The Hitch on Koestler’s milestone anti-Stalinist novel

Christopher Hitchens in Slate:

050912_bb_arthurkoestlertn_1There probably is a monograph by somebody, somewhere, on the single subject of Hungarian Jewry in the 20th century, from men of letters to political dissidents to economists to nuclear physicists. Think of the context: the cafe society of the twin cities of Buda and Pest, the end of Austro-Hungary, the cockpit of Bolshevism and fascism, the most ghastly closing scenes of the Final Solution and the first armed revolution against Stalin, all of this transmitted by a diaspora of the brilliant—and much of it mediated though a language that is almost impossible for an outsider to master.

In this demi-monde, the name of Arthur Koestler, who was born in Budapest on Sept. 5, 1905, would be pre-eminent. He is remembered today for his milestone novel Darkness at Noon and for his co-editing of the great anti-Stalinist collection of essays by disillusioned intellectuals The God That Failed. But he also wrote an imperishable series of memoirs relating his adventures and experiences in the Soviet Union, the Spanish Civil War, the partition of Palestine (where he lived briefly) in 1947/8, and the intellectual combats that defined the Cold War from its inception.

More here.