What a nut case! Is that a requirement to write great literature? A bit off-center? Are they so smart that they do not or cannot understand societal norms? I skipped an author so maybe Joseph Heller was normal but statistically it is improbable. Mr. Koestler is quite the interesting fellow; I must admit I do not think I would have enjoyed his company. First, he was two weeks from finishing his degree in engineering and quit. He burned his matriculation book – a book recording all his courses and exams over the years to prove he was completed with college. So he did not just quit he torched his college career and headed to Palestine.
He had various jobs all involving writing of some sort. In Spanish Civil War, he was captured and sentenced to death. Koestler is the one and only novelist to sit on death row. He was released and quickly moved to France. In France, he resigned from the communist party and began the writing of Darkness at Noon. It is his experiences in prison and disillusionment with the communist party that bore the fruit of this famous novel. Another interesting tidbit, while in France Koestler co-authored a sex encyclopedia!
Koestler was interested in all sorts of ‘scientific’ endeavors. He experimented with drugs for scientific reasons yet did not like it. Later in his life he was into research of the paranormal and psychic abilities. He lobbied England to repeal the law to allow public hanging. (He was happy when the public hanging law was repealed in the 1970’s).
A passion Koestler had until his death was the right to assisted suicide or euthanasia serving as the Vice President of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society. When he learned he had terminal cancer, he planned to end his own life vice suffering. On March 1, 1983, Koestler and his wife, Cynthia, committed joint suicide. Cynthia was in excellent health and left a letter that she could not continue life without Koestler.
As I said, a nut case. I am beginning to think that all these powerful writers are a bit off-center. They all had strange quirks. Or maybe it is they view the world through a different lens. Either way – the product is fantastic literature.
Come everyone, Grab a book, Any book and READ!