This splendid novel is set in the tumultuous Soviet Union of the 1930s during the treason trials. Rubashov, the protagonist and a hero of the revolution, is arrested and jailed for things he has not done, though there is much about the current Soviet state that veered from his ideals as a revolutionary. His investigators, Ivanov and Gletkin, seek a public confession and interrogate him using a number of methods. Through the ordeal, Rubashov reaches an epiphany or two while his interrogators suffer the cruel fate of the Soviet machine. Darkness at Noon succeeds as political/historical novel, but even more so as a refreshing tale of the human spirit.
The central figure, Rubashov, is a revolutionista communist. But, now it is his turn in the pit. He has displeased someone. Well, what should he have expected? This is his ordeal: to rewrite history; to right his wrongs against the party. As I read this, I reflect back to Kafkas The Trial, in which the central character is interrogated, imprisoned, and tried without ever being informed as to the nature of the charges against him. You have read of all of this before; you will read it again in the works of Isaac Singer. As do Kafka and Singer, Koestler will make you will feel all of the tedium and frustration of the hearing processthe inquisition to reinvent the truth.
This book stands as an unequaled fictional portrayal of the nightmare politics of our time. Its hero is an aging revolutionary, imprisoned and psychologically tortured by the Party to which he has decicated his life. As the pressure to confess proposterous crimes increases, he re-lives a career that imbodies the terrible ironies and human betrayals of a totalitarian movement masking itself as an instrument of deliverance. Almost unbearably vivid in its depiction of one man's solitary agony, DARKNESS AT NOON, asks questions about ends and means that have relevance not only for the past but for the perilous present. It is-as the TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT-has declared "A remarkable book, a grimly fascinating interpetation of the logic of the Russian Revolution, indeed of all revolutionary dictatorships, and at the same time a tense and subtly intellecturalized drama..."
..taken from the back cover of the book