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Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

"A classic according to your personal interpretation" was how we got the list of books this month and as a result, Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler was picked out of the hat.

A modern classic that was published in 1940, Darkness at Noon is a book concerned with the show trials of the USSR. Although Stalin is never named (presumably to protect the other), it is based upon the 1938 purges orchestrated by Stalin when unwanted Communist party members were ousted from the party and widespread police surveillance led to the repression of peasants.

The book is the second book in a trilogy, beginning with "The Gladiators", looking at the revolt of Spartacus, and ending with "Arrival and Departure" which tracked the journey of a WWII refugee.

While looking up about the book I discovered that Koestler handed his (only) manuscript to a friend to bring from Paris to England while he had to fight in North Africa. He abandoned the army and was waiting for his own ship to England when he was informed that the ship with his friend and manuscript on had been torpedoed and all aboard lost. Koestler subsequently attempted suicide, but luckily was not successful as the rumour turned out to be false and the manuscript was safe and well in England awaiting publication.

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  • Gill P.

    One question has struck me and that is how did we actually feel about Rubashov? Like him, empathise with him, think he deserved his fate or indifferent?

    February 3, 2014

    • Gill P.

      Ivanov's crime was the same as Rubashov's (and indeed Arlova's) in that all were deemed to be subversive to the political regime. Rubashov's treatment of the dock worker, Richard and others was exactly the same, the difference being that at that time he was in the position of power. Arlova would never have been saved even if she had heeded Rubashov's warning - all that would have resulted would have been an acceleration of Rubashov's demise if he had spoken on her behalf- kind of speeding up the inevitable. His crime, in his eyes eventually, when faced with his ultimate death was that it then became irrelevant if he had attempted to protect Arlova or not - with the end result being the same his concience possibly might have been clearer if he had done so but at the point in time when he could have spoken up his survival was paramount to him.

      February 20, 2014

    • Gill P.

      An interesting observation on human nature - will someone betray the one that they "love" in order to survive - think of 1984 when eventually the response is "do it to Julia"

      February 20, 2014

  • Catherine K.

    A long, thought provoking and lively discussion covering the philosophical, political and personal questions brought up by this book. A superb choice, thanks David!

    1 · February 4, 2014

    • Gill P.

      Given the choice of coming up with one of Graham Greene's works was very difficult - I was the only one that had read most - I suggested the "Quiet American" as we seem to be on a political theme with our classics....(also I have a copy so will not need to swell the coffers of Amazon further on this one)

      February 4, 2014

    • Gill P.

      Actually there were 5 or 6 of his works that would have been good choices - I am a big fan od his works and just can't believe I have never added his name into "the hat"

      1 · February 4, 2014

  • Gill P.

    On my way but have also just missed the bus. Should be there by 7.30

    February 3, 2014

  • Laura

    On my way but just missed the bus so might be 15 mins late x

    February 3, 2014

  • Alice M

    I'vegot a large table near the back

    February 3, 2014

  • Alister M.

    Sorry I've had to drop out tonight which is a shame as I really enjoyed this book and was looking forward to discussing it!

    February 3, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    i'm backing out as I haven't had chance to read this one. I will make sure I put some time aside for the next book!

    1 · January 31, 2014

    • Catherine K.

      Thanks for letting us know, see you soon I hope xxc

      February 2, 2014

    • Lisa W.

      Hi guys, sorry but I think I'll have to give tonight a miss now - need to take the cat to the vet and I think I'll be pushing it to make it to Reading for 7pm! If it does become possible then I'll see you there, but otherwise definitely next time :)

      February 3, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi Guys. I've also not had a chance to read the book, even though it was one I really wanted to! So I'm also going to give tomorrow a miss, but will see you soon :-) F

    1 · February 2, 2014

    • Catherine K.

      Hey shame, keep an eye on the details for next month xxc

      February 2, 2014

  • Paul

    Should finish the book tonight, but can't make it until later on tomorrow so please start without me.

    February 2, 2014

    • Catherine K.

      I need to finish it tonight too. See you tomo xxc

      February 2, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi guys, I'm really sorry but I won't be able to make it on Monday after all - going to be in London for work and won't get back in time. Hope you have a great discussion and I look forward to hearing about the next book choice! Livy

    January 31, 2014

    • Catherine K.

      Thanks for letting us know Livy, see you soon!

      January 31, 2014

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