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Darkness at Noon Reissue Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
I came back to this book for two reasons. I had just finished reading Volkogonov's "Stalin" and "Trotsky" and Solzhenitzyn's Red Wheel (Volume I). Darknesss at Noon seemed to be the next appropriate book to pick up off the shelf.
I had also been reading about the remarks President Clinton made (alluded to by other reviewers) to Sid Blumenthal indicating that he felt "like the prisoner in Darkness at Noon."
It is, perhaps, either a sad testament to human nature, or an indicia of the power of great literature, that the story of the fate of one (fictional) man, Rubashov, can feel more compelling than the narrative description (in "Stalin" and "Trotsky") of the fate of millions.
Further, whereas Volkogonov's works go a long way towards explaining what happened and how it happened, Rubashov's self-crticial analysis, and his dialogues with Ivanov and then Gletkin go a long way towards explaining why the purges happened. It helps explain the mindset of those many, like Rubashov, who confessed their non-existent sins before their ineveitable demise. It also goes a long way to explaing why so many millions of people actively participated in the denunciations that accompanied the purges and show trials.
Clinton's comparison to Rubashov is rich with unintended irony. Perhaps Clinton, like me, had not read the book since high school, and felt that Rubashov was the purely innocent victim of a prosecutorial system run amok.Read more ›
Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) was a person that believed in the progress that Communism was supposed to bring, but that became disillusioned in the way in which that dream was being carried out in the URSS. He wrote many books that give expression to his feelings of disenchantment, but "Darkness at noon" is probably the most popular one.
Not overly long, and very easy to read, this book is the story of Rubashov, an old communist who took part in the revolution and who is very loyal to the "Cause". Strangely enough, he is accused of treason, and taken to jail, where he must face harsh interrogatories. While he is in jail, Rubashov experiences flashbacks that allow us to know more about him, and the things he did due to his devotion to the Party. He betrayed people he loved, and those he appreciated, for no other reason than obedience to the Party and fear of going to jail.
We can have an idea of Rubashov's feelings and ideas all throughout his ordeal thanks to the fact that "Darkness at noon" is written in the first person. After a while, we are Rubashov, and like him we are surprised, outraged, desperate and ultimately resigned to our luck.
In the beginning, Rubashov says that he isn't a traitor and that he hasn't done the things he is accused of. But slowly our main character starts to come to terms with the idea that the truth of the accusation isn't really important, what matters is to serve the country.Read more ›
Darkness at Noon is an authentic and chilling look at Stalin's Russia in the late 1930s. Arthur Koestler completed this superb historical fiction in Paris as WWII was just beginning. In a short forward he says that the characters in this book are fictitious, but that the historical circumstances which determined their actions are real. The life of the man N. S. Rubashov is the synthesis of the lives of a number of men that were victims of the so-called Moscow Trials. Several of them were personally known to the author. He dedicates this book to their memory.
Suffering from a toothache, subjected to endless interrogation, deprived of sleep, Rubashov struggles to delay his inevitable final confession. He questions his own past and motivations. Was he unconsciously disloyal? Is he guilty? Does it matter whether he is guilty? Should he remain silent, argue, or simply capitulate?
Rubashov finds meaning in politics, history, and philosophy. We see him wrestling with the meaning of suffering, senseless suffering versus meaningful suffering. We sympathize with him as he questions the morality of betraying his life long beliefs, despite his recognition that he himself has been betrayed. He clearly knows that he is guilty of betraying others.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The communist "Pilgrim's Progress"--this book follows the thinking of a disillusioned revolutionary who followed the Marxist party logic, reflecting on the milestones of... Read morePublished 27 days ago by Bob Olden
If you want to know how the real communist or any fanatics were thinking you should read this book, and you will never believe in an idea which justifies the killing of people for... Read morePublished 6 months ago by julia bojta
I feel that this is a personal story, which is meant to represent the environment in Russia the first part of the 20th century. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kyle Wilshusen
For those who care about the unfolding of human political affairs, especially in 20th Century Europe, this is one of the most important books ever written. Read morePublished 14 months ago by John NC