[Reading] ➬ El cero y el infinito ➳ Arthur Koestler – Writerscompany.co.uk

El cero y el infinito This is most appropriately classified as an autobiographical novel The author, Arthur Koestler, became a member of the German Communist Party in 1931 In 1938, disillusioned by Stalin s Moscow show trials and indiscriminate purges of the so called counter revolutionaries, he left the Party In 1940 came his critique Darkness at Noon a novel sharply critical of Communism.Both the author and the central protagonist of the novel, Rubashov, begin with a strong belief in Communism Both become dis This is most appropriately classified as an autobiographical novel The author, Arthur Koestler, became a member of the German Communist Party in 1931 In 1938, disillusioned by Stalin s Moscow show trials and indiscriminate purges of the so called counter revolutionaries, he left the Party In 1940 came his critique Darkness at Noon a novel sharply critical of Communism.Both the author and the central protagonist of the novel, Rubashov, begin with a strong belief in Communism Both become disillusioned Thus, both the positive and the negative are illuminated, allowing one to see Communism s potential as well as its weaknesses Rubashov, brimming with the merits and ideals of Communism, has dedicated his life to the Party Now, he is imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the very same Party he had so fervently worked to establish I appreciate that the book is not filled with excruciating depiction of physical abuse The psychological torture, as depicted in the book, is adequate Sleep deprivation, blazing lights, extended interrogations, threats and mock killings Rubashov is confined to an isolation cell, but prisoners have a means of communicating by tapping Tension inexorably mounts in the book.The beginning is confusing The events spoken of are true, but in that they are described in generic terms, confusion arises The setting is 1938 Russia during the Great Purge, and yet Russia is never once mentioned Stalin is spoken of as Number One The Soviet government is spoken of as the Party Nazi Germany is spoken of as the Dictatorship As you come to understand how the story is told, the confusion clears.How does the story end It ends as it must end, as it should end The audiobook I listened to is narrated by Frank Muller At the beginning I disliked it immensely As I continued, I grew accustomed to his manner of speaking By the end it felt OK, but I never grew to like it I have thus given the audio performance two stars What I dislike, but which may not disturb others, is Muller s tendency to progressively speak faster and faster, to increase suspense and tension First, the speed increasesandandThen he concludes the sentence by drawing out the end interminably, with a long drawn out whisper This drove me nuts It isprominent at the beginning than at the end of the audiobook I do not like narrators to artificially exaggerate suspense An Announcement Concerning the Class Traitor NotAfter a scrupulously fair trial in thePeople s Court, Comrade Not has been found guilty of posting an ideologically unsound review To protect other comrades from the possibility of being seduced into thought crime, the review has now been removed from the community areahas also offered Not a course of reeducation Their representatives arrived promptly at 4 am yesterday morning, and courteously but firmly helped Not to understand An Announcement Concerning the Class Traitor NotAfter a scrupulously fair trial in thePeople s Court, Comrade Not has been found guilty of posting an ideologically unsound review To protect other comrades from the possibility of being seduced into thought crime, the review has now been removed from the community areahas also offered Not a course of reeducation Their representatives arrived promptly at 4 am yesterday morning, and courteously but firmly helped Not to understand her dialectical misconceptions.Since her reeducation course, Comrade Not s behavior has been much improved She has not written anyideologically dubious posts, but sits in front of the TV, watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and weeping quietly It is truly a privilege to count myself a member of the GloriousOnline Republic of Goodreads RUSBASHOV, Miembro De La Vieja Guardia Bolchevique Y H Roe De La Revoluci N Sovi Tica, Ha Sido Encarcelado Acusado De Traici N Al Gobiernode Mosc Es Incitado A Autoinculparse De Una Serie De Delitos Y Traiciones Que No Ha Cometido, Pero Termina Por Confesar A Fin De Salvar La Revoluci N Esta Obra Cumbre De La Literatura Pol Tica Nos Ofrece Un Testimonio Excepcional De La Angustia Que Sufrieron Cientos De Antiguos Miembros Del Partido Que Desaparecieron, Fueron Encarcelados Y Juzgados O Llegaron A Autoinmolarse Para Salvarlo Oh, how I do love those Russians Plus I m hoping reading this will make me feel better about my own life, which lately feels like a grim, freezing Stalinist dystopia of gray hopeless days It could be worse, right I ve got a lot of work to do tonight, and somehow I thought this would be an excellent time to go back and review Darkness at Noon MUCH bigger priority than getting work done, wouldn t you say Well, so, okay, this book was a little bit bleak Yeah, not the feel good date nov Oh, how I do love those Russians Plus I m hoping reading this will make me feel better about my own life, which lately feels like a grim, freezing Stalinist dystopia of gray hopeless days It could be worse, right I ve got a lot of work to do tonight, and somehow I thought this would be an excellent time to go back and review Darkness at Noon MUCH bigger priority than getting work done, wouldn t you say Well, so, okay, this book was a little bit bleak Yeah, not the feel good date novel of the year, not this one Darkness at Noon conveys the brutality and claustrophobia of the prison cell and interrogation room, and you kind of do feel like you re there, toothache and hunger and all, and okay let s be honest it isn t much fun.This story, such as it is, covers the madcap adventures of one Mr Rubashov, a revolutionary who is in the process of being purged by the vaguely Stalinesque Number One, leader of the Party that Rubashov helped to create Now, if you think this sounds reminiscent of the delightful 1960s television show The Prisoner, think again Actually, I bet whoever dreamed up The Prisoner had read this book a few times.But don t get excited There are no bicycles, womb chairs, or hot mod girls in striped shirts here There is only the cell, and the Party, and Rubashov s thoughts oh, and his pince nez, and the tapping guy next door, and a few tortured memories but really there s pretty much only Rubashov, and the Party.This was a helpful book for a girl who grew up in Berkeley, California, where they put red diapers on their babies and give the children Che Guevara dolls to play with Barbie s considered counter revolutionary As a good homegrown lefty, I ve always been a bit baffled by the Red Scare, and why exactly people get soooooo hysterical about communism I mean, obviously I understand why people get so freaked out about Stalin, but I mean like communism and all that sort of thinggenerally and this book did give me a better sense of what that s about I think I do get a bitwhat it is that freaky people like Ayn Rand or whoever are reacting against it s this idea of subordinating one s self in this book, the first person singular pronoun is called a grammatical fiction in service of a presumed greater good, and it s about the deeply unpleasant places one arrives at in following that line of thought to its logical conclusion.I didn t love this book, but I thought it was successful at conveying this idea well through the form of the novel The reader is in Rubashov s head truly stuck just with him and his thoughts while he sits in solitary confinement awaiting his torture and death and what works well here is that disorienting experience of occupying the person of an individual who s in denial of his and everyone else s own individual personhood Koestler s really emphasized the individuality and humanity of all the book s characters even minor ones in a way that makes them each distinctive and memorable, and this heightens the sense that there is something seriously wrong with Rubashov s world view You get or I got the eerie feeling of this empty character who s hollowed himself out into a sort of vessel for the Party, but who still retains some sense of individual humanity he suddenly experiences while confronting death Then I think that there s some trick there on the reader when this soulless, unsympathetic character begins experiencing cognitive dissonance in confronting his own sense of individual humanity, and the reader sort of gets sucked along after him, even if we started out ahead at least, that s kind of what happened to me.On the one hand, this book is agitprop, and on the other, it s a pretty decent novel but really there aren t two hands, or if there are, they re cuffed together, or intertwined or something I mean, there really isn t a novel here without the political stuff, and I sort of feel like I took two main things away from this First, Darkness at Noon is not just about Stalin but is a specific critique of the left which says that at its extreme, this political philosophy crushes the individual in service of Humanity Okay, so this is obvious, overly rehearsed stuff, as is its counterpart that the right s extreme crushes Humanity in service of the individual Blah blah blah blah, who cares, right I mean, I do But it s not news.Though I did benefit from and appreciate the anti communist perspective, what I ultimately took away from this was beyond the narcissism of left right differences When you turn out the lights, those colors and distinctions go away, and then there you are, in a dark cell Torture and murder by the state certainly didn t start with Stalin or end with ahem any recent administrations, and personally if I were arrested and tortured, I wouldn t be too overly concerned with the political nuances of the state doing it I take Darkness at Noon to be saying, on some level, that the state is just scary Politics is dangerous, because it leads to this construction of ends and means, and that just doesn t usually go anywhere good I mean, therein lies the road to extraordinary rendition via unmarked planes to Syria or whatever and a lotta other real icky stuff.This book got me thinking about a troubling phenomenon I ve always been stuck on, which is how so many activists and such with lovely leftist politics I don t really know any right wing activists, so I can t speak on that very often treat the individuals in their lives like total shit I mean, clearly not all, but enough to be noticeable, and I ve always really wondered about that My difficulty dealing with really political people on a personal level is one major reason why I m notpolitically active myself, and this book fed into my bias about that Can most people only really focus on either the individual in the foreground or humanity in the background Do we lack the lens to see both clearly at the same time I think Koestler s saying people can t, or at least, people can t in a totalitarian communist state, which is perhaps not a point that needs much belaboring.Anyway, this was a pretty good book, and I m glad that I read it While reading Kiss of the Spider Woman afterwards, I couldn t stop drawing parallels between Valentin and Rubashov, and thinking about how much happier Rubashov could have been if only they d given him a gay cinophile for a cellmate Alas, it was not to be.By the way, apparently Bill Clinton commented during the whole Lewinsky shitshow that he felt like Rubashov in Darkness at Noon, which to me seems like a very shocking and self indicting statement, considering the details of the novel here s a little article about that Darkness at Noon is a haunting picture of life in the darkest era of Stalinist Russia inside a political prison The protagonist is Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik who is arrested and tried for treason by the government that he helped create Vividly realistic, Koestler paints the life of Rubashov in his prison cell, his wall tapping conversations with other inmates, his memories of life outside and some of the crimes he committed and the rationalizations for them, as well as his confrontation with h Darkness at Noon is a haunting picture of life in the darkest era of Stalinist Russia inside a political prison The protagonist is Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik who is arrested and tried for treason by the government that he helped create Vividly realistic, Koestler paints the life of Rubashov in his prison cell, his wall tapping conversations with other inmates, his memories of life outside and some of the crimes he committed and the rationalizations for them, as well as his confrontation with his jailers the ill fated former friend Ivanov, and the brutish and violent neanderthal Gletkin of the starched sleeves and harsh methods The story moves rather quickly and the reader is drawn into the story almost immediately with the difficulty in positioning with respect to Rubashov he is a victim of an injustice and we want to feel sorry for him and yet he himself has innocent blood on his hands, lots of blood from people he threw overboard in the system knowing it meant the victims certain death so he is also repulsive This ambiguity makes the book an engaging read cover to cover As many countries shift towards authoritarian regimes, this is a timely book to read about the harsh realities for those who are not elites and even those elites who fall out of favor politically and are flattened by the machine of the state A must A 20th century classic that succeeds on two levels As a searing indictment of totalitarian political systems, and as an absorbing human drama My initial feeling of revulsion toward the protagonist, Rubashov a former high ranking government functionary, now imprisoned and charged with crimes against the state ultimately gave way to a grudging sense of compassion At the story s climax I somehow resisted the urge to set down the book, walk down the hallway, and start drumming my hands on m A 20th century classic that succeeds on two levels As a searing indictment of totalitarian political systems, and as an absorbing human drama My initial feeling of revulsion toward the protagonist, Rubashov a former high ranking government functionary, now imprisoned and charged with crimes against the state ultimately gave way to a grudging sense of compassion At the story s climax I somehow resisted the urge to set down the book, walk down the hallway, and start drumming my hands on my bedroom door An inside reference, for those who have read this book Recommended to fans of George Orwell s 1984 George really liked Darkness at Noon there s a good chance you ll like it, too In closing How come there s never been a major theatrical film adaptation of this book It would make a fine period piece, and I d love to see it on the big screen Until thenfive stars I need reminders from time to time, like those in this novel, of psychological and moral atrocities, of the hyper viciousness of a pack lead by unstable maniacs and sociopaths Darkness at Noon is a chilling novel about Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov, an old Bolshevik, formerly Commissar of the People, and a leader in the 1917 Russian REVolution, who is imprisoned during Stalin s purges after he speaks out against the tyranny of his former comrades These former comrades torture Rubashov and bre I need reminders from time to time, like those in this novel, of psychological and moral atrocities, of the hyper viciousness of a pack lead by unstable maniacs and sociopaths Darkness at Noon is a chilling novel about Nicholas Salmanovitch Rubashov, an old Bolshevik, formerly Commissar of the People, and a leader in the 1917 Russian REVolution, who is imprisoned during Stalin s purges after he speaks out against the tyranny of his former comrades These former comrades torture Rubashov and break him psychologically until he confesses to crimes he did not commit A powerful political classic Nothing is worse in prison than the consciousness of one s innocence it prevents acclimatization and undermines one s moraleComrade Rubashov has been arrested But this is nothing He s been around this block before He knows, for instance, this truth about the consciousness of innocence as the unseen man in the neighboring cell clearly does not The unseen man who taps at the pipewho is in many ways not unlike the conscience Comrade Rubashov put into storage some forty years before th Nothing is worse in prison than the consciousness of one s innocence it prevents acclimatization and undermines one s moraleComrade Rubashov has been arrested But this is nothing He s been around this block before He knows, for instance, this truth about the consciousness of innocence as the unseen man in the neighboring cell clearly does not The unseen man who taps at the pipewho is in many ways not unlike the conscience Comrade Rubashov put into storage some forty years before the internal saboteur he s energetically barred from congress with the rest of his psyche the empathetic weakness that tap tap taps so foolishly against the hardened steel of his intellect s door It s a tap tap tap one indulges, but fails to politically profit by.Koestler s classic, Darkness at Noon, follows the aging Rubashov through the days and nights of this imprisonment His time on the political stage is coming to a close His peers within the regime, once lions of Communist might, have been picked off by the younger cubs of the Revolutionary State Philosophical Neanderthals, he calls them, and yet they are the future And in the weeks that follow we will watch him come to terms with this reality in the same manner, it has long been suspected, Arthur Koestler was forced to come to terms with his own socialist past It is a stark and unforgiving light he shines on Communist Party politics When coupled with the blinding pain of a man whose incarceration shifts, splits and mutates through the physical, the intellectual, the emotionalwell, let s just say I thought the comparisons to Kafka and Dostoevsky were both accurate and deserved Sonnenfinsternis Darkness at Noon, c1940, Arthur KoestlerDarkness at Noon German Sonnenfinsternis is a novel by Hungarian born British novelist Arthur Koestler, first published in 1940 His best known work, it is the tale of Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik who is arrested, imprisoned, and tried for treason against the government that he had helped to create 2001 Sonnenfinsternis Darkness at Noon, c1940, Arthur KoestlerDarkness at Noon German Sonnenfinsternis is a novel by Hungarian born British novelist Arthur Koestler, first published in 1940 His best known work, it is the tale of Rubashov, an Old Bolshevik who is arrested, imprisoned, and tried for treason against the government that he had helped to create 2001 1379 240 9646235239 20 1391 245 9789642091324 230 18419171930 The back of my 1972 copy of Darkness at Noon claims that it is one of the few books written in this epoch which will survive it To me, Darkness at Noon seems like a book on the verge of being forgotten It s almost never on the shelves in bookstores or libraries, and I rarely hear it discussed I don t think it s taught in schools, at least in my part of the world Perhaps with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of communism and the Cold War, the importance of the great revolutions The back of my 1972 copy of Darkness at Noon claims that it is one of the few books written in this epoch which will survive it To me, Darkness at Noon seems like a book on the verge of being forgotten It s almost never on the shelves in bookstores or libraries, and I rarely hear it discussed I don t think it s taught in schools, at least in my part of the world Perhaps with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of communism and the Cold War, the importance of the great revolutions of the 20th Century and their ensuing brutal authoritarian regimes is appearing less and less relevant to the current and future global political landscape Maybe they are being interpreted asof a political aberration an anomaly, rather than an important and lasting historical trend Stalin is long gone, taking the immediacy of Darkness at Noon with him But this is a book to be viewed through a much wider lens I will concede that Darkness at Noon certainly doesn t resonate as clearly with the current state of the world as does Nineteen Eighty Four, with which it is often compared But Darkness at Noon is nonetheless a wonderfully profound and important book It can be compared to Orwell s novel not only for its vision of a totalitarian political state, but also for its penetrating insights into human nature and psychology Koestler explores the nature and substance of conviction how belief in an ideology can skew moral judgement and cause people to rationalise their actions within the ideological framework He exposes logic as a dangerously unreliable tool one that can be used to justify any course of action, given a sufficiently corrupt set of starting assumptions He offers a glimpse into the means by which idealistic intentions can develop into totalitarian realities, and how ideology can propagate throughout the political ranks in a process that selects for proponents and perpetuates and reinforces itself Although the tone of the writing itself may be somewhat simple and declarative, the execution of these ideas and themes within the narrative is expertly done There is bleakness, but also humour in the writing There is a close narrative voice that draws the reader by degrees into the mind of Rubashov It is a slow untangling of a convoluted web of beliefs, actions and justifications We observe the internal oscillation in perspective that both creates and dismisses crimes when actions align with or oppose a particular ideological position, and in the next moment we see the inversion of Rubashov s previous judgement when its axioms are called into question This is a corrupted morality based on the perpetuation of the system, rather than on any real concept of right and wrong.At the core of Rubashov s story is the struggle of youth against age Those who become old earn the wisdom to see the folly of their own youthful ideals, but they must now be judged by the young, whose values have been shaped by the systems that those very ideals put into place There is a twisted irony to this perpetual struggle, and an inevitability which favors the side with energy, boldness and conviction, against that with patience, wisdom and reflection Stalin may be gone, but human nature remains unchanged

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