Darkness at Noon

Darkness at Noon

Book - 2019 | Scribner trade paperback edition
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The protagonist 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.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2019
Edition: Scribner trade paperback edition
ISBN: 9781501161315
1501161318
Characteristics: xviii, 249 pages ; 22 cm

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k
kwsmith
Feb 27, 2021

Based on events which occurred in 1938 during the Stalinist Purge and Moscow show trials, this classic 1940 novel is a searing indictment of totalitarian political systems. The protagonist, Rubashov, is an Old Bolshevik revolutionary who is falsely arrested, tortured, and tried for treason against the new government that he helped to create just years earlier. The book ruminates almost philosophically about the differences between democratic and totalitarian governments. [Originally thought lost during the Nazi invasion of Paris, Koestler's original German manuscript was recently discovered in a dusty filing cabinet located in Switzerland, thus we enjoy this new translation by Philip Boehm!]

r
richibi
Dec 02, 2020

a revolutionary is called upon to answer to his now corrupted masters, a profound, and grim, introspection follows, a novel for our, equally fraught, times

d
dalewsaville
Mar 09, 2020

I have the same view as the reviewer from 2018 - this is a frighteningly relevant in 2020. No, I am not comparing Trump to Stalin ("No. 1" in the book). Rather, this thinly disguised novel provides an insight on how people (the masses) create, and tolerate, their governments. The author (Koestler), through the protagonist (Rubashov), develops the theory that technological innovation moves at a faster pace that social maturity. When disruptive technology, for example when the industrial revolution overtook agriculture (the book was written in 1941), people gravitated to autocratic governments (fascism, communism). When social maturity catches up, people gravitate to democracies. In the book Rubashov is prevented from developing his theory through historical research. However, I would speculate the American & French revolutions for democracies coincide with the pinnacle of water and horse power before steam power became prevalent. Likewise, the 21st century swing towards autocratic governments coincides with disruptive information technology. "The Age of Illusion" by Andrew Bacevich states that Trump is not the cause, rather the consequence of America's struggle to find its post-Cold War identity. Putin's control of Russia is a consequence of the loss of the social and economic "stability" of the former Soviet Union. When you use Koestler's lens on the relationship between people and their governments, then Joseph de Maistre's (1753-1821) quote rings true, "Every nation gets the government it deserves."

j
jeanjessup
Jul 23, 2018

Just finished reading this and it is frighteningly appropriate for our times. It reminds me so much of the ideology of the Left and their outrageous accusations and name-calling. If they were allowed to continue to grow into a fully formed totalitarian state, it would be a similar illogical, inhumane government that was described in the book. Really scary.

l
lukasevansherman
Nov 14, 2013

Hungarian-born Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon" is perhaps the definitive novel of the totalitarian mind and state (with apologies to "1984"). Set during Stalin's purges, it tells of a party member (perhaps based on Trotsky) who is arrested, imprisoned and interrogated. Much of the novel consists of long dialogues, reminiscent of "The Grand Inquisitor" section of Brothers K., and internal monologues. One of Modern Library's top ten novels of the century.

r
rrrobbie
Mar 11, 2012

very interesting story about the darkness ot the Stalinist period.

Very scary times

j
jr637
Nov 07, 2011

The ending makes sick logical sense, but goes against every moral grain in your body. A well-written book deserving of its #8 spot on the Modern Library's Top 100 Novels.

m
msalmon
Mar 12, 2011

Excellent book about totalitarianism. Although it is old, it is still relevant today.

If you don't have experience with an all-controlling government, this presents a good idea of the suffering imposed upon people.

r
reschkes
Jan 18, 2011

Fanatastic book. A must read.

f
fletchmo
Jan 08, 2010

a heavy read, deep thought from the main character, narrator about what conditions are needed to have a democracy.
read this book 20 years ago and it really stuck deep into my mind

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