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Darkness at Noon Paperback – October 17, 2006
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-- New Statesman (UK)
"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."
-- The New York Times Book Review
"A rare and beautifully executed novel."
-- New York Herald Tribune
"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."
-- The Times Literary Supplement (London)
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Darkness at Noon is an authentic and chilling look at Stalin's Russia in the late 1930s. Arthur Koestler, formerly a member of the Communist Party, 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 a 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 ›
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 descriptions found in history texts such as Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsarand Stalin and His Hangmen: The Tyrant and Those Who Killed for Him of the fate of millions during the purges.
Further, whereas these 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 in Darkness at Noon go a long way toward 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 explaining why so many millions of people actively participated in the denunciations that accompanied the purges and show trials.
During the height of the proceedings against him during his Presidency, former President Clinton compared himself to Rubashov. Clinton's comparison to Rubashov is rich with unintended irony.Read more ›
Koestler explores the journey of Rubashov from the knock at the door through the final denouement. The reader observes Rubashov, who plays the role of narrator, as he undergoes the psychological change from a determination to resist to nearly total capitulation. Rubashov manages to hold to some crumbs of self-respect, but yields to the logic of the revolution as more important than any individual even when the accusations are complete fabrications.
`Darkness at Noon' is precisely imagined with its details of Rubashov pacing the floor of his small isolation cell, the coded tapping between adjacent cells, and the deprivation of physical comforts that make the subsequent small graces, such as limited outdoor exercise, become precious by comparison. This much of the tale was informed by Rubashov's experiences as a prisoner during the Spanish Civil War. Koestler's examination of the psychological destruction of the prisoner is fascinating, although at times it briefly lapses into stultifying disquisitions on the distorted Stalinist political philosophy.
Koestler himself was a German communist through much of the 1930's before immigrating to Britain, leaving the party and becoming an influential ex-communist.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book, but, oh, so dark! Very aptly titled! I couldn't put it down though, until I'd finished it, which wasn't much time since it's a pretty fast read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by revbish
This story shows the ideal situation for the ideas of many revolutions in Russia in the 1930's. Arthur Koestler uses many developed details as he divulges into this story of the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Daeja Lillard
An important, thought-provoking read. Vivid insight into Stalin's Great Purge of the late 1930's. This book sticks with you long after you are finished with it.Published 2 months ago by BJT
Though written about Stalin's Soviet Union in 1940, 41, prior to the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the book still is applicable to today. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Walter F. Billings
The new translation, based on the recent discovery of the original manuscript, sounds as though it will be more elegant stylistically. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Agnes Mung
I've known about this book for 40 years but just read it for the first time. It is an extraordinarily powerful fictional depiction of one of Stalin's show trials. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Muiron