of a former Communist apparatchik. Betrayed by the party he had helped remain dominant, the protagonist - Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov - is in prison as he reflects on his party's duplicity.

Darkness at Noon is an allegory set in the putative USSR (the country is not named in the novel) during the 1938 purges. During this period Stalin consolidated his dictatorship by ruthlessly eliminating rivals within the Communist Party, the military, and professions. These details are omitted from the book. Instead we are treated to an insider's musings on the trajectory of dictatorship.

One of my favorite subtle scenes involves a mysterious black tanker that Rubashov recalls arriving in port before his internment. The ship is being loaded with oil bound for an enemy country. To Rubishov, this transaction, treasonous and capitalistic in the extreme, embodies the inherent hypocrisy of his regime. Ideology be damned: when there are rubles to be earned, it is full steam ahead.

Koestler avoids histrionic descriptions. Rubashov almost casually describes the monstrosity of his erstwhile party. I found that this approach drew me in further. I liked the protagonist. He seemed to be an overall decent, intelligent person caught up in a growing tide of authoritarianism. Too bad for him that he was ultimately deemed purge-worthy.

For those who enjoy political history served as literature, Darkness At Noon fills this niche well.

( )
2 vote MarkDSwartz | Apr 11, 2017 |
Not a happy book, but so fascinating. Similar to 1984 but only in superficial ways. Koestler focuses on chains of logic which can lead to the belief that horrible means might be justified if you assume beautiful ends. Its not even so much that the characters have to be absolved of their sins, the bad deeds aren't even bad, if you are assuming that they are necessary for the "greater good." ( )
1 vote PaulGodfread | Sep 23, 2016 |
Not a happy book, but so fascinating. Similar to 1984 but only in superficial ways. Koestler focuses on chains of logic which can lead to the belief that horrible means might be justified if you assume beautiful ends. Its not even so much that the characters have to be absolved of their sins, the bad deeds aren't even bad, if you are assuming that they are necessary for the "greater good." ( )
  PaulGodfread | Sep 23, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Koestler, Arthurprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hardy, DaphneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walter, Hans-AlbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
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
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 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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