To write a single book of true literary merit and enduring influence is no small accomplishment. Biographer Michael Scammell sees value in works by Arthur Koestler other than Darkness at Noon – mostly because of their prescience on politics – but it’s really because of that novel that anyone knows Koestler’s name.
And it’s impossible to consider Koestler’s work, life and legacy without invoking the names of other giants of twentieth-century literature, as I demonstrate in a Logos essay. Orwell, Camus, Conrad, Auden, Sartre and Hemingway, among others, factor into his story – and not always in exclusively literary ways.
Koestler sometimes vacillated on the core principle of his best writing – that ends do not justify means – but Darkness at Noon expresses it superbly and powerfully. Paul Berman sensibly groups Koestler with Orwell and Camus, whom he deems the best writers on totalitarian themes of their era. That trio still has few rivals.