Emil Cioran (Romanian: [eˈmil t͡ʃoˈran] (listen); 8 April 1911 – 20 June 1995) was a Romanian philosopher and essayist, who published works in both Romanian and French. His work has been noted for its pervasive philosophical pessimism, and frequently engages with issues of suffering, decay, and nihilism. Among his best-known works are On the Heights of Despair (1934) and The Trouble with Being Born (1973). Cioran's first French book, A Short History of Decay, was awarded the prestigious Rivarol Prize in 1950. The Latin Quarter of Paris was his permanent residence and he lived much of his life in isolation with his partner Simone Boué.
Emil Mihai Cioran
8 April 1911
|Died||20 June 1995 (aged 84)|
|Suicide, nihilism, ethics, literature, aesthetics, poetry, religion, music|
Cioran was born in Resinár (Rășinari), Szeben County, which was part of Austria-Hungary at the time. His father, Emilian Cioran, was an Orthodox priest. His mother, Elvira (née Comaniciu), was originally from Veneția de Jos, a commune near Făgăraș.
After focusing on Humanities at the Gheorghe Lazăr High School in Sibiu (Hermannstadt), Cioran, at age 17, entered the University of Bucharest, where he studied philosophy and immediately met Eugène Ionesco and Mircea Eliade, who became his friends. Future Romanian philosopher Constantin Noica and future Romanian thinker Petre Țuțea became his closest academic colleagues; all three studied under Tudor Vianu and Nae Ionescu. Cioran, Eliade, and Țuțea became supporters of Ionescu's ideas, known as Trăirism.
Cioran had a good command of German. His early studies revolved around Immanuel Kant, Arthur Schopenhauer, and especially Friedrich Nietzsche. He became an agnostic, taking as an axiom "the inconvenience of existence". While at the University, he was influenced by Georg Simmel, Ludwig Klages and Martin Heidegger, but also by the Russian philosopher Lev Shestov, whose contribution to Cioran’s central system of thought was the belief that life is arbitrary. Cioran's graduation thesis was on Henri Bergson, whom he later rejected, claiming Bergson did not comprehend the tragedy of life.
In 1933, he received a scholarship to the University of Berlin, where he came into contact with Klages and Nicolai Hartmann. While in Berlin, he became interested in the policies of the Nazi regime, contributed a column to Vremea dealing with the topic (in which Cioran confessed that "there is no present-day politician that I see as more sympathetic and admirable than Hitler", while expressing his approval for the Night of the Long Knives—"what has humanity lost if the lives of a few imbeciles were taken"), and, in a letter written to Petru Comarnescu, described himself as "a Hitlerist". He held similar views about Italian fascism, welcoming victories in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, arguing that: "Fascism is a shock, without which Italy is a compromise comparable to today's Romania".
Cioran’s first book, On the Heights of Despair (literally translated: "On the Summits of Despair"), was published in Romania in 1934. It was awarded the Commission’s Prize and the Young Writers Prize for one of the best books written by an unpublished young writer. Successively, The Book of Delusions (1935), The Transfiguration of Romania (1936), and Tears and Saints (1937), were also published in Romania (the first two titles have yet to be translated into English).
Although Cioran was never a member of the group, it was during this time in Romania that he began taking an interest in the ideas put forth by the Iron Guard—a far right organization whose nationalist ideology he supported until the early years of World War II, despite allegedly disapproving of their violent methods.
Cioran revised The Transfiguration of Romania heavily in its second edition released in the 1990s, eliminating numerous passages he considered extremist or "pretentious and stupid". In its original form, the book expressed sympathy for totalitarianism, a view which was also present in various articles Cioran wrote at the time, and which aimed to establish "urbanization and industrialization" as "the two obsessions of a rising people". Marta Petreu's An Infamous Past: E.M. Cioran and the Rise of Fascism in Romania, published in English in 2005, gives an in-depth analysis of The Transfiguration.
His early call for modernization was, however, hard to reconcile with the traditionalism of the Iron Guard. In 1934, he wrote, "I find that in Romania the sole fertile, creative, and invigorating nationalism can only be one which does not just dismiss tradition, but also denies and defeats it". Disapproval of what he viewed as specifically Romanian traits had been present in his works ("In any maxim, in any proverb, in any reflection, our people expresses the same shyness in front of life, the same hesitation and resignation... [...] Everyday Romanian [truisms] are dumbfounding."), which led to criticism from the far right Gândirea (its editor, Nichifor Crainic, had called The Transfiguration of Romania "a bloody, merciless, massacre of today's Romania, without even [the fear] of matricide and sacrilege"), as well as from various Iron Guard papers.
After returning from Berlin in 1936, Cioran taught philosophy at the Andrei Șaguna High School in Brașov for a year. In 1937, he left for Paris with a scholarship from the French Institute of Bucharest, which was then prolonged until 1944. After a short stay in his home country (November 1940 – February 1941), Cioran never returned again. This last period in Romania was the one in which he exhibited a closer relationship with the Iron Guard, which by then had taken power (see National Legionary State). On 28 November, for the state-owned Romanian Radio, Cioran recorded a speech centered on the portrait of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, former leader of the movement, praising him and the Guard for, among other things, "having given Romanians a purpose".
He later renounced not only his support for the Iron Guard, but also their nationalist ideas, and frequently expressed regret and repentance for his emotional implication in it. For example, in a 1972 interview, he condemned it as "a complex of movements; more than this, a demented sect and a party", saying, "I found out then [...] what it means to be carried by the wave without the faintest trace of conviction. [...] I am now immune to it".
Cioran started writing The Passionate Handbook in 1940 and finished it by 1945. It was the last book he wrote in Romanian, though not the last to deal with pessimism and misanthropy through delicate and lyrical aphorisms. Cioran published books only in French thereafter.
In 1949, his first French book, A Short History of Decay, was published by Gallimard and was awarded the Rivarol Prize in 1950. Cioran later refused every literary prize he was given.
The Latin Quarter of Paris became Cioran’s permanent residence. He lived most of his life in isolation, avoiding the public, but still maintained contact with numerous friends, including Mircea Eliade, Eugène Ionesco, Paul Celan, Samuel Beckett, Henri Michaux and Fernando Savater.
Professing a lack of interest in conventional philosophy in his early youth, Cioran dismissed abstract speculation in favor of personal reflection and passionate lyricism. "I’ve invented nothing; I’ve simply been the secretary of my sensations", he later said.
Pessimism characterizes all of his works, which many critics trace back to events of his childhood (in 1935 his mother is reputed to have told him that if she had known he was going to be so unhappy she would have aborted him). However, Cioran's pessimism (in fact, his skepticism, even nihilism) remains both inexhaustible and, in its own particular manner, joyful; it is not the sort of pessimism which can be traced back to simple origins, single origins themselves being questionable. When Cioran's mother spoke to him of abortion, he confessed that it did not disturb him, but made an extraordinary impression which led to an insight about the nature of existence ("I'm simply an accident. Why take it all so seriously?" is what he later said in reference to the incident).
His works often depict an atmosphere of torment, a state that Cioran himself experienced, and came to be dominated by lyricism and, often, the expression of intense and even violent feeling. The books he wrote in Romanian especially display this latter characteristic. Preoccupied with the problems of death and suffering, he was attracted to the idea of suicide, believing it to be an idea that could help one go on living, an idea which he fully explored in On the Heights of Despair. He revisits suicide in depth in The New Gods, which contains a section of aphorisms devoted to the subject. The theme of human alienation, the most prominent existentialist theme, presented by Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, is thus formulated, in 1932, by young Cioran: "Is it possible that existence is our exile and nothingness our home?" in On the Heights of Despair.
Cioran’s works encompass many other themes as well: original sin, the tragic sense of history, the end of civilization, the refusal of consolation through faith, the obsession with the absolute, life as an expression of man's metaphysical exile, etc. He was a thinker passionate about history; widely reading the writers that were associated with the period of "decadent". One of these writers was Oswald Spengler who influenced Cioran's political philosophy in that he offered Gnostic reflections on the destiny of man and civilization. According to Cioran, as long as man has kept in touch with his origins and hasn't cut himself off from himself, he has resisted decadence. Today, he is on his way to his own destruction through self-objectification, impeccable production and reproduction, excess of self-analysis and transparency, and artificial triumph.
Regarding God, Cioran has noted that "without Bach, God would be a complete second rate figure" and that "Bach's music is the only argument proving the creation of the Universe cannot be regarded as a complete failure". In an interview he stated that Bach had been a "kind of religion" for him. He mentioned that Bach and Dostoyevsky were the two great obsessions of his life, but that while his passion for Dostoyevsky ended up diminishing somewhat, his obsession with Bach "remained intact".
William H. Gass called Cioran's work "a philosophical romance on the modern themes of alienation, absurdity, boredom, futility, decay, the tyranny of history, the vulgarities of change, awareness as agony, reason as disease".
Cioran became most famous while writing not in Romanian but French, a language with which he had struggled since his youth. During Cioran's lifetime, Saint-John Perse called him "the greatest French writer to honor our language since the death of Paul Valéry." Cioran's tone and usage in his adopted language were seldom as harsh as in Romanian (though his use of Romanian is said to be more original).
After the death of Cioran's long-term companion, Simone Boué, a collection of Cioran's manuscripts (over 30 notebooks) were found in the couple's apartment by a manager who tried, in 2005, to auction them. A decision taken by the Court of Appeal of Paris stopped the commercial sale of the collection. However, in March 2011, the Court of Appeal ruled that the seller was the legitimate owner of the manuscripts. Amid the manuscripts, which were mainly drafts of works that had already been published, an unedited journal was found which encompassed his life after 1972 (the year in which his Notebooks end). This document is probably Cioran’s last unpublished work.
An aged Cioran is the main character in a play by Romanian dramatist-actor Matei Vișniec, Mansardă la Paris cu vedere spre moarte ("A Paris Loft with a View on Death"). The play, depicting an imaginary meeting between Vișniec and Emil Cioran, was first brought to the stage in 2007, under the direction of Radu Afrim and with a cast of Romanian and Luxembourgian actors; Cioran was played by Constantin Cojocaru. Stagings were organized in the Romanian city of Sibiu and in the Luxembourg, at Esch-sur-Alzette (both Sibiu and Luxembourg City were the year's European Capital of Culture). In 2009, the Romanian Academy granted posthumous membership to Cioran.
All of Cioran's major works in French have been translated into English by Richard Howard.
"Cioran was impressed especially by Mainländer".
A Short History of Decay is an American comedy film written and directed by Michael Maren. It stars Bryan Greenberg, Linda Lavin, Harris Yulin, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Benjamin King and Kathleen Rose Perkins. Though its title is taken from the work of philosophy by Emil Cioran, it is not an adaptation of the book.
The film was shot in October and November 2012 in Wilmington, North Carolina, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and New York City. It premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 12, 2013 and it opened theatrically at the Village East Cinema on May 16, 2014.Albert Caraco
Albert Caraco (8 July 1919 – 7 September 1971) was a French-Uruguayan philosopher, writer, essayist and poet of Turkish Jewish descent. He is known for his two major works, Post Mortem (1968) and posthumously published Bréviaire du chaos (1982). He is often compared to the philosophers and writers such as Emil Cioran, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Nicolás Gómez Dávila and Friedrich Nietzsche.Andrei Șaguna National College (Brașov)
Andrei Șaguna National College (Romanian: Colegiul Național "Andrei Șaguna") is a Romanian state school located in Șcheii Brașovului, the oldest neighbourhood of Brașov. The school educates children aged between 11 (5th grade - gymnasium) and 19 years old (12th grade - high school). It is considered 5th best school in the country (2014, 2015).Since its founding in 1850, the school has had a number important Romanian personalities either alumni or former teachers. Important names include Ciprian Porumbescu, Dumitru Stăniloae, Gheorghe Dima, Lucian Blaga, Octavian Goga, Titu Maiorescu, Emil Cioran and Vasile Goldiş.Aurora Cornu
Aurora Cornu (born 6 December 1931, Proviţa de Jos, Prahova County, Romania) is a Romanian-born French writer, actress, film director, and translator.
An independent spirit, she ran away three times from home, the last time permanently at the age of 14. She was adopted by an uncle. Her father died in prison after he was arrested for harboring a fugitive general of the defunct Romanian Royal Army (who was another of her uncles) for 11 years.She graduated from the "Mihai Eminescu" Literary School in Bucharest, and worked for a while for the poetry section of "Viața Românească" while doing translations.Her first husband was Marin Preda, to whom she was married between 1955 and 1959 (or 1960), and whom she encouraged to publish Moromeții, whose manuscript she had found in a drawer.Her fiancé in the mid-1960s, mathematician Tudor Ganea, did not succeed in getting her out of Romania, so she saw her chance to defect to the West while she was at the poetry festival in Knokke-Het Zoute, Belgium. She settled down in Paris, France, where, being destitute, Pierre Emmanuel's wife paid her rent for several years. In Paris she befriended, among others, Romanian émigrés Mircea Eliade, Emil Cioran, and Jean Parvulesco.Between 1967 and 1978 she was a collaborator of Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca in their literary radio program aired by Radio Free Europe.While living in France, she married Aurel Cornea, a Romanian-born French television sound engineer, who was a hostage of the pro-Iranian Shiite Moslem group known as the "Revolutionary Justice Organization" for ten and a half months in Lebanon in 1986.She has paid the construction costs for a church in Cornu, a church whose design was inspired by a Horia Damian drawing.In later years, she has been living in Paris and in New York City.Emil Botta
Emil Botta (Romanian pronunciation: [eˈmil ˈbota]; 15 September 1911, Adjud – 24 July 1977, Bucharest) was a Romanian actor and writer.
Together with Emil Cioran, Eugen Ionescu and Arsavir Acterian, he was a member of the literary group called Corabia cu ratați ("The Losers' Ship").Botta graduated in 1932 from the Dramatical Art Conservatory of Bucharest.He was married for a while to actress Maria Mimi Botta.He was the younger brother of poet Dan Botta.Faust (EWTC show)
Faust is the name of the show produced by the East West Theatre Company and directed by Haris Pasovic. The action is set in the foreseeable future and the script is based on texts by Emil Cioran, Bertrand Russell, Christopher Marlowe, Bill Joy, Werener Heisenberg and Haris Pasovic.An international cast of actors and musicians have participated in the production which synthesizes drama, contemporary dance, acrobatics and music. Themes of the show include intelligence, politics and greed for knowledge, power and money. East West Theatre Company's Faust poses some of the fundamental questions about intellectual capacities, human measure and ethics.The plot includes faustian bargain and the democratisation of evil Robots, who in this production, are more conscious than humans. Dr. Faust, the character who agrees to give his soul to the devil in exchange for superhuman powers while he is alive, creates bio-robots which develop the ability to decide for themselves and procreate. The robots, who resemble Ridley Scott's humanoid clones from his classic film "Blade Runner", show more emotion than Faust and abandon him altogether.Franz Koglmann
Franz Koglmann (born 1947) is an Austrian jazz composer. He performs on both the trumpet and flugelhorn in a variety of contexts, most often within avant-garde jazz and third stream contexts. An award-winning composer, Koglmann has performed or recorded with a variety of musicians, including Lee Konitz, Paul Bley, Bill Dixon, Georg Gräwe, Andrea Centazzo, Theo Jörgensmann, Wolfgang Reisinger, Enrico Rava, Yitzhak Yedid, Ran Blake, John Lindberg and many others. When the Romanian town of Sibiu commissioned Koglmann to write a piece, he brought together bits from Haydn's 27th symphony with a tape recording of Sibiu native Emil Cioran philosophisizing. In 2003 he received the highest Austrian jazz award, the Hans Koller Prize, in the category "album of the year".Guido Ceronetti
Guido Ceronetti (24 August 1927 – 13 September 2018) was an Italian poet, philosopher, novelist, translator, journalist and playwright. He was born in Turin, Italy.
In 1970, he founded the Theater of the Sensitive. His works are archived at the Cantonal Library of Lugano. He wrote columns for La Repubblica, La Stampa and Radio Radicale.
Emil Cioran dedicated to his book Il silenzio del corpo ("The Silence of the Body") a chapter of the essay Exercices d'admiration (1986).
Ceronetti died in Cetona, Italy on 13 September 2018 from bronchopneumonia at the age of 91.Horia Stamatu
Horia Stamatu (September 9, 1912–July 7/8, 1989) was a Romanian poet and essayist.
Born in Vălenii de Munte, where he attended primary school, Stamatu went on to military high school and then the literature and philosophy faculty of Bucharest University. From 1936 to 1937, he was a substitute teacher at Bucharest's Cantemir Vodă High School. He was an editor at Enciclopedia României from 1938 to 1940. A member of the Iron Guard, he took part in the Legionnaires' rebellion. In 1941, in the aftermath of the rebellion, he left for Germany through Bulgaria, and was interned at Buchenwald concentration camp from 1942 to 1944. He was sentenced to death in absentia by a Romanian military tribunal. From 1945, he lived in Freiburg im Breisgau, where he studied philosophy with Max Müller at the University of Freiburg. Within that institution, he lectured on the Romanian language from 1946 to 1948 in Hugo Friedrich's department.From 1948 to 1950, he lived in Paris. There, he was among the founders of the Sorbonne-affiliated Romanian research institute; other initiators included Eugène Ionesco, Emil Cioran, Mircea Eliade, Edmond Jaloux and Marcel Brion. Stamatu became head of the literary section. From 1951 to 1961, he lived in Spain, where he was an editor at Oriente Europeo magazine and co-founded Libertatea românească and Fapta magazines. He returned to Freiburg in 1961, living there until his death. From 1962 to 1966, he edited Forschungstelle für Weltzivilisation. While in exile, he contributed to Revista scriitorilor români, Limite and Ethos.Stamatu's first published work appeared in 1932 in Sandu Tudor's Floarea de foc magazine, and subsequently wrote for Ideea europeană magazine. His first book, the 1934 Memnon, appeared just as Ionesco, Cioran and Ștefan Baciu were launching their careers. He won the Fundația Regală pentru Literatură și Artă prize. Until going into exile, Stamatu published several lengthy poems, such as Moartea lui 1940, in magazines, but no other books. While in Europe, he published Recitativ (1963), Kairos (1974) and Imperiul (1981). He won the American-Romanian Academy of Arts and Sciences prize for 1988.Humanitas (publishing house)
Humanitas (Romanian: Editura Humanitas) is an independent Romanian publishing house, founded on February 1, 1990 (after the Romanian Revolution) in Bucharest by the philosopher Gabriel Liiceanu, based on a state-owned publishing house, Editura Politică. Its slogan is Humanitas, bunul gust al libertăţii ("Humanitas, the good taste of freedom").
During its first years, Humanitas mainly published authors from the Romanian diaspora, whose works had been subject to censorship or banning in Communist Romania; they include Emil Cioran, Mircea Eliade, and Eugène Ionesco.
Currently, Humanitas publishes literature, books on philosophy, religion, social and political sciences, history, memoirs, popular science, children's literature, and self-help books.List of Romanian writers
This is a list of Romanian writers.Marta Petreu
Marta Petreu is the pen name of Rodica Marta Vartic, née Rodica Crisan (born 14 March 1955), a Romanian philosopher, literary critic, essayist and poet. A professor of Philosophy at the Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, she has published eight books of essays and seven of poetry, and is the editor of the monthly magazine Apostrof. Petreu is also noted as a historian of fascism, which she notably dealt with in her book about the controversial stances of philosopher Emil Cioran (An Infamous Past: E. M. Cioran and the Rise of Fascism in Romania, 1999).Modest Morariu
Modest Morariu (Romanian pronunciation: [modest moraˈri.u]; August 11, 1929 – April 15, 1988) was a poet, essayist, prose writer and translator from Romania.
Morariu was born in Cernăuți. He was a director of the Meridiane publishing house, and translated, amongst others, works by André Malraux, Emil Cioran and Albert Camus into Romanian.Nocturnal Walks
Nocturnal Walks is a musical composition by Franz Koglmann commissioned by the Romanian city of Sibiu to celebrate its being the European Capital of Culture in 2007. The instrumentation of the piece includes flutes, oboe, English horn, clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, two trumpets, flugelhorn, trombone, tuba, two violins, viola, cello, accordion, drums and vibraphone to be played live, together with a recording of Sibiu native philosopher Emil Cioran (interviewed in Paris by Alfred Koch, whose voice is not used in the composition). Koglmann also quotes from a symphony by Haydn, exemplifying third stream.
The piece is divided into eight sections:
Cioran talks about scepticism
Riffing on Haydn
Cioran reminisces about a garden by the cemetery
Cioran recalls he didn't find school terribly interesting
More take-offs on Haydn
Cioran critiques Christianity
Cioran talks about his insomnia, and how he takes walks at night
Cioran defines aphorismsThe piece was recorded in 2007, with Koglmann himself on flugelhorn and Peter Burwik conducting the 20th Century Ensemble. The next year it earned him the Ernst Krenek Prize.Oeuvre
Oeuvre(s) or Œuvre(s) may refer to:
A work of art; or, more commonly, the body of work of a creatorOvidiu Iuliu Moldovan
Ovidiu Iuliu Moldovan (Romanian: [oˈvidju ˈjulju moldoˈvan]; January 1, 1942 – March 12, 2008) was a Romanian actor known for his work in Romanian film and television roles. However, Moldovan focused almost exclusively on theater and stage roles during the later years of his career.Moldovan was awarded the UNITER prize for his career achievements as a Romanian actor in 2004.Ovidiu Iuliu Moldovan died of cancer at the age of 66 at a hospital in Bucharest, Romania, on March 12, 2008. His last theater role was in the Romanian play, Celălalt Cioran, which means The Other Cioran. Moldovan's final play was named after Romanian philosopher, Emil Cioran.Romanian President Traian Băsescu posthumously appointed Moldovan Knight of the Order of the Star of Romania on March 15, 2008.Rifts (Oneohtrix Point Never album)
Rifts is a 2009 compilation album by Oneohtrix Point Never, the solo alias of Brooklyn electronic musician Daniel Lopatin. The album collects Lopatin's early synthesizer-based recordings under the moniker dating back to 2003, including the three limited-run LPs Betrayed in the Octagon (2007), Zones Without People (2009) and Russian Mind (2009), as well as several additional cassette and CD-R releases. It was originally released on No Fun Productions in 2009 as a 2 disc set.
The initial issue of Rifts sold beyond expectations and brought Lopatin early critical praise; UK magazine The Wire named it the No. 2 album of 2009. In 2012, the album was reissued as an expanded 3 disc/5 LP set, including previously unreleased tracks, on Lopatin's own Software label.Romanians in France
Romanian French is the term for a French citizen of Romanian heritage, born in Romania and living as an emigrant in France or being born in France from a Romanian immigrant family, that came to France at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, there are c. 18,000 Romanian-born citizens living in France, and an unknown number of French citizens of Romanian ancestry.Theodor Cazaban
Theodor Cazaban (2 April 1921 – 4 March 2016) was a Romanian anti-communist writer. He graduated from the University of Bucharest with a degree in letters, and fled to France in 1947. While in Paris, he was a staff member of the anti-communist newspaper 'La Nation Roumaine' and contributed to the broadcasts of Radio Free Europe. In 1963 he published the novel Parages, in which he describes Communist persecutions of Romanian intellectuals, such as Mircea Eliade, Emil Cioran, Eugène Ionesco and others.
Marilena Rotaru of the Romanian Television made a documentary movie in 2003 about Theodor Cazaban.