A fictional portrayal of an aging revolutionary, this novel is a powerful commentary on the nightmare politics of the troubled 20th century. Born in Hungary in 1905, a defector from the Communist Party in 1938, and then arrested in both Spain and France for his political views, Arthur Koestler writes from a wealth of personal experience. Imprisoned by the political party to which he has dedicated his life, Nicolas Rubashov paces his prison cell, examining his life and remembering his tempestuous career. As the old intelligentsia is eradicated to make way for the new, he is psychologically tortured and forced to confess to preposterous crimes. Comparing himself to Moses, led to the Promised Land but refused entry, he sees only darkness at the end of his life where once he saw such promise for humanity. Frank Muller’s narrative expertise is perfect for this haunting work. Rubashov’s personal agony becomes Muller’s as he presents Koestler’s relevant and important questions to a world entering a new millennium.
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“A remarkable book, a grimly fascinating interpretation of the logic of the Russian Revolution…a tense and subtly intellectualized drama.” (Times Literary Supplement)
great philosophical novel
the passages describing the main character's communication with his prison mates by tapping on the wall, in code, with his glasses, and the content of those communications
the series of scenes, in short order, of the main character's interrogations (and mulling over in his own mind his observations thereof)
a very appropriate title, I wouldn't change it
this is one of the great novels of the 20th century. You shouldn't miss it. The narration is outstanding.
Word loving college student with a 2+ hour daily commute, who sadly had to learn to accept that reading and driving are plainly incompatible
This book is a tough one to appreciate on its own. Without a concrete knowledge of what happened prior to 1914 one would almost feel sympathy for Nicolas Rubashov. He is a man betrayed by his party and finds every single ideal he worked for distorted and marooned from the Party's political views. It rings of Orwell, it rings true, I'm just not certain Koestler understood the end result of his line of thinking; Revolutions are a terrible idea. He seems to be content with the idea that THIS revolution turned out badly, that there was hope for something better and that violent revolutions can be effective (historically only the USA has managed to pull this off with any lasting effects). Koestler, with Orwell as company, seems to miss the fact that they revolutions are ineffective and beget only chaos and misery, all of which is captured rather candidly in the entirety of the Russian Revolution and the parts on display here.
The book is moving, it allows you to see the inside of a counter revolution, how the first one went south and shed the facade of 'for the people'. It's characters are largely shallow, but then they are mostly allegory. The language is well worth the listen, the lessons while not in line with my own understands are worth engaging. The book is considered one of the Top 10 most important books of the last century. Give it a listen, maybe you'll agree with me, maybe you won't, but Koestler lived what he wrote and it is impossible not to be occasionally crushed under the weight of the human tragedy that permeates the books pages.
This novel is listed as one of the top 100 novels. It is definitely very good. As always, there is debate if it is one of the best. However, if like character development and interior discussions in the novels, this is very good. Also, the obvious portrayal of a fascist or communist or totalitarian state's impact on a society, individuals, and institutions is very interesting since there are few places on earth where such as states exists still, for the moment.
Mr. Muller performed well and has interesting voice. His interpretation and characterizations fit quite nicely the players in the novel.
I had been looking forward to reading this book because I've enjoyed Russian authors-Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky etc and IMHO this novel has a place alongside the works of those all-time greats. Darkness is already on many of the short lists of greatest novels of the 20th century and it belongs there. First and foremost, it's a bitter slam at the evils of Stalin's totalitarian regime seen through the eyes of a man inescapably caught in Stalin's spider's web. I loved the narrator's (Frank Muller) voice. I'd already listened to him narrate several Cormac McCarthy novels and the voice was completely appropriate for the harsh, stark, vicious but beautiful prose. A very rewarding book. Time well-spent!
I don't know but the narrator is excellant.
I liked the main character's secretary. She seemed so realistic and doomed.
Yes I have and as always he is excellent.
The end - when the narrator knew what was awaiting him.
Compelling psychological truth.
1984, because it has that sense of a society gone mad.
Sinister. Measured. Cynical.
What happens when you reap what you sow?
Muller was a good choice for narrator because of his sinister tone. I think other narrators could have done a better job narrating the political arguments, or giving the characters different voices (I sometimes got confused as to whether Rubashov or Ivanov was speaking), but the tone was right.
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