KOESTLER, ARTHUR

KOESTLER, ARTHUR
KOESTLER, ARTHUR (1905–1983), author. Born in Budapest and educated in Austria and Germany, Koestler was probably the most cosmopolitan of 20th-century European writers, changing his language from Hungarian to German at the age of 17, and from German to English at the age of 35. In 1926 Koestler went to Palestine, where for three years he was correspondent for a German publisher and a foreign correspondent for German newspapers. He then returned to Europe and in 1931 was the only journalist on board the "Graf Zeppelin" during its Arctic expedition. He joined the Communist Party in the same year and visited the U.S.S.R. during 1932–33, but abandoned the party at the height of the Stalinist purges of 1936–38. This disillusionment was described in a contribution to The God That Failed (1949). Koestler's revulsion against the inhuman judicial processes of the age was expressed in the novel Darkness at Noon (1940), generally regarded as his best work and as one of the great political novels of the 20th century; it was later adapted for the stage. It tells the story of an old Bolshevik, Rubashov, who is arrested by the Soviet secret police and forced to confess to crimes which he did not commit. The strange psychological inversion which causes the victim to accept and acknowledge the justice of the charges leveled against him, while knowing that the evidence produced is false, provides the core of the novel's interest. During the Spanish Civil War Koestler was in Spain, and in 1937, while reporting the war for the London News Chronicle, he was captured and his Spanish Testament (1937) describes his hundred days in Franco's jails and the commutation of his death sentence to a term of imprisonment. In 1940 he volunteered for the French army and, after the collapse of France, escaped to England and fought with the British. An interest in the problems of the Jews in Mandatory Palestine was a natural outcome of Koestler's years there during the 1920s. His novel Thieves in the Night (1946) documents the Arab-Jewish conflict during the period before the British withdrawal, when the Jewish underground movements incurred official wrath for their involvement in "illegal immigration" and "terrorism." Though obviously sympathetic to the Zionist cause, Koestler directs a streak of irony at the mixture of religious mysticism and practical socialism which, to his mind, animated the settlers in the kibbutzim. Koestler returned to Ereẓ Israel for a brief visit during the War of Independence in 1948, and his Promise and Fulfillment: Palestine, 191749 (1949) surveys the era of the Mandate and the emergence of the State of Israel. After the establishment of the State, Koestler maintained that the Jews in the Diaspora were left with two choices: immigration to Israel, or total assimilation. He himself opted for the latter. Koestler's works range from novels on political and ethical problems to polemical essays and autobiography. His rejection of various ideologies, the outcome of a disappointed idealism, led him to probe the workings of modern society and the rise of totalitarian movements, which enslaved men, repressed their individualism, and threatened to destroy the striving for a nobler social and metaphysical order. His books include: the novel Arrival and Departure (1943); The Yogi and the Commissar (1945), a volume of essays; The Age of Longing (1951), a political novel; two volumes of autobiography entitled Arrow in the Blue (1952) and The Invisible Writing (1954); The Sleepwalkers (1959), a history of man's changing vision of the universe; The Lotus and the Robot (1960); The Act of Creation (1964) and a philosophical work, The Ghost in the Machine (1967), both of which constituted a philosophical attack upon the theory of determinism; and Scum of the Earth (1968). In The Thirteenth Tribe (1976), he suggested that European Jewry was largely descended from the khazars . Koestler and his wife committed suicide together. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J.A. Atkins, Arthur Koestler (Eng., 1956); J. Nedava, Arthur Koestler (Eng., 1948); J. Strachey, The Strangled Cry (1960), 1–7 (an Encounter pamphlet). (Harold Harel Fisch)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Koestler, Arthur — born Sept. 5, 1905, Budapest, Hung. found dead March 3, 1983, London, Eng. Hungarian British novelist, journalist, and critic. He is best known for Darkness at Noon (1940); a political novel examining the moral danger in a totalitarian system… …   Universalium

  • Koestler, Arthur — ► (1905 83) Escritor húngaro. Escribió en inglés. Autor de Un testamento español y La escritura invisible. * * * (5 sep. 1905, Budapest, Hungría–hallado muerto 3 mar. 1983, Londres, Inglaterra). Novelista, periodista y crítico húngaro británico.… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Koestler, Arthur — (1905–83)    Author. After living in Palestine for five years (1926–31), Hungarian born Koestler returned to Europe and joined the Communist party, but abandoned it during the Stalinist purges of 1936–8. His disillusionment later produced his… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Koestler,Arthur — Koest·ler (kĕstʹlər, kĕsʹ ), Arthur. 1905 1983. Hungarian born British writer whose novel Darkness at Noon (1941) portrays his disillusionment with Communism. His other works include The Sleepwalkers (1959) and The Ghost in the Machine (1967). *… …   Universalium

  • KOESTLER, Arthur — (1905 )    HUNGARIAN novelist and journalist who developed strong interests in the PARANORMAL. Author of Darkness at Noon (1940), The Sleepwalkers (1959) and The Lotus and the Robot (1966) …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Koestler — Koestler, Arthur …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Arthur Koestler — Arthur Koestler, CBE (* 5. September 1905 in Budapest, Österreich Ungarn; † 3. März 1983 in London) war ein deutschsprachiger Schriftsteller. Er schrieb vorwiegend auf Deutsch und Englisch, vereinzelt auc …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Arthur Köstler — Arthur Koestler Arthur Koestler, CBE (* 5. September 1905 in Budapest; † 3. März 1983 in London) war ein österreichischer Schriftsteller ungarischer Herkunft. Er schrieb vorwiegend auf Deutsch und Englisch, vereinzelt auch auf …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Arthur Koestler — Kösztler Artúr Nacimiento 5 de septiembre de 1905 Budapest …   Wikipedia Español

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