Darkness at Noon By: Tasneem Qameruddin Darkness at Noon is a novel by a British novelist Arthur Koestler, first published in 1940. It is a tale about the life and death of a revolutionary leader, Nicolai Salmonovich Rubashov, told as he is arrested, imprisoned, and accused for treason against the government. The novel details the infamous Mascow Show Trails conducted during the reign of Joseph Stalin where it features repeated interrogations of Rubashov by his two prosecutors-Ivanov (former colleague of Rubashov), and Gletkin (a young party member). The novel is written as a series of three trials which are shown to implicate Rubashov for his counter revolutionary activities while the remaining incidents are depicted through flashback and dreams Rubashov experiences during his time spent in prison. In the beginning of the novel, Koestler does not specify the identity of the country but he describes the character Number 1 to be a fictionalized version of Joseph Stalin who is obviously part of the Russian Soviet Union. Following the death of Lenin in 1924, Stalin had emerged as the leader of the Soviet Union. When the Soviet economy failed as massive food and consumer shortages plagued the Soviet people, Stalin ordered the government to confiscate all grain crops from Soviet peasants to increase trade exports. Farmers who achieved more income became “class enemies” and they suffered terribly under Stalin’s regime. Millions of individuals died of starvation which increased criticism within the Communist Party towards their leader, Stalin. In response, Stalin formed his secret police whose job was to seek out and arrest people who speaks against the party. Many members of the Communist party who posed any threat to his control were banished to prison camps. The rush of terror began after the assassination of Sergei Kirov, who intended to replace Stalin as its party leader. It was evident that orders from Stalin dictated
the head of the Soviet secret police towards Kirov’s assassination. As a result, thousands were accused of the following act and increased Stalin’s technique for intensifying the effort to cleanse the Communist Party. In the book, Darkness of Noon, the character of Gletkin is referred to the personality of Stalin himself, whereas Rubashov is referred to Lenin. Lenin and Stalin views in governing the Soviet Union were very different. During Lenin’s regime, he believed that it was important for individuals to function as a collective moral union of progression. In Lenin’s vision the importance of working together was thought to push the country forward towards a good end.