Second Essay Assignment

The Original Trial of Nicholas Salmanovich Rubashov


You have been digging in Arthur Koestler’s personal archives and make an astonishing discovery.  You have found Koestler’s original outline for Darkness at Noon, and it is not at all like the final version of the book.  For one thing, in the outline, Rubashov is arrested for “crimes committed against the true spirit of communism” shortly after the suicide of Little Loewy.  There is no second journey to prison, and hence no Ivanov, no Gletkin.  Second, the outline is unfinished, and breaks off before the verdict is rendered against Rubashov.

The pivotal courtroom scene is structured like this:

Prosecutor:  “Your Honor, the state charges N. S. Rubashov with complicity in the death of Little Loewy, a.k.a. ‘the Cat and Bark Eater.’  Comrade Rubashov knew all along what it meant to do the right thing in moving our movement forward and instead chose to violate the true spirit of communism.”

Defense Attorney:  “No, Your Honor, my esteemed colleague is completely wrong.  Rubashov correctly interpreted the requisites of moving forward to communism.  Accordingly, his expectations of Little Loewy were completely appropriate.”

Since Koestler is long gone, you have the chance to end the draft outline exactly as you see fit.  Which of the two sides do you choose and why?


Assignment. Please respond to this question with one cohesive argument. Your essay should accomplish three objectives: 1) It should unequivocally state which position you support; 2) It should indicate what each position is about; and 3) It should clearly explain why you are choosing one position over the other.  NOTE:  your goal is to persuade the judge that you are right.  The other attorney is wrong.  Don’t worry:  I have no particular axe to grind with Koestler!
Remember: You are writing one paper, not two. Thus, answer this question and not some other question that you wish I had asked. Keep counterarguments in mind the entire time you are writing. Use evidence from your readings.  Be concise and to the point. Be Orwell!

Requirements. Your essay should be no more than 5 typed, double-spaced pages (12 point font and regular margins) of incisive reasoning. It should have a carefully-chosen title.

Based upon our discussion about the challenges of great writing, I suggest that you begin this essay immediately. Then, put it aside.  Then, return to it and revise it.  And so on.  Would it be too much for me to request that you compose the five, best pages of prose that you have ever written in your life—i.e. even better than your first essay?

Your essay is due next Monday, April 11, by 9:00 a.m. Please email your response to me at You are responsible for getting your paper to me on time.

Good luck!