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on 10 November 1999
This is just about as good an example of the art of biography as you are likely to come across. It has all the basic requirements of content based on meticulous research, a thoughtful introduction and a challenging conclusion, an exhaustive index, and a comprehensive record of notes and sources, but it is also a very good read! Lucid, perceptive and, at least as far I was concerned, compulsive. No mean feat for a book almost 600 pages long. Koestler himself is brought brilliantly alive in all his contradictions and complexities, but so also are many of the other figures in his life. His second wife, Mamaine, for example, is so vivid that I kept turning back to the photo of her and Koestler sitting on their sofa just to see her face again. Then there are the figures that pass across the pages and grow to resemble a roll-call of many of the century's major writers and thinkers - Bertrand Russell, Orwell, Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir and so on. Plus some more incidental ones like Cyril Connolly and Timothy 'Turn on tune in drop out' Leary. On top of all this the author uses the character of Koestler to raise and consider some fundamental universal issues, such as the importance of an individual's sense of self and the part homelessness can play in creativity. Marvelous stuff.
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on 23 April 2010
I have been an ardent admirer of Koestler's ideas and writings for 25 yeards now. As you can guess, I was rather shocked when I read David Cesarani's biography of Koestler ("The Homeless Mind" : 1999).
Using the story of one woman 50 years after the event as a case for proving that Koestler was a "serial rapist".
I have read a lot of biographies in my life and I am convinced that a decent biographer would have been more careful and just mentioned it and left it at that.
Nobody will ever be able to prove what happened; but after this book nobody will be able to disprove it either. The book utterly destroyed Koestler's reputation when it came out. And mine as well...

Michael Scammel has just published a new biography of Arthur Koestler : "The Indispensable Intellectual".
Thank you Michael Scammell for putting things in a clearer perspective and raising some very convincing question marks around the whole story. Thank you also for writing the first biography that goes beyond retelling Koestler's own autobiography.

We must never forget that Koestler has always been despised as a 'renegade' by jews and communists alike. Cesarani, in the introduction of his book mentions the revulsion the name Koestler provoked when his own father heard Koestler's name; his father still being a dedicated communist.
I don't know whether Cesarani is a Jew, but he surely has strong Jewish sympathies if you look at his literary output. I am convinced that Cesarani, while writing his biography of Arthur Koestler, could not withstand the temptation of settling a score. Offcourse I can not prove any of this...
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on 10 November 1999
This is just about as good an example of the art of biography as you are likely to come across. It has all the basic requirements of content based on meticulous research, a thoughtful introduction and a challenging conclusion, an exhaustive index, and a comprehensive record of notes and sources, but it is also a very good read! Lucid, perceptive and, at least as far I was concerned, compulsive. No mean feat for a book almost 600 pages long. Koestler himself is brought brilliantly alive in all his contradictions and complexities, but so also are many of the other figures in his life. His second wife, Mamaine, for example, is so vivid that I kept turning back to the photo of her and Koestler sitting on their sofa just to see her face again. Then there are the figures that pass across the pages and grow to resemble a roll-call of many of the century's major writers and thinkers - Bertrand Russell, Orwell, Camus, Sartre, de Beauvoir and so on. Plus some more incidental ones like Cyril Connolly and Timothy 'Turn on tune in drop out' Leary. On top of all this the author uses the character of Koestler to raise and consider some fundamental universal issues, such as the importance of an individual's sense of self and the part homelessness can play in creativity. Marvelous stuff.
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on 5 March 2016
A great insight into a truly complicated man. David Cesarani deserves high praise.
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