Arthur Koestler Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

ph_0111207093-Koestler.jpg Arthur Koestler Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Among his nonfiction works, Arthur Koestler (KEHST-luhr) published four autobiographical volumes—Spanish Testament (1937), later abridged as Dialogue with Death (1942); Scum of the Earth (1941); Arrow in the Blue: The First Volume of an Autobiography, 1905-1931 (1952); and The Invisible Writing: The Second Volume of an Autobiography, 1932-1940 (1954)—as well as an autobiographical essay on his disillusionment with Communism found in The God That Failed (1950), edited by Richard Crossman and with additional essays by Richard Wright, Ignazio Silone, Stephen Spender, Louis Fischer, and André Gide. Koestler’s nonfiction works exceed twenty-five volumes, divided roughly between social-historical commentary and the history of science. He also wrote one play, Twilight Bar: An Escapade in Four Acts (pb. 1945). Koestler’s first five novels, along with most of his other books, have been reissued in the Danube edition, published in England by Hutchinson and in the United States by Macmillan.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Arthur Koestler will be remembered as an apostate to the Left who dramatized in Darkness at Noon and in his autobiographical works the integrity of many Communist intellectuals in the 1930’s and the anguish they suffered under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. As a novelist, he is generally a skilled storyteller, putting conventional techniques to the service of philosophical themes. Although none of his novels were best sellers in the usual sense, Darkness at Noon—translated into thirty-three languages—has been reprinted many times, and its appeal shows no sign of slackening. It continues to be read widely in college and university courses and is probably one of the most influential political novels of the twentieth century, despite the fact that comparatively little academic literary criticism has been devoted to it. Indeed, Koestler’s novels—even Darkness at Noon—are perhaps kept alive more by political scientists and historians than by professional students of literature.

Aside from being an accomplished novelist of ideas, Koestler was one of the finest journalists of his age, often producing works as controversial as his political fiction. Typical of his best essays is the piece in The Lotus and the Robot (1960) on “Yoga Unexpurgated” (noted as being “far too horrible for me to read” by William Empson in his review); like many other of his best essays, “Yoga Unexpurgated” will maintain its...

(The entire section is 417 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Cesarani, David. Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind. New York: Free Press, 1999. A good examination of the writer and his works. Includes bibliographical references and an index.

Day, Frank. Arthur Koestler: A Guide to Research. New York: Garland, 1987. In addition to a listing of Koestler’s publications, there are 518 entries for writings about him, many of them from newspapers and journals. Includes some foreign-language items, and the latest materials are from 1985.

Goodman, Celia, ed. Living with Koestler: Mamaine Koestler’s Letters, 1945-1951. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985. A vivid personal view of Koestler, documented by Koestler’s second wife, Mamaine Paget.

Hamilton, Iain. Koestler: A Biography. Reprint. New York: Macmillan, 1985. This lengthy biography, favorable to Koestler, is arranged year by year in the fashion of a chronicle and breaks off around 1970. Many events have been retold partly on the basis of interviews, Koestler’s papers, and firsthand accounts.

Harris, Harold, ed. Astride the Two Cultures: Arthur Koestler at Seventy. London: Hutchinson University Library, 1975. This collection of essays by authors sympathetic to Koestler provides approximately equal coverage of the writer’s involvement in literary and in scientific concerns....

(The entire section is 455 words.)