Don’t retire this book! Although Arthur Koestler’s The Age of Longing was published in 1951 – officially making it 65 this year – it’s far too invigoratingly fresh to remove from the anti-Marxist workforce. In fact, the message delivered by Koestler in this novel couldn’t be more relevant than in our contemporary political environment.
Koestler’s penultimate endeavor in literary fiction and the final entry in his quartet of political novels on the inherent dangers of collectivism, The Age of Longing revisits the religious theme prevalent in the author’s first novel, The Gladiators, but subdued or nonexistent in Darkness at Noon and Arrival and Departure. A fifth novel, 1946’s Thieves in the Night, details the political landscape of post-World War II Palestine, which falls outside the convenient rubric of the present conversation – as does The Call Girls, a novel he wrote and published 22 years after The Age of Longing.
Compared to his previous novels and works of journalism, The Age of Longing received short-shrift upon its publication. Since then, it has been granted only brief critical consideration – if at all, considering it’s the only Koestler novel not granted its own Wikipedia entry. This is unfortunate, as this novel-of-ideas is a corker, positing the only salvation of humanity from the allure of collectivism is religious faith. (more…)