2009: 84. Darkness at Noon

“The cell door slammed behind Rubashov.”

Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler

Ok, so this is a book.  I read it in college, but must have blown through it quickly for an assignment (or maybe only read excerpts?)*, because other than the general plot, I barely remembered the book.  Which blows my mind, because upon re-reading, this strikes me as nothing if not a memorable book.  It is the story of a party official in an unnamed Communist country (read, Russia), who having been a member of the original revolution, and having survived the various upheavals that followed, is arrested for disloyalty and forced to answer for his crimes.  In other words, its a story of the Moscow show trials, though the protagonist, Rubashov, is an amalgam of real-life characters.  Koestler was a Hungarian, and for a time was a Communist, and knew this life, and when he turned on Communism he wrote this novel.  It is absolutely a novel of ideas, in that it exposes the empty skeleton behind the Revolution and the world that followed, and it is often quite talky - the book takes place in a prison cell, and largely consists of Rubashov either thinking about his past, or being interrogated.   But what makes Darkness at Noon more than just propaganda (for a heavy-handed book can be propaganda even if it’s for the side of right) is how skillfully he captures the emotion of a man who lived his life for a cause only to realize he was on the side of wrong, and the suspense he infuses Rubashov’s story with.  Not whether he’ll live or die, for frankly we are reasonably certain he’ll die by the first page, but instead the suspense arise from how he’ll come to terms with the life he’s lead - and the tension from what ideas will ultimately take the day.  I found the book extremely powerful - it was hard to read, but seemed necessary.  I absolutely agree that this one should be on Modern Library Top 100...

*Or maybe was more focused on say boy problems then the reading? If it makes you feel better, I married the boy!

Date/Place Completed: July 2009; D.C.

Categories: Fiction, Modern Library Top 100, Book Resolutions, Commuting Book, Re-Read

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017