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This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

E. M. Cioran: An Introduction John Pilling

E. M. CIORAN is the most neglected serious thinker of our time. Other post-war French thinkers, many of whom might have been thought too esoteric to attract the Anglo-Saxon mind, have been enthusiastically and widely canvassed, read and accepted. If even in-this favourable climate Cioran has been ignored it is not just because he writes "philosophy" rather than novels or poems or plays, but rather because he has enunciated a radical critique of humanism in a terse and gnomic style that brooks no argument and openly embraced, or seemed to embrace, a view of man that, in the wrong hands, could be volatile and dangerous. His meditations are even more "untimely" than Nietzsche's because it is hard to conceive of a time when they might usefully be given houseroom; he is not a writer whom even his most fervent apologists can unreservedly recommend. If it were only his unremitting gloom that stood in the way of Cioran enjoying a vogue and eminence comparable to that enjoyed by Sartre or Foucault, we might by now have seen more attempts to domesticate and emasculate his severe ideas to make them seem palatable and serviceable, and "fit audience find/Though few". But his apparently wilful rejection of all the societal con-ceptions the present age holds dear and his thorough-going solipsism have increasingly meant that he has found no audience at all. This is an undesirable state of affairs and can only be remedied by a thorough and disinterested exposition of his ideas. If ...


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