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A Passion for Getting It Right

Essays and Appreciations in Honor of Michael J. Colacurcio’s 50 Years of Teaching

Edited By Carol M. Bensick

For 50 years Michael J. Colacurcio has been a leader in the criticism of early and antebellum American literature. In The Province of Piety, New Essays on The Scarlet Letter, Doctrine and Difference, and Godly Letters, as well as editions and often-reprinted reviews and essays, Dr. Colacurcio has continued to defend a rare vision of the political and intellectual depth of America’s serious fiction and the aesthetic power and charm of its religious poetry and prose. In light of many honors such as the Book of the Year Award from the Conference of Christianity and Literature and election in 2007 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, UCLA raised him to the rank of Distinguished Professor. Yet for all his dedication to research, his students know him as an unforgettable teacher, who has continued to win several teaching awards at both Cornell and UCLA. The present volume aspires to celebrate Dr. Colacurcio’s 50 years of transformative teaching through an exciting bounty of original and classic essays by some of his most talented students and eminent colleagues from his very first years at Cornell up to and including his current students at UCLA.
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Monoaxiate Tyranny in Koestler’s Darkness at Noon



In Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon (1940) ex-Commissar Nicolas Salmanovitch Rubashov entertains rebellion against Communist Party policy—most likely Stalin’s—that deviates from Bolshevik origin. Rubashov nonetheless remains faithful to core Party values—to the point of wishing to work up a “new theory on a historical basis” and of ultimately failing to move beyond the perimeters of an ideology that assures his execution: “There is nothing for which one could die, if one died without having repented and unreconciled with the Party and the Movement” (Koestler, Darkness, 178, 251). Relative to such concerns, including the novel’s attention to means and ends, commentary has faulted Koestler for having misunderstood Marxism or for having imbued Rubashov with his own “corrosive rationalism” which “obliterates ambivalence.”1 Such questionable assertion is consistent with the linking of Rubashov’s ideological self-imprisonment to “the prison-guard attitude of Koestler himself toward his literary text.” Further in this vein is the charge that Rubashov displays features of Koestler’s own “messianism.”2 From such perspectives, Koestler, despite his exposé of Communist psychology in Darkness at Noon, is also said to impose upon Rubashov the “monolithic, absolutist, ‘système clos’ mentality” of Koestler’s allegedly enduring affiliation with Communism, his avowed anti-Communism being just as doctrinaire.3 Lost in such biographical reductionism and political acrobatics is the novel’s dramatization, in Rubashov, of the difference between dyadic and monistic cognition, as specifically illustrated in one of Koestler’s later treatises, Insight and Outlook: An Inquiry Into the Common...

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