Arthur Koestler

Arthur Koestler , born Artúr Kösztler ( [ɒɾtuːɾ] , [køstlɛɾ] ) onIn Budapest and died on1 in London , is a novelist , journalist and essayist Hungarian , naturalized British .


Arthur Koestler was born into a family Hungarian Jewish Ashkenazi and German . He is the son of Henrik Koestler, a prosperous industrialist and inventor whose great commercial success had been the soap of health, in which animal fats difficult to find during the First World War were replaced by low-level mineral substances . It was thought at that time that radioactivity had curative properties.

Between 1922 and 1926 , Arthur Koestler studied engineering at the Polytechnic School of Vienna .

Arthur Koestler studied philosophy and literature at the University of Vienna at the same time . He is a member of one of the Jewish student associations, Unitas, and is familiar with Judaism. He met Vladimir Jabotinsky and adheres to the cause Zionist revisionist who wants to create in Palestine a Jewish state modern and democratic. Koestler becomes the youngest president of the Zionist student associations and the co-founder of the Betar (revisionist Zionist youth movement). In parallel to his studies, he searched psychoanalysis , reading Freud as well as dissident schools, Jung , Adler , Stekel .

The 1 st April 1926 he abandoned his studies and went to Palestine as a simple khaluts (pioneer or agricultural worker in a kvutsa smaller community that the kibbutz ). His experience does not last long; His book La Tour d’Ezra , is inspired by it. He left for Haifa, where, with Abram Wienshall , he created Zafon (weekly in Hebrew), as well as Sehutenu [ Our Right ], which is the civil rights league, providing legal assistance to Jews. He entered the German Communist Party in 1931 and left in 1938 , due to the Moscow trials . He made several visits to the Soviet Union during this period.

Covering the Spanish war for an English newspaper, he was imprisoned and sentenced to death by the Francoists , but was exchanged some time later against a Spanish prisoner by the British government. From this episode was born the book Spanish Un Testament , which is first published in English by the publisher Gollancz. The success of this testimony led to translations of the book. It is thus that this exceptional testimony is published without a change of title in French. But, curiously, the French edition, without any reason being given, does not include the whole of the English text.

During the ” funny war “, Arthur Koestler covers the situation in France, but is then interned in the camp of Vernet by the French authorities. He enters the Foreign Legion , changes his identity, leaves the ranks of the Legion without authorization and joins London . The autobiographical book La Lie de la terre is entirely devoted to this French period. In 1940 he published Darkness at Noon , translated in 1945 as The Zero and the Infinite . This text, which foreshadows the story twenty years The Confession of Artur London , described the imprisonment, the Stalinist trial and execution of a top Soviet official. This decoding of Stalinism naturally won him many enmities among French Left intellectuals ( Simone de Beauvoir in particular). Francine Bloch is one of the very few communist sympathizers who defend the work and the man.

Having applied to join the British Army and served for a year in the Royal Pioneer Corps  (in) , he was assigned in March 1942 to design programs and propaganda films at the Ministry of Information. In this context, he meets Jan Karski and reads in the BBC in May 1943 the text written by Karski for radio: “The mass extermination of the Jews – Report of an eyewitness”.

After the war, Koestler, who won international fame, is obviously fascinated by the creation of the State of Israel, he describes creation in a big way in the analysis of a Miracle 2 .

In the early days of the Cold War, Arthur Koestler served the anti-communist propaganda carried out by the British intelligence services . He is one of the most important advisers of the Information Research Department when it was established in 1948 and is a member of the Congress for the Freedom of Culture . Arthur Koestler was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1972.

In 1976, in search of his origins, he wrote The Thirteenth Tribe , the first book that disputes the thesis of the expulsion of Jews from Palestine by the Romans and which suggests a massive conversion of non-Jews by Jewish preachers, in Eastern Europe ( Khazar kingdom ) and in North Africa ( Kabylie ). Koestler’s ideas were repeated thirty years later by the Israeli historian Shlomo Sand in How the Jewish People was invented .

He became interested in parapsychology as early as the 1950s, and became a member of the Society for Psychical Research . This concern is reflected in his works The Toad of the Toad (1971), The Racines of Chance (1972) and the novel Les Call-girls (1972). He made a legacy at the University of Edinburgh for the foundation of a research unit in this field.

In 1979, he was a member of the honor committee of the Nouvelle École , linked to the Nouvelle Droite . With Parkinson’s disease and leukemia , he ended his life by taking medication in 1983 , together with his third wife Cynthia. He had long advocated voluntary euthanasia and in 1981 had become vice president of ” Exit  (en) “. His will provided for the creation of the chair of parapsychology at the University of Edinburgh , which was inaugurated a year later.

The Encyclopædia Britannica is indebted to him for many articles [ref. Required] .



  • Arthur Koestler , To the cat laughing [“Wie ein Mangobaumwunder”],
  • Arthur Koestler , Spartacus [“The Gladiators”], Calmann-Levy,( 1 st  ed. 1939) ( ISBN  2702108954 )
  • Arthur Koestler , The Zero and the Infinite [“Darkness at Noon”], Calmann-Levy,( 1 st  ed. 1945) ( ISBN  2702135625 )
  • Arthur Koestler , Crusade without cross [ “Arrival and Departure”], Calmann-Levy,( 1 st  ed. 1943) ( ISBN  2702135676 )
  • Arthur Koestler , The Tower of Ezra [“Thieves in the Night”],
  • Arthur Koestler , Men Thirsty [“The Age of Longing”],
  • Arthur Koestler , The Call Girls [ “The Call Girls”]
  • Arthur Koestler , The Tribulations of Comrade Lepiaf, “Calmann-Levy,” “Die Erlebnisse des Genossen Piepvogel in der Emigration”( 1 st  ed. 1934) ( ISBN  9782702158708 )


  • Arthur Koestler , The Twilight Bar , a four-act melancholic buffoonery , “Éditions Aimery Somogy,


  • Arthur Koestler , The Yogi and the Commissioner [“The Yogi and the Commissar and other essays”],
  • Arthur Koestler and Albert Camus (collab.), Reflections on capital punishment, Paris, Gallimard, coll.  “Folio”( 1 st  ed. 1955) ( ISBN  2070418464 )
  • Arthur Koestler , The Somnambulists: an essay on the history of conceptions of the Universe , Paris, Calmann-Levy, “The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man’s Changing Vision of the Universe,( 1 st  ed. 1959)
  • Arthur Koestler , The Cry of Archimedes: The Art of Discovery and the Discovery of Art [“The Act of creation”],
  • Arthur Koestler , The Horse in the locomotive [ “The ghost in the machine”]
  • Arthur Koestler , Embrace of the toad [ “The case of the midwife toad”]
    An account of Paul Kammerer’s research on lamarckism and “coincidences in series”
  • Arthur Koestler , The Roots of chance [ “The roots of coincidence”]
    Suite of The Toad Hug
  • ( By ) Arthur Koestler , “Anecdotal cases” in Arthur Koestler (with Alister Hardy and Robert Harvie), The Challenge of Chance: A Mass Experiment in Telepathy and Its Unexpected Outcome ,
  • ( By ) Arthur Koestler , “Speculations were problems beyond our present understanding” in Arthur Koestler (with Alister Hardy and Robert Harvie), The Challenge of Chance: A Mass Experiment in Telepathy and Its Unexpected Outcome ,
  • Arthur Koestler , The Thirteenth Tribe: The Khazar Empire and its Legacy ,( 1 st  ed. 1976) ( ISBN  2266031279 )
    Related article: Khazars .
  • Arthur Koestler , Janus [“Janus: A Summing Up”], Calmann-Levy,( 1 st  ed. , 1978) ( ISBN  2702102875 )
    The sequel to The Horse in the Locomotive
  • Arthur Koestler , The Pulse towards Self-Destruction , Editions de l’Herne , ( ISBN  2851976516 )
  • Arthur Koestler , Analysis of a Miracle , Circé, coll.  “Pocket” ( ISBN  2842420632 )


  • Arthur Koestler , A Spanish Testament [ “Spanish Testament, Dialogue with death”]
  • Arthur Koestler , The Scum of the Earth,
    Narrative of the persecutions of the French government against foreigners, in 1939-1940.
  • Arthur Koestler , Ignazio Silone , Richard Wright , Andre Gide , L. Fischer , Stephen Spender and Richard Crossman ( ed. ), The God of Darkness ,
  • Arthur Koestler , The Arrow Rope [“Arrow in the blue”],
  • Arthur Koestler , Hieroglyphics [“The invisible writing”],
  • Arthur & Cynthia Koestler , The Stranger on the Square,
  • Arthur Koestler and Phil Casoar (edited by), Autobiographical Works: The Stringed Rope, Hieroglyphics, Dialogue with Death, The Lie of the Earth, The Stranger of the Square , Paris, Robert Laffont, coll.  “Books,


  • Fred Uhlman ( trans. Leo Lack, pref. Arthur Koestler), L’Ami found , Gallimard, coll.  “Folio”, 128 p. ( ISBN  978-2070374632 )


By chronological order of publication:

  • ( In ) J. Atkins , Arthur Koestler ,
  • P. Debray-Ritzen (ed.), Book Koestler , Paris, Éditions de l’Herne, Cahiers de l’Herne ( n o 27), 468 p. ( ISBN  9782851970213 , online presentation  [ archive ] )
  • ( In ) SA Pearson , Arthur Koestler , ( ISBN  0-8057-6699-5 )
  • ( In ) Iain Hamilton , Koestler: A Biography , ( ISBN  0-02-547660-2 )
  • ( In ) George Mikes, Arthur Koestler: The Story of a Friendship , London, André Deutsch , ( ISBN  0-233-97612-4 )
  • ( In ) Mr Levene , Arthur Koestler , ( ISBN  0-8044-6412-X )
  • Mamaine Koestler , Living with Koestler: Mamaine Koestler’s Letters 1945-51 , ( ISBN  0312490291 )
  • ( In ) David Cesarani , Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind , ( ISBN  0-684-86720-6 ).
  • ( De ) Christian G. Buckard , Arthur Koestler: Ein extremes Leben 1905-1983 , ( ISBN  3406521770 )
  • Michel Laval , The man without concessions. Arthur Koestler and his century , Paris, Calmann-Levy, ( ISBN  2702135668 )
  • ( In ) Martin Mauthner , German Writers in French Exile, 1933-1940 , London, ( ISBN  9780853035404 )
  • ( In ) Michael Scammell , Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic , ( ISBN  9780394576305 )
  • Hanania Alain AMAR , Arthur Koestler, anti-tumor rage , Paris, L’Harmattan,, 122 p. ( ISBN  978-2-296-54798-8 )
  • Hanania Alain Amar, The Great Debate: dramatic fantasy imagining a meeting Freud / Koestler ,