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Darkness at Noon

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  26,085 ratings  ·  1,466 reviews
The newly discovered lost text of Arthur Koestler’s modern masterpiece, Darkness at Noon—the haunting portrait of a revolutionary, imprisoned and tortured under totalitarian rule—is now restored and in a completely new translation.

Editor Michael Scammell and translator Philip Boehm bring us a brilliant novel, a remarkable discovery, and a new translation of an internationa
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Scribner (first published 1940)
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Dan His arrest and eventual consequences are not important the meat of the book comes from the interrogation and his interactions with other prisoners.

I d…more
His arrest and eventual consequences are not important the meat of the book comes from the interrogation and his interactions with other prisoners.

I dont know what to tell you, its a book about USSR and imprisonment. Its like not watching the death of Stalin, because you know hes going to die. (less)
Stacy I think another reason the author did not specify a particular country is that it really didn't matter. It was a picture of a socialist regime and how…moreI think another reason the author did not specify a particular country is that it really didn't matter. It was a picture of a socialist regime and how the socialist policies are enforced in that given country, which is proven out through history. It doesn't matter whether it was Russia, or China, or North Vietnam, or take your pick of many others-- the enforcement was always the same. The same tactics were always used, as if they were all going by some kind of manual to implement communism, which is the governmental side of socialism, which is the economic philosophy (2 sides of the same coin).(less)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-russians
”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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Sonnenfinsternis = Darkness at Noon, c1940, Arthur Koestler
Darkness at Noon (German: Sonnenfinsternis) is a novel by Hungarian-born British novelist Arthur Koestler, first published in 1940. His best known work, it is the tale of Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik who is arrested, imprisoned, and tried for treason against the government that he had helped to create.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیستم ماه سپتامبر سال 2001 میلادی
عنوان: ظلمت در نیمروز؛ نویسنده: آرتور کوستلر (کستلر)؛ مترجم: اسدالله امرایی؛ ویراست
The back of my 1972 copy of Darkness at Noon claims that it is "one of the few books written in this epoch which will survive it." To me, Darkness at Noon seems like a book on the verge of being forgotten. It's almost never on the shelves in bookstores or libraries, and I rarely hear it discussed. I don't think it's taught in schools, at least in my part of the world. Perhaps with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of communism and the Cold War, the importance of the great revolutions ...more
Nov 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  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
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
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A 20th-century classic that succeeds on two levels: As a searing indictment of totalitarian political systems, and as an absorbing human drama. My initial feeling of revulsion toward the protagonist, Rubashov -- a former high-ranking government functionary, now imprisoned and charged with crimes against the state -- ultimately gave way to a grudging sense of compassion. At the story's climax I somehow resisted the urge to set down the book, walk down the hallway, and start drumming my hands on m ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
Darkness at Noon is a haunting picture of life in the darkest era of Stalinist Russia inside a political prison. The protagonist is Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik who is arrested and tried for treason by the government that he helped create. Vividly realistic, Koestler paints the life of Rubashov in his prison cell, his wall-tapping conversations with other inmates, his memories of life outside and some of the crimes he committed and the rationalizations for them, as well as his confrontation with h ...more
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: libri-classici
I need reminders from time to time, like those in this novel, of psychological and moral atrocities, of the hyper-viciousness of a pack lead by unstable maniacs and sociopaths.

Darkness at Noon is a chilling novel about Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov, an old Bolshevik, formerly Commissar of the People, and a leader in the 1917 Russian REVolution, who is imprisoned during Stalin's purges after he speaks out against the tyranny of his former comrades. These former comrades torture Rubashov and bre
Definitely one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. I am embarrassed, frankly, that I'm 37 and reading this only now. This is a work I should have read in high school, then in college, then again almost every year since. Standing guard silently behind greats like Orwell and Hitchens is Arthur Koestler. Rubashov is one of the best-realized characters and Darkness at Noon is a near-perfect novel. Dostoevsky would have killed Koestler with an axe, and Tolstoy would have pushed his ass in fro ...more
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Nothing is worse in prison than the consciousness of one's innocence; it prevents acclimatization and undermines one's morale...

Comrade Rubashov has been arrested. But this is nothing. He's been around this block before. He knows, for instance, this truth about the consciousness of innocence - as the unseen man in the neighboring cell clearly does not. The unseen man who taps at the pipe...who is in many ways not unlike the conscience Comrade Rubashov put into storage some forty years before; th
This is most appropriately classified as an autobiographical novel. The author, Arthur Koestler, became a member of the German Communist Party in 1931. In 1938, disillusioned by Stalin’s Moscow show trials and indiscriminate purges of the so-called counter-revolutionaries, he left the Party. In 1940 came his critique--Darkness at Noon--a novel sharply critical of Communism.

Both the author and the central protagonist of the novel, Rubashov, begin with a strong belief in Communism. Both become dis
Jun 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
Darkness at Noon is one of the classics of anti-totalitarian literature, often mentioned alongside novels such as Brave New World and 1984. While both these novels are fictions based on an idea of a totalitarian state, Darkness at Noon is a clear allegory of Soviet Russia during the 1930's - the time of the Moscow show trials and the Great Purge.

Although the author openly acknowledges this in the preface, the country in which the book is set is never named - though he includes specific details r
Jon Nakapalau
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classics
"If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him" - Cardinal Richelieu. Nicholas Rubashov is about to find out that sometimes it doesn't even take six lines...
Dave Russell
Jul 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
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.
Stephen P
Aug 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Written in the 1930's as Stalin purged the previous politburo members, Darkness at Noon offers a taste of the dark dreary Soviet world where the truth changes depending on who is now in power. In a visionary passage, there is talk about how the books were purged from the library and how the job would only be complete if they had taken the old newspapers and changed the news of the day. Other passages are eerie as well as the individual will is subordinated to the will of the party, whatever that ...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
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Arthur Koestler, through this tale, does a fine job explaining the sacrifices, accompanied with labyrinthine lies, necessary to sustain and propel a totalitarian regime. This might all feel ethereally remote, until, one day, you or I are sacrificed, at which point all becomes both immediate and very much lost. Living, as I do, in a nation with the highest incarceration rate per capita, it appears necessary sacrifice may be required even in a cherished democracy, a thought I believe Michel Foucau ...more
J.G. Keely
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
Nov 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dark and intriguing study of the politics of revolution, counter-revolution, social experimentation on a grand scale – set against the backdrop of Stalin’s Moscow show trials.

This a dark story of one man’s (fictionalised although based on fact) experience of arrest, incarceration, torture and subsequent show trial.

This is all about thought control and the ethics / morals of ‘physical liquidation’ / execution and the wiping out of huge numbers of people as part of the revolutionary process and
There are only two conceptions of human ethics, and they are at opposite poles. One of them is Christian and humane, declares the individual to be sacrosanct...the other starts from the basic principle that a collective aim justifies all means, and not only allows, but demands that the individual should in every way be subordinated and sacrificed to the community.

Koestler believes in socialism; his question is, if achieving socialism means torturing and murdering a few people, do we throw out th
Feb 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 01, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Remarkable story on the translation history of this book from the NYRB:

The implications of Weßel’s discovery are considerable, for Darkness at Noon is that rare specimen, a book known to the world only in translation. This peculiar distinction has been little discussed in the vast critical literature about Koestler and his famous novel. In my lengthy 2009 biography of Koestler I barely touch on it, yet the phenomenon is all the more extraordinary when one considers that the novel has been transl
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommend through Postman, who described it as complementing the 1984-Brave New World discussion. He was right! D at N is about the hypocritical cycle of power, the failures of revolutions, and whether or not ends justify means. Rubashov is a sympathetic protagonist, which makes his own failures and complicity all the more engaging. The book is careful to never mention major historical figures or regimes by name - this isn't a book about how mean Stalin was. It's about how power will always be v ...more
This is a brilliant book. To me it seems like the final reckoning with stalinism, and remarkably it was written at a time (the end of the 1930's) when still half of intellectual Europe raved about the Soviet Union. It's just incomprehensible that even after this book people like Jean-Paul Sartre doggedly stuck to his adoration for the Soviet model (and later on also the Chinese one). From a literary point of view this novel is not a real master work (hence the 3 stars), but still, it is nicely w ...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
B. Faye
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“What had he said to them? "I bow my knees before the country, before the masses, before the whole people...." And what then? What happened to these masses, to this people? For forty years it had been driven through the desert, with threats and promises, with imaginary terrors and imaginary rewards. But where was the Promised Land? Did there really exist any such goal for this wandering mankind? That was a question to which he would have liked an answer before it was too late. Moses had not been ...more
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A new development: A graduate student at the University of Kassel, Germany, discovered the original German-language manuscript of this book, which had been missing for decades, in a library in Switzerland. Readers know only the English version, which reflects a British interpretation of the original work. Unfortunately, this led to a variety of translation errors having the effect of softening the impact of the interrogations that Rubashov was forced to endure. In fact, instead of "interrogation ...more
Brian Yahn
I told myself I'd read enough WWII stories, but something had always drawn me to Darkness at Noon, so I started it anyway. Maybe I was meant to abandon it from the start.

Try as I did, I couldn't find anything to get excited about in this story. Still, I didn't hate it. Honestly, I wish I did. I felt nothing toward it -- something a story hasn't ever done to me. If nothing else, I'll always remember it for that.

Although Darkness at Noon seems clearly set in Soviet Russia during the 1930s, the nar
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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

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