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Book Title: Stranger on the Square|
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The author of the book: Arthur Koestler
Edition: Hutchinson & Company Ltd. (London)
Date of issue: February 20th 1984
ISBN 13: 9780091543303
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.80 MB
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This volume is Harold Harris' attempt to bring the autobiographical writings of Arthur Koestler up to date by using fragments from his papers and those of his last wife, Cynthia Jefferies Koestler, both of whom killed themselves in 1983. The actual reconstruction only goes to 1956 and one suspects there is a great deal of censorship, both on the part of Harris, a friend of theirs, and on the part of Cynthia, who was personally prudish but amazingly acceptant of her husband's excesses.
The first part of the book interleaves entries by Arthur and Cynthia and is certainly the most interesting as it sometimes provides two perspectives on single events. Covering 1940-51, it precedes their marriage, maybe even their first consumation of the affair that became their marriage in 1965. Also, although Cynthia writes well, it is Arthur's writing that is the more interesting as he writes of the world while she writes of him and only of the world as it affects him.
The second part of the book covers 1951-56 from Cynthia's perspective. She obviously doted on the irascible Arthur and barely mentions her own life (she herself married and divorced during a separation, but her first husband is barely mentioned) or feelings except in terms of Arthur, his feelings and his actions.
In the end, the book becomes almost painful to read. However interesting Arthur's writing, his behavior as described by Cynthia was pathological. The various diagnoses which passed through my mind while reading her descriptions of him include bipolarity, narcissism and sexual addiction. While he was an interesting conversationalist from across a dinner table and may have been able to function well in a men's prison (he was in several), he was not someone a fellow would want any female friend or relative to get close to. Not only did he irresponsibly father at least one child he never took an interest in, not only did he impregnate Cynthia at least twice, leaving her to arrange for illegal abortions, but he also insinuated his way from one bed to another with little regard for the feelings of others or the responsibilities entailed by such intimacies in our culture. Furthermore, for such an educated and supposedly intelligent man, it is appalling to see how his glands dominated his brain as he moved, again and again, from one infatuation to another without apparently learning anything about the relationship of sex to love.
While Arthur bordered on the sociopathic so far as his relations with nubile females went, Cynthia comes across as extremely neurotic, pathetically undervaluing herself while overvaluing him on the one hand, while writing a damning indictment of him in the process of extolling him on the other.
In the end, nearing eighty, suffering from Parkinson's, Arthur Koestler took an overdose of barbiturates. It is sad, very sad, that Cynthia, only fifty-five at the time and in good health, followed suit, but it is not surprising.
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Read information about the authorArthur Koestler CBE [*Kösztler Artúr] was a prolific writer of essays, novels and autobiographies.
He was born into a Hungarian Jewish family in Budapest but, apart from his early school years, was educated in Austria. His early career was in journalism. In 1931 he joined the Communist Party of Germany but, disillusioned, he resigned from it in 1938 and in 1940 published a devastating anti-Communist novel, Darkness at Noon, which propelled him to instant international fame.
Over the next forty-three years he espoused many causes, wrote novels and biographies, and numerous essays. In 1968 he was awarded the prestigious and valuable Sonning Prize "For outstanding contribution to European culture", and in 1972 he was made a "Commander of the British Empire" (CBE).
In 1976 he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and three years later with leukaemia in its terminal stages. He committed suicide in 1983 in London.
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