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September 5: Arthur Koestler

September 5, 2014

imagesNovelist and journalist Arthur Koestler, whose disillusionment with Stalinism led him to produce some of the most compelling anti-Communist writings — including Darkness at Noon, a 1940 novel that gained him international fame — was born in Budapest on this date in 1905. He was a member of the Communist Party in Germany from 1931 to 1938, during which time he fought in the Spanish Civil War and was interned in Nazi-occupied France. In the 1950s, Koestler helped to create the Congress for Cultural Freedom with Mel Lasky and Sidney Hook; in the 1960s, he took LSD with Timothy Leary. Koestler wrote some forty books, on subjects ranging from science and philosophy to mysticism and synchronicity (meaningful coincidence). He was fluent in Hungarian, German, French, and English, competent in Russian, and became comfortable enough in Hebrew while living in Palestine to create the world’s first Hebrew crossword puzzle. In 1983, he and his wife of thirty-four years, Cynthia Jefferies, committed suicide together, primarily in response to Koestler’s worsening Parkinson’s Disease and leukemia.

“Nothing is more sad than the death of an illusion.” —Arthur Koestler