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Darkness at Noon

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  13,281 ratings  ·  651 reviews
Originally published in 1941, Arthur Koestler's modern masterpiece, "Darkness At Noon," is a powerful and haunting portrait of a Communist revolutionary caught in the vicious fray of the Moscow show trials of the late 1930s.During Stalin's purges, Nicholas Rubashov, an aging revolutionary, is imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the party he has devoted his life to....more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published 1961 by Signet Book (first published 1940)
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Feb 10, 2014 sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Interested in Human Rights and Political Theory
Recommended to sckenda by: Modern Library; Amnesty International
The oceanic sense is counter-revolutionary. --Darkness at Noon

Prisoner #404 resolves not to scream when they torture him. He will eventually confess, of course, but there is an etiquette of torture to which he, as a professional, must adhere. But to what crime will he confess? Charged with “oppositional tendencies,” #404 awaits his interrogation “with serene self-confidence of a student awaiting an exam.”

Darkness at Noon is a political and psychological novel about the Moscow Show Trials and...more
Jeffrey Keeten
”This is a diseased century.
We diagnosed the disease and its causes with microscopic exactness, but wherever we applied the healing knife a new sore appeared. Our will was hard and pure, we should have been loved by the people. But they hate us. Why are we so odious and detested?
We brought you truth, and in our mouth it sounded a lie. We brought you freedom, and it looks in our hands like a whip. We brought you the living life, and where our voices is heard the trees wither and there is a rustli
Dec 21, 2008 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who feels guilty about not being political enough
Oh, how I do love those Russians! Plus I'm hoping reading this will make me feel better about my own life, which lately feels like a grim, freezing Stalinist dystopia of gray hopeless days. It could be worse, right?


I've got a lot of work to do tonight, and somehow I thought this would be an excellent time to go back and review Darkness at Noon. MUCH bigger priority than getting work done, wouldn't you say....?

Well, so, okay, this book was a little bit bleak. Yeah, not the feel-good date nov...more
An Announcement Concerning the Class Traitor Not

After a scrupulously fair trial in the Amazon People's Court, Comrade Not has been found guilty of posting an ideologically unsound review. To protect other comrades from the possibility of being seduced into thought-crime, the review has now been removed from the community area. Amazon has also offered Not a course of reeducation. Their representatives arrived promptly at 4 am yesterday morning, and courteously but firmly helped Not to understand...more
Dave Russell
At the end of 1984 Winston Smith asks O'Brien why the party acts the way it does. His answer always pissed me off: "Power for power's sake." That's not an explanation. That's a tautological cop out. It's like Orwell was content to warn us about what a totalitarian state would look like without exploring more deeply why it got there. Thanks George.
Darkness at Noon explores this question more fully and in a more honest way. According to Koestler the Soviets were basically a bunch of Raskolnikovs....more
Stephen P
A best friend with different literary tastes than myself recommended a book. An historian buff he reported this psychological, political rendered piece of fiction as his all time favorite. A friendship of many years deserves its many sacrifices. A bit of time seemed small. Maybe many of us here at GR have been in this situation. A small amount of time sacrificed does not only mean plowing instead of the grace of reading but also not getting the time for the next book we have been waiting to rea...more
Arthur Koestler was a Twentieth Century intellectual who wrote DARKNESS AT NOON, his masterpiece in 1940. The psychological torture of the Old Bolshevik, Rubashov, who is imprisoned and murdered by his Party in the show trials of the late nineteen thirties is the side of collectivist ideology rarely portrayed...the impact on an individual.

Citizen Rubashov's was accused of crimes he did not commit in order to justify his execution. Then, what was he guilty of? According to the Party, his "faction...more
Before I read Darkness at Noon, I could never quite comprehend the source of the wretched servility and abject self-negation with which the Old Bolsheviks broadcast their guilt and apostasy in so convincing a manner at the Moscow Show Trials in the mid-thirties. Koestler—no stranger to dark, narrow prison cells and the exquisite torture of living minute to precious minute awaiting the stark drum roll of the executioner's approaching footsteps—brings all of his harsh experience to this swiftly-mo...more
A rather strange experience: here is a book which possesses many great qualities--it is well written, has a gripping story, and a great depth of psychology--but it ultimately falls into that secondary tier of modern novels that fail to make a full philosophical exploration of their quandries.

Perhaps the relative slimness of this book--often cited as the best novel of the Twentieth--is related to that shortcoming. While the political message is powerful and the philosophical questioning interesti...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Comrade Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov is one of the founding Party of the Revolution. He is also perhaps the only man of that group of idealising thinkers still alive. For a long time he has had a recurring dream of being arrested in his bed, while sleeping under the poster of No. 1 (Stalin), the same poster that hangs above every bed, on every wall. And finally, he is arrested. As a politicial prisoner he is given solitude and time to sweat. There is a certain degree of fatalism in the way he...more
Koestler’s principle character, Rubashov, spends his entire adult life pushing the master narrative of the Soviet Revolution only to fall victim to it when the Stalinist purges of the 30s come calling. He’s arrested, seemingly for no reason, and forced to swallow the same cold philosophy he not only espoused but also used to justify the deaths of friends, compatriots, and even his lover. The Soviet prison where he finds himself is a Kafkaesque nightmare, but for Rubashov, all the conflict is int...more
Jared Smith
Without hope man has little left to live for. Rubashov was a strong man with an iron heart, willing to sacrifice anyone for Mother Russia (including himself), but without a hopeful reality, idealistic thought doesn’t help much. Set in a Russian political prison during the so-called Moscow Trials of the 1930s, Darkness at Noon paints a solemn picture of life inside a prison, where tapping code on thick cement walls is the only mode of communication and its commonplace to watch a prison mate being...more
A fiercely intelligent examination of the thought behind ruthless totalitarian communism through the account of a former Party Commissioner who is arrested and interrogated by a member of the younger generation, a native of the revolution.

It seems to me that Koestler has set out to render a great service to humanity in writing this book, and required all of his experience and insight to do so. It closes forever the possibility of ascribing confessions like Rubashov's to 'brainwashing', exposing...more
Aug 08, 2010 Vheissu rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Vheissu by:
Shelves: literature
"Honour was to serve without vanity, without sparing oneself, and until the last consequence." (Koestler, p. 189)

This book is less a "novel" than a personal meditation on the nature of
totalitarianism and the role--if any--of individuals in it. Arthur Koestler (1905-1983)was a disenchanted Marxist-Leninist who was jailed and tortured in Spain and France before World War II and subsequently lived out his life in England. The book was published in 1941, just before the United States and Soviet Uni...more
Erik Simon
I've done a foolish thing. For years, when it's come to the classic political novels (1984, BRAVE NEW WORLD, etc.), I've discarded reading so many of them because I've heard so much about them it's as if I already know them. DARKNESS AT NOON was just such another. But Christopher Hitchens (man crush, I admit, but strictly Platonic: on TV, he always looks so greasy, as if unwashed) speaks so highly of it I thought I finally should. So I did. And I loved.
A joy to read and an important book in a very genuine way: both in its original historical context and, perhaps, for good. While Koestler uses more 'real world' dynamics than his firend Orwell did in '1984', both explore the problems of revolution and modern revolutionary politics. While Orwell's character is a kind of 'everyman', Koestler's is an 'old guard' revolutionary faced with a purge. The ethics and unethics of both worlds collide brilliantly. In particular, in a way perhaps Orwell did n...more
Moses Kilolo
This is definately not an easy read! A better part of the first half was spent wondering what its all about. There are men in prison, some cases of discussion about suicide and other human ills, lots of twisted ethics and twisted logic, and of corse a lot more prision and political discourse that I honestly did not understand.

The only solid truth about this is that its pretty thought provoking. The discussions between Ivanov and Ruboshov in prison are somewhat confusing, but further analysis re...more

If you liked the parts in 1984 that everyone else thought was boring or too political you might like this book. If you've never considered that revolution takes more than rebellion (and that intrigues you) you should give it a shot (the book, not the rebellion). If you need a book with a lot of fluffy dialogue and no unanswered questions and something that will brighten your day... you should probably stick with the Babysitters Club or something.

I liked it. If there was a three and a half star o...more
میلاد کامیابیان
تاریخ ظلمات
درباره‌ی «ظلمت در نیمروز» و ترجمه‌های فارسی‌اش

میلاد کامیابیان

کتاب‌های بسیاری تاریخ را روایت می‌کنند و کتاب‌های بسیار کمی اهمیت تاریخی دارند. اما کتاب‌هایی که این هر دو ویژگی را باهم داشته باشند انگشت‌شمارند. «ظلمت در نیمروز» آرتور کوستلر یکی از آن‌هاست. نویسنده خودش از آن تاریخ‌سازها بوده: تا پیش از وقوع جنگ جهانیِ دوم فرصت کرده، با چرخشی اساسی، از صهیونیسم به کمونیسم بگراید و از آن هم بگسلد و، بعد، در حین جنگ، در فرانسه زندانی شود و به ارتش بریتانیا بپوندد و برای بی‌بی‌سی کار کند و،...more
Masoome Ya
"ظلمت در نیمروز"
نوشته ی "آرتور کاستلر" نویسنده ی مجارستانی است که بهترین اثر او به شمار می رود.
در این رمان ،از دستگیری تا اعدام بولشویک پا به سن گذاشته ای به نام «روباشوف» را میخانیم که( در داستان) از رهبران انقلاب ۱۹۱۷ و عضوی از کمیته مرکزی حزب کمونیست شوروی بوده.

عنوان کتاب " ظلمت در نیمروز " اصطلاحی‌ است که از انجیل گرفته شده و به معنای آن است که کسی به گناه ناکرده دم تیغ برود.

به هنگام نیمروز ظلمت همه‌جا را فراگرفت و تا ساعت سه بعدازظهر ادامه یافت.

در این وقت عیسی با صدای بلند فریاد زد: «ایلوئی
Mark Bruce
Jul 02, 2007 Mark Bruce rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: politically minded folk
Period piece from the bad old days of Communism--1941 was the date on the library edition I borrowed. Koestler was a Hungarian who pretty much hated the Soviet Union, and with good reason.

On one level, this is an absorbing study of a man whose political principles are tested as he's imprisoned by the very system he helped to create. The prison scenes and the main charactor's struggle with his past are the most compelling portions of the novel.

Unfortunately, there are long, long, looooooooong pa...more
Koestler provides a more realistic take on the same territory staked out by Kafka’s The Trial and Orwell’s 1984(which it influenced). Set in specific time and date, that of the 1930’s show trials of Stalinist Russia, though presented in a language that aims for a universal parable.
Arthur Koestler's "Darkness at Noon," published in 1940, was an early and powerful exposé of Stalin and the communist dream of world revolution that had turned for so many into a nightmare. This is a novel driven by ideas. Chief among these is an attack upon the notion that only huge historical forces and masses matter. Koestler's hero Rubashov tries to reconnect with the "Grammatical Fiction," the "I," which he had rejected as a leader of the Bolshevik Old Guard. He also recognizes the hopeless...more
Graham Powell
I supposed that it’s unusual to name as a forgotten book one that was listed in the top ten novels in English in the 20th century, but I have to wonder how widely Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon is read today.

This novel tells the story of Rubashov, a communist since his early youth, a hero of the Russian Revolution, and later a prominent envoy (frequently undercover) to other European countries. As the book opens he’s awakened by hammering at his apartment door. Even before he answers there’s...more
DARKNESS AT NOON. (1940). Arthur Koestler. *****.
This work was required reading for one of my college courses, a long time ago (1959-1960). At the time of its publication – and even when I read it – the book was banned in the USSR. It may still be banned today, I’m not sure. I do remember that I wished at the time that they had also banned it in Pennsylvania. It is not an easy read, but my second read provided for an appreciation that I wasn’t capable of the first time through. Koestler (1905-19...more
An interesting novel but I find it pale in comparison with real prison literature, I'd recommend Evgenia Ginzburg's memoir Journey into the Whirlwind above this without hesitation, not on account of literary merit but simply because of the author's sense of surprise at the unlikeliness of it all. Koestler's fiction is a work of the imagination. Something designed to serve the purposes of the author, that gives insight into their opinions and not into (save perhaps accidentally) the situation the...more
An excellent book.

Two good things about it:

First, it avoids the temptation to be too clever. Rather, it remains sincere. I anticipated several ways that the book could have gone wrong, for the sake of greater (but shallower) apparent poignancy, for surprise impact, or for sensation, at the sacrifice of truthfulness. The book avoids all such traps. In fact, it's a book on a sensational topic that avoids sensationalism. The author, like his protagonist Rubashov, is commited to following his logi...more
Based upon the Moscow Trials of 1938, "Darkness at Noon" is an oppressive look at the inner workings of the Stalinist purges. After playing a minor role in the Russian Revolution, and maneuvering after Lenin's death to consolidate his power, Stalin was gripped by nasty bout of paronoia. He thus proceded to try and execute the very top leaders, military or political, who helped overthrow the czar. Arthur Koestler's novel forces us into the mind of Nicolas Salmanovitch Rubashov, ex-Comissar of the...more
Alfred Searls
Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov is being tortured. It’s not the ripping out of fingernails and the taking of hammers to knees kind of torture; rather it’s the slower, more insidious type where the victim is deprived of sleep, slapped about, humiliated and endlessly questioned. It’s ugly, convincing and hideously compelling … and you’re going to struggle to feel any sympathy for him.

Empathy yes, but sympathy … not so much; for Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov is no harmless intellectual; no politic...more
i read an article the other day which suggested that the allied victory in WWII owes more to stalin's willingness to sacrifice 27 million people than we're lead to believe. it's an uncomfortable way of looking at the end of nazi germany (among other things), but it (maybe?) makes a morbid kind of sense. the article lingered in my head as i read darkness at noon, which was published in 1940 - five years before the war's end, and about 13 years prior to stalin's death. koestler was one of the earl...more
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Arthur Koestler CBE [*Kösztler Artúr] was a prolific writer of essays, novels and autobiographies.

He was born into a Hungarian Jewish family in Budapest but, apart from his early school years, was educated in Austria. His early career was in journalism. In 1931 he joined the Communist Party of Germany but, disillusioned, he resigned from it in 1938 and in 1940 published a devastating anti-Communis...more
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“Satan, on the contrary, is thin, ascetic and a fanatical devotee of logic. He reads Machiavelli, Ignatius of Loyola, Marx and Hegel; he is cold and unmerciful to mankind, out of a kind of mathematical mercifulness. He is damned always to do that which is most repugnant to him: to become a slaughterer, in order to abolish slaughtering, to sacrifice lambs so that no more lambs may be slaughtered, to whip people with knouts so that they may learn not to let themselves be whipped, to strip himself of every scruple in the name of a higher scrupulousness, and to challenge the hatred of mankind because of his love for it--an abstract and geometric love.” 41 likes
“It was quiet in the cell. Rubashov heard only the creaking of his steps on the tiles. Six and a half steps to the door, whence they must come to fetch him, six and a half steps to the window, behind which night was falling. Soon it would be over. But when he asked himself, For what actually are you dying? he found no answer.

It was a mistake in the system; perhaps it lay in the precept which until now he had held to be uncontestable, in whose name he had sacrificed others and was himself being sacrificed: in the precept, that the end justifies the means. It was this sentence which had killed the great fraternity of the Revolution and made them run amuck. What had he once written in his diary? "We have thrown overboard all conventions, our sole guiding principle is that of consequent logic; we are sailing without ethical ballast.”
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