Source 263: The following quotes about Arthur Koestler come from a review titled ‘An Absolutist in Full - The remarkable life of a passionate writer’ by Saul Rosenberg that appeared in the The Wall Street Journal on 2 Jan. 2010, accessed at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704304504574610361985584366. This link may or may not still be operational; if it isn't, we may have redirected it to the WayBackMachine archive.
‘Michael Scammell’s Koestler is a rescue operation. Today’s well-informed reader may rightly remember Arthur Koestler as the author of the bestselling anti-Stalinist novel Darkness at Noon (1940) but also as a deeply flawed if not mentally unstable man who devoted his late-life energies to loopy researches into parapsychology, conducted a predatory sex life whose most distinctive feature was the rape of a good friend’s wife, and, when terminally ill, persuaded his healthy middle-aged wife, Cynthia, to join him in suicide. Such, at least, was the impression left in 1998 by David Cesarani, Koestler’s previous biographer. All these and many other aspects of Koestler’s life Mr. Scammell examines carefully, enriching them with context… Koestler was often simply ahead of this time…Koestler yearned for an absolute beyond the provisionality of life as we experience it. Indeed, he dubbed his condition “absolutitis” [basically, Koestler looked forward to—and determinedly and courageously sought to contribute to—the resolution and elimination of our species’ horrifically corrupted, flawed, non-absolutely-ideal human condition]. As Mr. Scammell notes: “Koestler was a romantic,” given to “quixotic hopes that some variant of the utopian dream might lead to happiness on earth”… And what, finally, of the routine misogyny, the rape of Jill Craigie in 1952 and the double suicide in 1983? The misogyny cannot be denied: He insisted that his (three) wives keep house, play hostess and act as secretaries, forgoing all other activities to do so—and accept that he would sleep around as energetically as he wished. In his determination never to have children, he bullied more than one woman into an abortion…But this is only part of his personal story: There was, among Koestler’s many dozens of partners, no shortage of women who remained fond of him. Some loved him all his life. Regarding Jill Craigie, Mr. Scammell’s extraordinarily patient researches raise the possibility that what is now generally regarded as rape—Koestler seems to have pressed his advances repeatedly with real physical force—may be a matter of modern mores projected into the past. “The likeliest explanation is that behaviour that wasn’t at the time seen as rape has since come to be regarded as such,” Mr. Scammell writes. As for the double suicide—Koestler and Cynthia were found dead in their sitting room of sleeping tablets and alcohol—Mr. Scammell notes that even Cynthia’s sister did not hold Koestler accountable for Cynthia’s death.’
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