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About Arthur Koestler
Born in Budapest in 1905, educated in Vienna, Arthur Koestler immersed himself in the major ideological and social conflicts of his time. A communist during the 1930s, and visitor for a time in the Soviet Union, he became disillusioned with the Party and left it in 1938. Later that year in Spain, he was captured by the Fascist forces under Franco, and sentenced to death. Released through the last-minute intervention of the British government, he went to France where, the following year, he again was arrested for his political views. Released in 1940, he went to England, where he made his home. His novels, reportage, autobiographical works, and political and cultural writings established him as an important commentator on the dilemmas of the 20th century. He died in 1983.
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Titles By Arthur Koestler
Editor Michael Scammell and translator Philip Boehm bring us a brilliant novel, a remarkable discovery, and a new translation of an international classic.
In print continually since 1940, Darkness at Noon has been translated into over 30 languages and is both a stirring novel and a classic anti-fascist text. What makes its popularity and tenacity even more remarkable is that all existing versions of Darkness at Noon are based on a hastily made English translation of the original German by a novice translator at the outbreak of World War II.
In 2015, Matthias Weßel stumbled across an entry in the archives of the Zurich Central Library that is a scholar's dream: “Koestler, Arthur. Rubaschow: Roman. Typoskript, März 1940, 326 pages.” What he had found was Arthur Koestler’s original, complete German manuscript for what would become Darkness at Noon, thought to have been irrevocably lost in the turmoil of the war. With this stunning literary discovery, and a new English translation direct from the primary German manuscript, we can now for the first time read Darkness at Noon as Koestler wrote it.
Set in the 1930s at the height of the purge and show trials of a Stalinist Moscow, Darkness at Noon is a haunting portrait of an aging revolutionary, Nicholas Rubashov, who is imprisoned, tortured, and forced through a series of hearings 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 betrayals of a merciless totalitarian movement masking itself as an instrument of deliverance.
Koestler’s portrayal of Stalin-era totalitarianism and fascism is as chilling and resonant today as it was in the 1940s and during the Cold War. Rubashov’s plight explores the meaning and value of moral choices, the attractions and dangers of idealism, and the corrosiveness of political corruption. Like The Trial, 1984, and Animal Farm, this is a book you should read as a citizen of the world, wherever you are and wherever you come from.
Arthur Koestler's extraordinary history of humanity's changing vision of the universe
In this masterly synthesis, Arthur Koestler cuts through the sterile distinction between 'sciences' and 'humanities' to bring to life the whole history of cosmology from the Babylonians to Newton. He shows how the tragic split between science and religion arose and how, in particular, the modern world-view replaced the medieval world-view in the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. He also provides vivid and judicious pen-portraits of a string of great scientists and makes clear the role that political bias and unconscious prejudice played in their creativity.
The Invisible Writing is the second volume of Arthur Koestler's autobiography
Taken together, Arthur Koestler's volumes of autobiography constitute an unrivaled study of a twentieth-century man and his dilemma. Arrow in the Blue ended with his joining the Communist Party and The Invisible Writing covers some of the most important experiences in his life.
This book tells of Koestler's travels through Russia and remote parts of Soviet Central Asia and of his life as an exile. It puts in perspective his experiences in Franco's prisons under sentence of death and in concentration camps in Occupied France and ends with his escape in 1940 to England, where he found stability and a new home.
The first volume of Arthur Koestler's autobiography is Arrow in the Blue.
"A brilliant and deeply moving record of a whole generation as well as of an individual" Observer
Publicada originalmente en 1941, El cero y el infinito es la obra maestra de Arthur Koestler, un retrato estremecedor del totalitarismo y sus mecanismos de destrucción moral.
Durante las purgas estalinistas, el viejo revolucionario Nicolás Rubachof es encarcelado y sometido a tortura psicológica por el partido al que ha dedicado toda su vida. La presión que el régimen ejerce sobre él terminará por mostrarle la ironía y la vileza de una dictadura que se cree instrumento de liberación.
** Prólogo de Mario Vargas Llosa
«Koestler nos legó una obra que siempre resultará atractiva y estimulante a quienes admiren a los hombres de principios o disfruten sin más de las batallas de ideas.»
Arrow in the Blue is the first volume of Arthur Koestler's autobiography.
It covers the first 26 years of his life and ends with his joining the Communist Party in 1931, an event he felt to be second only in importance to his birth in shaping his destiny.
In the years before 1931, Arthur Koestler lived a tumultuous and varied existence. He was a member of the dueling fraternity at the University if Vienna; a collective farm worker in Galilee; a tramp and street vendor in Haifa; the editor of a weekly paper in Cairo; the foreign correspondent of the biggest continental newspaper chain in Paris and the Middle East; a science editor in Berlin; and a member of the North Pole expedition of the Graf Zeppelin.
Written with enormous zest, joie de vivre and frankness, Arrow in the Blue is a fascinating self-portrait of a remarkable young man at the heart of the events that shaped the twentieth century.
The second volume of Arthur Koestler's autobiography is The Invisible Writing.
'Perhaps the most remarkable autobiography since the confessions of Rousseau' V. S. Pritchett, New Statesman
Based on the author's own experiences in a kibbutz, it sets up a stage in describing the historical roots of the conflict between Arabs and Jewish settlers in the British ruled Palestine.
The book tackles many subjects, such as Zionism and idealism. Koestler was Zionist early in life, but later abandoned the idea.
The title is a Biblical reference, quoted on the title page:
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night." (2 Peter 3:10)
The Trail of the Dinosaur , first published in 1955, contains a great deal of Koestler's thinking for the first ten years after the war – a 'farewell to arms' as he wrote in his preface. These essays deal with the political questions that obsessed him for the best part of a quarter of a century.
The essays in 'The Trail of the Dinosaur' cover the decade 1946–55-the early or classical period of the Cold War. In that confrontation the West was on the defensive, and the majority of its progressive intellectuals were still turning a benevolently blind eye on Soviet foreign policy and the facts of life behind the Iron Curtain . In the dramatic contest between Whitaker Chambers and Alger Hiss, which has been called the Dreyfus Affair of our century, progressive opinion stood firmly behind Hiss. And when, in the New York Times, I took Chambers' part, I became, if possible, even more unpopular among self-styled progressives than I had been before.
In 1937, during the Civil War in Spain, I spent three months under sentence of death as a suspected spy, witnessing the executions of my fellow prisoners and awaiting my own. These three months left me with a vested interest in capital punishment-rather like 'half-hanged Smith', who was cut down after fifteen minutes and lived on.
Reflections on Hanging is a searing indictment of capital punishment, inspired by its author’s own time in the shadow of a firing squad. During the Spanish Civil War, Arthur Koestler was held by the Franco regime as a political prisoner, and condemned to death. He was freed, but only after months of witnessing the fates of less-fortunate inmates. That experience informs every page of the book, which was first published in England in 1956, and followed in 1957 by this American edition.
As Koestler ranges across the history of capital punishment in Britain (with a focus on hanging), he looks at notable cases and rulings, and portrays politicians, judges, lawyers, scholars, clergymen, doctors, police, jailers, prisoners, and others involved in the long debate over the justness and effectiveness of the death penalty.
In Britain, Reflections on Hanging was part of a concerted, ultimately successful effort to abolish the death penalty. At that time, in the forty-eight United States, capital punishment was sanctioned in forty-two of them, with hanging still practiced in five. This edition includes a preface and afterword written especially for the 1957 American edition. The preface makes the book relevant to readers in the U.S.; the afterword overviews the modern-day history of abolitionist legislation in the British Parliament.
Reflections on Hanging is relentless, biting, and unsparing in its details of botched and unjust executions. It is a classic work of advocacy for some of society’s most defenseless members, a critique of capital punishment that is still widely cited, and an enduring work that presaged such contemporary problems as the sensationalism of crime, the wrongful condemnation of the innocent and mentally ill, the callousness of penal systems, and the use of fear to control a citizenry.