1933 - 1936 Paris
Against the nightmarish background of Nazi Germany, my doubts and misgivings about Russia paled into insignificance.
When you march in a crusade, even in a losing crusade, you are not in a mood for reflection. Reflection only set
in, with a vengeance, a few years later, when the Russian purges assumed the proportions of mass terror. But that
crisis, which would lead to my break with the Party, was still in the future.
In the meantime, Paris was the centre of the international anti-Fascist movement, in which the German Communists
in exile played a leading part. In The Invisible Writing I have described in some detail the activities in which
I was involved in this period of transition and abortive hopes: the writing of propaganda pamphlets, editing various
émigré newspapers, fund-raising for a variety of causes, liaising with French intellectuals, and
so on. As most of these jobs were unpaid, and I was still reluctant to become a professional Party bureaucrat or
apparatchik, I secured my financial independence for a while by writing, under the pen-name A. Costler, a popular-science
book on sex-one of the first of its kind, I believe, long before the genre became a commercialised industry. (Ironically,
it is the only book I wrote that was received with unanimous praise by the critics). I was paid no royalties, but
the modest flat sum I got .from the publishers enabled me to embark on an ambitious historical novel on the slave
revolt in the first century BC in Rome - The Gladiators - which eventually became the first of a trilogy of novels
on the ethics of revolution.
I was immersed in writing The Gladiators when the Spanish Civil War exploded and made the horrors of Nazi Germany
and Soviet Russia temporarily fade into the background.
The books published under the name of Dr. Costler were for Koestler an expedient to earn himself a living and allow
him to keep working on his other activities that generally brought him very little or no money at all.