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Koestler, Arthur

british spanish rubashov memories

(British, 1905–83)

Koestler, a Hungarian journalist who acquired British citizenship after fighting for Britain in the Second World War, was a political writer with a major interest in philosophy and psychiatry. His first book, Spanish Testament (1937), was an autobiographical account of his imprisonment during the Spanish Civil War, when he narrowly escaped being shot as a spy. Begin with Darkness at Noon (1940), Koestler's best-known work and the middle section of his three-part study of revolution, its ethics and ideals. Set during the Moscow Trials of the 1930s, and partially based on the experiences of people Koestler knew, the novel begins with the arrest of N. S. Rubashov, an old Bolshevik accused of betraying the state he helped to create, and follows him until his execution several weeks later. The narrative details Rubashov's daily life, his memories, thoughts, and testimonies as he follows his own political logic to its furthest limits by agreeing to confess to fabricated crimes. Move on to Arrival and Departure (1943), the final part of the trilogy and the first novel Koestler wrote in English, which centres on Peter Slovak, a disillusioned revolutionary who arrives in Neutralia (an unspecified European country) and is taken in by Dr Sonia Bolgar, a family friend who, following his nervous breakdown, talks him through his previously suppressed memories, identifying a self-destructive urge issuing from the lasting guilt of a childhood accident.

Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Alexander Solzhenitsyn  SR

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