Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon, inspired by the Moscow show-trials of 1936-38, is one of the most important novels of the twentieth-century. Koestler originally wrote Darkness in German while he was living in Paris, supposedly between 1938 and 1939. It was translated into English by Daphne Hardy, an English sculptor Koestler was involved with at the time. Hardy’s translation was published in 1941, but Koestler’s German original was lost. When Darkness was later published in German, it was a back-translation from the English version.
Last month, however, the long-lost German original finally turned up in the Zurich Central Library. The text found was a typescript, with Koestler’s hand-written corrections on it, dated March 1940. The original German text is big news indeed. Darkness has been grossly under-estimated in German literature, partly because of the fact that the only edition available until now was a back-translation, partly because of its status as a central anti-Stalinist work. New and interesting work should come from this soon.