“He Is Not English, He Is Not a Novelist; And How Far Is He Even Likeable?” On the Critical Reception of Arthur Koestler’s Thieves in the Night

  • Zénó Vernyik English Department Faculty of Science, Humanities and Education Technical University of Liberec


This paper deals with the immediate critical reception of Arthur Koestler’s Thieves in the Night (1946). Through a comparative analysis of reviews published at the time of the book’s appearance, it aims to show that the said reception was in many cases neither fair, nor focused on the book’s literary values. More specifically, in comparing the novel’s American reception with its British counterpart, and focusing on the various fallacies and biases, predominantly in the latter, this work aims to draw attention to the fact that the present-day obscurity of this commercially successful novel might be due, at least partially, to the often angered and biased reaction to the topic of the book, and its explicit criticism of British foreign policy, rather than a result of the book’s qualities themselves.Keywords: Arthur Koestler; reception; foreign policy; Palestine; 1946

Author Biography

Zénó Vernyik, English Department Faculty of Science, Humanities and Education Technical University of Liberec
Zénó Vernyik graduated from the University of Szeged and Masaryk University and holds a PhD in Comparative Literature. He is an Assistant Professor in the English Department of the Technical University of Liberec, Czech Republic. His primary research interests are the oeuvre of British writers of Hungarian origin (primarily Arthur Koestler and George Mikes), modern and contemporary American and British literature, spatial theory, and the representation of cities in literature. He has also published articles on Australian cinema and Belgian literature.


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