20th Century Man: Arthur Koestler
S 2017

Arthur Koestler, his life and his writings, embodied the turbulent 20th Century.   We will follow the 20th Century unfolding when reading about Koestler and studying his writings.  Koestler’s life was packed with intrigue.  An early sympathizer of the Russian revolution, Koestler rejected Stalin, writing the seminal novel Darkness at Noon.  A Zionist in the 20’s and 30’s, he lived in Palestine, supporting the advent of a Jewish state, and ended his Zionist activities just as Israel became a country.  In Spain during the Civil War he was a journalist, sentenced to death by Franco’s Regime.   During WWII he spent time in a French prison, later escaping via Lisbon to England where he was again in prison until pressed into war service.  After WWII he was, to his chagrin, courted by the CIA as an anti-Communist leftist. A journalist, a writer on many subjects, fluent in many languages (writing the first crossword puzzle in Hebrew), a gadfly, an intellectual, a notorious womanizer: he was a remarkable man who lived the dangers and wonders of the 20th Century, and in our SDG we will follow that history along with his life story.  The basis of our SDG is a recent, award winning, biography that highlights the history, and we’ll read three of Koestler’s varied writings.