Stranger on the Square by Arthur & Cynthia Koestler (introduction by Harold Harris) - review by Antony Beevor

Antony Beevor

Fortress Koestler

Stranger on the Square


Hutchinson 236pp £9.95 order from our bookshop

Last year on March 3rd the bodies of Arthur and Cynthia Koestler were found in their house in Montpelier Square. Koestler's membership of Exit was well known. His belief in voluntary euthanasia can be traced back to the way he overcame the terror of an operation in childhood. He described in Arrow in the Blue how he insisted on holding the ether mask over his own face. 'In this way I would feel that I was in control of the situation, and that the terrible moment of helplessness would not recur.'

It was the double suicide which affected the imagination, but in all the articles at the time I saw no reference to either von Kleist's suicide pact with Henriette Vogel, or to that of Stefan Zweig with his wife in Brazil in 1942. Although Zweig and Koestler were both Jews

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