Thieves in the Night, by Arthur Koestler
Taken as a piece of analytical reporting on Palestine and as comment on the fate of the Jews, Koestler’s new book is significant and wonderfully readable. Taken as a novel, however, it is not good, and that for simple and even obvious reasons.
The truth is that Koestler has very little real feeling for existence as texture and pattern or for his characters as human beings over and above their assigned roles and settings. Hence as a literary artist he is able to create an air of reality but scarcely the conviction of it. It is mostly the historic Zeitgeist, rather than the irreducible data of the actual behind or beyond it, that engages his imagination. As a novelist he generalizes far more aptly—and with more speed and daring—than he is able to particularize, whereas the medium of fiction demands that an author earn the right to launch generalizations precisely through his capacity to back them up by means of particulars imaginatively conceived and so presented as to brace and enhance our sense of reality.
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