The last chapter of Koestler s autobiography covers the years 1932 1940 and encompasses his break with Communism, and his flight from Europe and residence in England. Recently while sorting through my bookshelves I came across a battered copy of Arthur Koestler s most famous novel Darkness at Noon , which tells the story of a Bolshevik, Rubashov who undergoes imprisonment, torture and execution as part of Stalin s most notorious purge in the late 1930 s I picked it up and started reading but hours later found I could not put it down, which on reminiscing was the feeling that I had when I first read it over thirty years ago.This time however, the book did not feel like a historical document, or a prophecy about the future of Socialism, it felt instead like a news bulletin Written nearly eighty years ago after Koestler s break with the Communist party, of which he had been a member from 1931 to 1938 and capturing his disillusionment with the party, the broken promise of socialism and his own experiences in Spanish and French prisons, where he faced the very real possibility of death it outlined the arguments that had led people like Rubashov to break all laws of humanity and in effect live a lie 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, and asserts that the rules of arithmetic are not to be applied to human units The other starts from the basic principal that a collective aim justifies all means, and not only allows, but demands, that the individual should in every way be subordinated and scarified to the community which may dispose of it as an experimental rabbit or a sacrificial lamb Darkness at Noon.How was such a twisted system possible What Koestler outlines in his novel and in the second volume of his autobiography The Invisible Writing , which is primarily a retelling of his communist party years between 1931 to 1938, and then his experiences in the early days of World War Two and his eventual escape to safety in England, is how the truth was manipulated and twisted, which has frightening similarity with our own times and fake news and the use and abuse of social media We should be in an era where propaganda and misinformation is all but eradicated, instead is prevalent than ever.The twisting of facts to fit a desired outcome is nothing new, as Koestler reminds his readers with a timely quote from Machiavelli in his novel Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts But this must happen in such a way that no one becomes aware of it or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand, to be produced immediately How often do we see this technique used in the modern day But the precedents are numerous.So, Koestler may be a dead white Hungarian Jewish intellectual, who has gone out of fashion after being widely read from the forties to the early eighties, but on picking up his works again and particularly tracing his journey through the major political upheavals of the twentieth century, it is clear he still has much to offer, both as a guide and a prophet. Taken Together, Arthur Koestler S Volumes Of Autobiography Constitute An Unrivalled Study Of Twentieth Century Man And His Dilemma Arrow In The Blue Ended With His Joining The Communist Party And The Invisible Writing Covers Some Of The Most Important Experiences In His LifeThis Book Tells Of Koestler S Travels Through Russia And Remote Parts Of Soviet Central Asia And Of His Life As An Exile It Puts In Perspective His Experiences In Franco S Prisons Under Sentence Of Death And In Concentration Camps In Occupied France And Ends With His Escape In To England, Where He Found Stability And A New Home I would devide my life to before and after reading Koestler He changed me to a different person He was a man of a generation who witnessed final disaster of civil war in Spain and descending and demolishing of hope by communism in Soviet, while confronting the invasion of Fashism in Europe He explained his generation s pain and frustration as a most brave looser, not sophisticated but very simple The best description of the time is when he says The sun of the age of reason was setting down Arrow in the Blue together with The Invisible Writing are kind of autobiography of first 35 years of Koestler s life. In giovent l universo mi era apparso come un libro aperto, stampato nel linguaggio delle equazioni fisiche e delle determinanti sociali, mentre ora mi pare un testo scritto con inchiostro invisibile, di cui, nei nostri rari momenti di grazia, siamo in grado di decifrare un piccolo frammento Questo volume, quindi, il resoconto del viaggio da una chiarezza speciosa a un brancolare nel buio p 13 Remarkably honest, well written, and incredibly frustrating While it is impossible to fully understand the dilemma of liberal thought in the second quarter of the 20th century in Europe, you would have to be similarly neurotic to understand Koestler s attraction to Communism with the knowledge he possessed during much of the period of his infatuation He manfully explains the pathology of the intellectual progressives of his era influenced by the Great War, Depression, the rise of totalitarian governments in Europe, anti Semitism, causing an attraction to the flawed promise of Communism However, trying to carry this explanation to the dysfunction of the contemporary progressive does not make a smooth transition Perhaps it is the lack of intellectuals, no dialectic theory, and not enough to be angry about The difference between rebels and revolutionaries This book taught me that there are much better ways to spend my time than on the pages of the latest pop science fad books A gripping, beautifully written, honest account of what it was like to be a fervent believer in Communism. 20th Century history at its best And he advocated a United States of Europe as early as 1940 After WW2 it should have happened, and up to a point it did with the European Union, but today the British are intent on destroying it Koestler would have seen this coming La afiliaci n de Koestler al partido comunista provoca su despido de la agencia Ullstein, la poderosa cadena de diarios en la que trabaja Auspiciado por el Comintern, de cuyo Apparat ya es miembro activo, viaja por la Uni n Sovi tica y Asia Central Vuelve a Par s donde colabora activamente con Willy Muenzenberg, otro importante agente del Comintern, en campa as de propaganda antifascista Viaja a Espa a en dos ocasiones, con la intenci n de obtener pruebas que confirmen la colaboraci n nazi en la sublevaci n del 36 En su segundo viaje es detenido y condenado a muerte, sentencia que nunca ser ejecutada gracias, en gran medida, a una campa a de presi n internacional promovida por Dorothy, la ltima compa era sentimental de esa poca de su vida, de la que ya se hab a separado amistosamente En la c rcel espa ola reflexiona intensa y detenidamente sobre sus ideas pol ticas y, una vez liberado, decide abandonar el partido defraudado por completo por el comunismo y, m s concretamente, por el estalinismo Comienza entonces a escribir sus primeras obras Al evidente inter s hist rico de los hechos en los que estuvo involucrado, hay que sumar la tambi n interesante evoluci n de su pensamiento pol tico Una evoluci n marcada, en muchos casos, por una cobarde , seg n palabras del propio Koestler, acci n de quemar las naves , a la que recurre inconscientemente cuando la duda y el hast o se hacen insufribles y su inseguridad le paraliza Una inseguridad que revela, por otro lado, su permanente contacto con la realidad, a la par que unas loables tolerancia y amplitud de miras La habilidad narrativa de este periodista novelista ensayista queda patente desde las primeras p ginas del libro Koestler nos sorprende comenzando su autobiograf a con una visita a una hemeroteca a la que asistimos obligados por la propia lectura All no hace otra cosa que consultar los peri dicos correspondientes al d a de su nacimiento, intentando trazar lo que l llama su hor scopo secular As , citando textualmente el contenido de ciertas noticias y anuncios de los peri dicos de aquella poca recurso que en su momento debi resultar hasta innovador , a trav s de la lectura de una lectura aspecto, por otro, lado presente desde el Quijote en la historia de la literatura , nos introduce de forma solapada y amena en el decorado donde comienza la historia de sus antepasados m s inmediatos.Con la intenci n de ilustrar muchas de esas reflexiones literarias no duda en hacer referencia a sus propias obras, citando incluso algunos p rrafos de las mismas, lo cual no es una mala introducci n para un ne fito de su obra literaria En este aspecto resultan tanto o m s interesantes las observaciones que hace sobre otros literatos h ngaros, escritores europeos relacionados de una forma u otra con el comunismo, memorialistas ex miembros del Apparat o supervivientes de campos de concentraci n estalinistas y nazis Seria encomiable que m s editoriales se dedicaran a recuperar algunos de esos libros La lista es larga Alex Weissberg Conspiracy of silence , Manes Sperber, Alexander Foote Manual para esp as , Walter Krivitsky Fui un agente de Stalin , Greta Neumann Buber Under two dictators , Bruno Heiling Hombres crucuficados y otros m s conocidos como Bertolt Brecht, Anna Seghers o Ignazio Silone Es m s, probablemente algunos de ellos no vieron nunca la luz en Espa a, debido a la censura franquista, y considero espero no ser yo s lo que no deben ser olvidados o ignorados, principalmente por razones hist ricas y por ser muchos de ellos testimonio de algo que nunca deber a volver a pasar, aunque esta ultima consideraci n resulte un tanto t pica.A pesar de su extensi n, el estilo predominantemente llano y conciso, sembrado de agudas y sarc sticas apreciaciones de este inestimable observador cr tico de s mismo y del mundo que le rodea, sumado a la variedad de escenarios geogr ficos en que se desarrolla la obra, hacen que la lectura de estas memorias resulte fluida, ligera y francamente entretenida. What a life could really be the three word review of this amazing autobiography installment by Koestler This is second part in the three part autobiography and probably the meatiest I say probably, as I still haven t read the third, but considering that this covers historically the most interesting time in the life of modern Europe, I doubt his life could have been eventful in the latter years I ve been an unabashed fan of Koestler since I first read The Sleepwalkers It got better with Darkness at Noon Koestler is an amazing writer not because of style, but content That pretty much holds good for his autobiography as well Koestler s life is a like a miniature version of Europe in the pre and post communist wave And he seems to have been everywhere at the right time in the context of history although not in terms of personal safety for sure Palestine, Russia, France, Spain, England Koestler would, obviously, have it no other way After being saved from a possible execution in Spain, and being interned in France as enemy alien, Koestler still didn t want to take a safe exit out of Europe And I also knew that my roots were in Europe, that I belonged to Europe, and that if Europe went down, survival became pointless, and I would rather go down with her than take refuge in a country which no longer meant anything but a refuge This resolution was actually put to the test when France fell, and when, instead of heading for Palestine or still neutral America, I made my escape to England which led to another stretch of solitary confinement in a London prison during the blitz Yet even that prison cell in Pentonville meant Europe, my home.It s a truly remarkable life And yet what binds the book together is not the action, but the intellectual journey that begun in Arrow In The Blue the chronicles of his growing disillusionment with the Communist party and politics, to his eventual break with the party As is so typical of the book, the restless narrator tells the story of his life, and the life of restless Europe, and of his ideological journey, through the politically intellectually divided Europe There is so much to take in in Koestler that it s a shame that he is so hard to find in bookshops, online or offline NB It s interesting that I started this book on the even of the last new year and finished it on the eve of this.