Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Koestler and Jabotinsky, Again

From this book review article, Yesterday's Man? by Anne Applebaum on the book "Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic" by Michael Scammell

...He began his education in the twilight of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, at an experimental kindergarten in Budapest. His mother was briefly a patient of Sigmund Freud's. In interwar Vienna he wound up as the personal secretary of Vladimir Jabotinsky, one of the early leaders of the Zionist movement...

...It is difficult, in other words, to think of a single important twentieth-century intellectual who did not cross paths with Arthur Koestler, or a single important twentieth-century intellectual movement that Koestler did not either join or oppose. From progressive education and Freudian psychoanalysis through Zionism, communism, and existentialism to psychedelic drugs, parapsychology, and euthanasia, Koestler was fascinated by every philosophical fad, serious and unserious, political and apolitical, of his era.

Nor were these shallow passions. His belief in communism led him to fight in Spain and travel in the USSR. His Zionism led him to a kibbutz near Haifa. At different times, he advocated the use of violence, whether to bring about a Communist utopia or to create the state of Israel. Even when he turned against his previous causes (and against his previous friends who still believed in them) he did so with real fervor....His involvement with Revisionist Zionism is also probably less well known than The Thirteenth Tribe, a book that argues that modern European Jews are descended from the Central Asian Khazars, and not from the Jews who lived in the Palestine of antiquity—a thesis which, whatever its merits, is hugely popular among the enemies of Zionism...

Koestler was equally likely to succumb to extreme passions in his personal life—notoriously so. He was variously in thrall to Jabotinsky,


Again?

Yes. Here. And here.