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Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
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Darkness at Noon (1940)

by Arthur Koestler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Koestler's Trilogy (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,249721,778 (4.05)176
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)
  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. 04
    We the Living by Ayn Rand (br77rino)
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» See also 176 mentions

English (64)  Dutch (4)  French (3)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (72)
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
This is a new translation from the recently discovered German manuscript that had been lost for over seventy years. I had read the original years ago and can't comment much on how this new translation really differs from the original, but I will say that it is chilling book and a must read for anyone concerned about totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, be they right or left. Either one seeks to crush the independent spirit of liberty and freedom. I was inspired to re-read this after finishing the second volume of Kotkin's Stalin biography. ( )
  gregdehler | Dec 9, 2019 |
A good and sometimes compelling read and somewhat reminiscent of Orwell's "1984," which, I have just come to learn, was inspired by "Darkness at Noon" and that Orwell and Koestler knew each other. Explains a lot. Winston Smith is Koestler's Rubashov and Gletkin is Koestler's prototype for Orwell's O'Brian who both foreshadowed today's "honorable" Robert Mueller and James Comey, party men willing to do whatever’s necessary for the state, truth be damned! Given the prescience of the novels"1984," "Darkness at Noon," and Huxley's "Brave New World," you could almost make a case for the authors having time-traveled and returned to give warning that has, for the most part, gone unheeded. 3.5 stars. ( )
  Renzomalo | Jan 8, 2019 |
Crushing of human spirit is at the center of this book, but is it achieved simply by Stalin's paranoia, resulting in horrific deeds and silencing many innocent lives, or by something more on a philosophical level? This is one of the burning questions that Rubashov is tormented with while he is walking up and down his tiny prison cell, as well as during conversations with his first interrogator; we also see parts of Rubashov's diary. (As we learn, Rubashov is a synthesis of numerous victims of Stalin's purges in 1930s, and the author knew many of them).

Basically, the whole story is set between the prison cell and interrogation room (with some reminiscences from Rubashov's past as an important member of Central Committee being assigned to travel abroad to stir up and establish Communist movements), and under other circumstances, it might not seem sufficient for a plot. But here, one is glued to the book, as Rubashov, even though it's not his first arrest, tries, in his mind, frantically, to find answers or justifications to whatever is going on in the country; WHY/HOW the purest of ideas turned into something so horrible under Stalin's watch: "All our principles were right but our results were wrong. This is a diseased century. We diagnosed the disease and its causes with microscopic exactness.... Our will was hard and pure, we should have been loved by the people. But they hate us..."

Russia/U.S.S.R is never mentioned (in his foreign comrades' minds it's called "over there" with reverence), Stalin is dubbed "No. 1", Lenin - "the old man", Communist Party is just "Party". And interestingly enough, at the beginning of the book Rubashov identifies Party as "we" ("We brought you truth, but in our mouth it sounded a lie. We brought you freedom, and it looks in our hand like a whip" - throughout the book Koestler is very powerful with his metaphors...), while later on in his thought process he separates himself from the Party, or at least from what became of it - after most of old-timers, his fellow comrades with bright ideas had been liquidated.

His two interrogators (though using totally different approaches) represent brainwashing at its ugliest. It makes one's skin crawl. Logic (or at least normal human logic) has no place here. Manipulation of prisoners' minds - now that's another story... Arguing is futile. Through his cell walls, and later on his short walks in the yard Rubashov gets to know his co-prisoners - some, by this time, deranged with the idea of revolution, some resigned, some not even understanding why they are there, some resisting, but not for long...

I have read a number of accounts (both non-fiction, and fiction - based on facts) about this dark era of Russian history, and yet this is the first time that I encounter such philosophical dissection of ideas in the mind of a political prisoner, such psychologically influenced ruminations. This book will stay with me for a while... I think the validity of this topic can never be lost. ( )
1 vote Clara53 | Nov 7, 2018 |
The Moscow purges and show trials of the mid 1930s through the 40s has always seemed baffling to Westerners. Why would such luminaries of the Communist Party and stalwart defenders of the Russian Revolution confess publicly to counter-revolutionary crimes against the State which were so obviously false to the point of utter inanity. Solzhenitsyn in his GULAG Archipelago analizes the techniques used to illicit false confessions from people under the Soviet system, but "Darkness at Noon" takes a more literary and forceful approach.

His main character, an operative and fervent believer in the Party, is arrested for being a traitor to the Party. His interrogator is an old comrade of his. Through their conversations/interrogations we learn of the protagonist's history with the Party, his work, his defense of the methods used, his slow dissatisfaction with the results of their work, and his understanding of the role he must play. Koestler, himself, was a Communist and Believer, and his unveiling of this psychology rings true and convincing--and terrifying. ( )
  Marse | Oct 27, 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. ( )
1 vote akblanchard | Jun 28, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Koestler, Arthurprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boehm, PhilipTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hardy, DaphneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scammell, MichaelIntroductionsecondary 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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