The Spiro Ark's Centre, 25-26 Enford Street W1H
020 7723 9991
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Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) born in Budapest, after leaving Hungary for Vienna with his family at the age of fourteen, was educated at Vienna University and became a journalist in Berlin. His early enthusiasm took him to Palestine as a Zionist; to the Soviet Union as a Communist and to the Spanish Civil War as a passionate reporter, in 1940 he came to England where he settled for the rest of his life.
He enjoyed the enormous success, and influence, of Darkness at Noon, the book that assured him a place in literary and political history: an assault on Communism - the god that failed him. His later books dealt with anthropology, philosophy and were describing his own life.
In 1976 Koestler published The Thirteenth Tribe, a speculative work of historiography which suggested that the greater part of modern Jewry - the Askenazim, is ethnically Caucasian rather than Semitic, being descended from the Khazars, a Turkish-speaking people along the lower Volga who were converted to Judaism in the eight century of the Christian era. His theses was greeted with less than universal enthusiasm.
It was a striking characteristic of the Khazars that their ruling class apparently adopted Judaism. But how true is the theory that the Judaized Khazars were the remote ancestors of many of the Jews of Eastern Europe and Russia?
Arthur Kessler and his wife ended their lives together.
Mátyás Sárközi is a Hungarian writer, an expert on Arthur Koestler's life and works. The speaker came to Britain in 1956 and worked in the BBC' Hungarian Section for forty years. He published sixteen books in Hungarian and two in English, including The Play's the Thing.The Life of Ferenc Molnár, a biography of the the author's maternal grandfather.