Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Darkness at Noon

I've just finished Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon - a book which I hadn't intended to read, but which I'm thankful I did.

That the novel addresses Stalinism and the Stalinist purges of the 1930s is clear. That its reach extends beyond the tragedies of this period, though, is what makes it significant.

True, the novel sometimes veers toward an uncomfortably didactic tone; and true, its central character's story is not as complete as it might be.

But those concerns seem rather beside the point. For here is a book that achieves something quite rare: in its focus on the past, it anticipates the horrors of the future. And more, too: it presents an unyielding realism, an admission that "eternity shrugs" in the same way men, broken and incarcerated, do.

To capture that reality is an exceptional accomplishment, indeed.

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