7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
More illuminating than it sounds,
This review is from: Darkness at Noon (Paperback)
Written in 1940, this novel reflects the kind of pessimism which followed the post-revolutionary Soviet period and with which we're now familiar. Koestler, himself only recently released from one of Franco's jails where he was imprisoned under sentence of death, builds his story around Rubashov whom we join at the point of his arrest on the sinister-sounding charge of "political divergences".
As one of the few remaining fathers of the revolution Rubashov knows better than most what lies in store for him at the hands of the new generation of brutal leaders. His downfall was as inevitable as the falling away of faith in the system which preceded it. There was a time when his belief in the power of the revolutionaries to alter irrevocably the course of history was unshakeable so much so that he himself has been the perpetrator of serious crimes, the memory of which now haunts him in his cell.
Because of that he makes an unlikely hero, but nonetheless the reader cannot fail to respect and appreciate his stoicism and to share his ironic realisation that his inquisitors are persecuting him using the very same theories and dogma with which he once suppressed opposition.
It's not difficult to see the influence which this short novel had on Orwell, most obviously in "Animal Farm" and "1984", both published later in the same decade.
The horror of Rubashov's confinement is neither sentimentalised nor over-dramatised leaving "Darkness at Noon" as accessible and relevant as it is important in the development of twentieth century fiction.