Darkness at Noon Topics for Further Study
by Arthur Koestler

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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

  • Rubashov has been compared to Soviet political leaders Karl Radek, Nicolai Bukharin, and Christian Rakovsky, as well as to Koestler himself. Research the lives of these figures and determine which of them you believe influenced Rubashov’s character, and how. Is Rubashov a fair representation of the leaders tried from 1936 to 1938? Did he have the same motivation for confessing?
  • Koestler was an active Zionist (a believer that Jews should have a homeland in Palestine) during his youth, he supported the creation of an Israeli state after World War II and later in his life he became very interested in spirituality. What are the religious undertones in Darkness at Noon? What is the nature of Koestler’s allusions to Christianity and Judaism? How does the political ideology in the novel deal with religion?
  • Discuss the treatment of women in Darkness at Noon. Could the novel be considered sexist? Research the treatment of women in the USSR during the 1930s, and compare it to the treatment of women in the United States during the same time period.
  • Read a biography of Joseph Stalin such as Edvard Radzinsky’s 1997 study. Was Stalin solely responsible for the Moscow Show Trials, or do you think they reflect the inevitable tendency of the Bolsheviks? How did the trials fit into Stalin’s career and dictatorship? Did Koestler’s novel affect Stalin’s growing reputation as a tyrant? If so, how?