, 1905-83, English writer, b. Budapest of Hungarian parents. Koestler spent his early years in Vienna and Palestine. An influential Communist journalist in Berlin in the early 1930s, Koestler was subsequently captured by Franco's forces during the Spanish Civil War; Spanish Testament
(1937) relates his experiences. Released in 1937, he edited an anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet French weekly and served in the French Foreign Legion (1939-40). After the German invasion he was interned in a concentration camp, but escaped from France in 1940 and lived thereafter in England. Koestler broke with Communism as a result of the Soviet purge trials of the late 1930s. Darkness at Noon
(1941), his most important novel, vividly describes the execution of an old Bolshevik for "deviationist" belief in the individual. Other significant accounts of the evil of Stalinism include The Yogi and the Commissar
(1945), and a famous essay in The God That Failed
(ed. by R. H. Crossman, 1951). In his later years Koestler ranged over a wide variety of subjects. His later novels include Thieves in the Night
(1946), a powerful description of the conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine, The Age of Longing
(1951), and The Call Girls: A Tragicomedy
(1973). He wrote extensively on science in such works as The Lotus and the Robot
(1960), The Act of Creation
(1964), The Ghost in the Machine
(1968), The Case of the Midwife Toad
(1971), and The Roots of Coincidence
(1972). Greatly concerned in later life with euthanasia and the right to die, Koestler and his wife committed a joint suicide in 1983. Koestler combined a brilliant journalistic style with an understanding of the great movements of his times and a participant's sense of commitment.
See his autobiography in 3 vol., Arrow in the Blue (1952), The Invisible Writing (1954), and Janus: A Summing Up (1978); biographies by D. Cesarani (1999) and M. Scammell (2009); studies by W. Mays (1973), S. Pearson (1978), and P. J. Keane (1980).
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