Emil M. Cioran

Author of De l'inconvénient d'être né

Emil M. Cioran

832 Quotes

Born in 1911 in R??inari, a small village in Romania's Carpathian Mountains, raised under the rule of a father who was an orthodox Romanian priest and a mother prone to depression, Emil Cioran wrote his first five Romanian books. Some of these are short essay collections (on average one or two pages); others are aphorism collections. The young Cioran, who had suffered from insomnia since his teenage years in Sibiu, studied philosophy in Bucharest... 's "little Paris." A prolific publicist, he became a well-known figure, along with Mircea Eliade, Constantin Noïca, and his future close friend Eugene Ionesco (with whom he shared the Young Writers Prize of the Royal Foundation in 1934 for his first book, On the Heights of Despair). Influenced by the German Romantics, by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and the Life Philosophy of Schelling and Bergson, by certain Russian writers, including Chestov, Rozanov, and Dostoyevsky, and by the Romanian poet Eminescu, Cioran wrote lyrical and expansive meditations that were often metaphysical in nature and whose recurring themes were death, despair, loneliness, history, music, holiness, and the like. In his highly controversial book The Transfiguration of Romania (1937), Cioran, who at that time was close to the Romanian fascists, violently criticized his country and his compatriots on the basis of a contrast between "small nations" like Romania, which were contemptible from the point of view of universal history, and great nations like France or Germany, which took their destiny into their own hands. Cioran arrived in Paris in 1936, after spending two years in Germany. He continued writing in Romanian until the early 1940s (he wrote his last Romanian article in 1943, which is also the year he started writing in French). The break with Romanian became definitive in 1946, when he suddenly decided to give up his native tongue, as no one spoke it in Paris, during the course of translating Mallarmé. He then began to write a book in French that, thanks to numerous intensive revisions, would eventually become the impressive A Short History of Decay (1949) — the first of a series of ten books in which Cioran would continue to explore his perennial obsessions, with a growing detachment that allies him equally with the Greek sophists, the French moralists, and the Oriental sages. In a classical French style, he wrote existential vituperations and other destructive reflections which he felt were diametrically opposed to the looseness of his native Romanian; he described it as a "straight-jacket" which required him to control his temperamental excesses and lyrical flights. The books in which he expressed his radical disappointment appeared with decreasing frequency over a period of more than three decades, during which time he shared his solitude with his companion Simone Boué in a miniscule garret in the center of Paris, where he lived more and more as a spectator turned in on himself and maintained an ever greater distance from a world he rejected. Denied the right to return to Romania during the communist regime's years, Cioran died in Paris in 1995, attracting international attention only late in his career. Thomas Cousineau's translation of Nicolas CavaillèsREAD MORE

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the deepest subjective experiences are also the most universal, because through them one reaches the universal source of life.

Suffering makes you live time in detail, moment after moment. Which is to say that it exists for you: over the others, the ones who don't suffer, time flows, so that they don't live in time, in fact they never have.

To accomplish nothing and die of the strain

Shame on the man who goes to his grave escorted by the miserable hopes that have kept him alive.

A zoologist who observed gorillas in their native habitat was amazed by the uniformity of their life and their vast idleness. Hours and hours without doing anything. Was boredom unknown to them? This is indeed a question raised by a human, a busy ape. Far from fleeing monotony, animals crave it, and what they most dread is to see it end. For it ends, only to be replaced by fear, the cause of all activity. Inaction is divine; yet it is against inaction that man has rebelled. Man alone, in nature, is incapable of enduring monotony, man alone wants something to happen at all costs — something, anything.... Thereby he shows himself unworthy of his ancestor: the need for novelty is the characteristic of an alienated gorilla.

Consciousness is much more than the thorn, it is the dagger in the flesh.

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