A Short History of Decay (Penguin Modern Classics)

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A Short History of Decay (Penguin Modern Classics)

A Short History of Decay (Penguin Modern Classics)

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In 1937, Cioran left his native country of Romania for Paris, where he remained for the rest of his life. Others praised it for precisely these reasons (in his review of the book, Maurice Nadeau proclaimed Cioran “the one whose arrival has been prepared by all the philosophers of the void and of the absurd, harbinger of bad news par excellence").

Illuminating and brutally honest, A Short History of Decay dissects Man's decadence in a remarkable series of moving and beautiful pieces. In 1950, A Short History of Decay was awarded the Prix Rivarol for the best work by a non-French author. Just as the outrageous opinions of Cioran's great favorite, Diogenes (see Herakleitos and Diogenes ), may be said to have "set off a stink bomb in Plato's Academy," Cioran sets off a stink bomb in our own world of comforting lies and illusions since, one way or another, he seems determined to have all of us either shuddering in horror or screaming with laughter.What a downfall, when you bear in mind, by some radical obsession, that man exists, that he is what he is—and that he cannot be otherwise. While it is only at their final stages, at the dissolution of a whole system of behavior and belief, that the other civilizations could enjoy that lively exercise which lends a flavor of futility to life, it was in full ripeness, in full possession of their powers and of the future that these two epochs knew the tedium heedless of everything and permeable to everything. Except for the ancient skeptics and the French moralists, it would be hard to cite a single mind whose theories, secretly or explicitly, do not tend to mold man.

Cioran reworked several passages from his earlier Romanian period for inclusion in A Short History of Decay, his first French work. And one of the more obvious results of this fear is a positive hatred and rejection of any sort of criticism whatsoever. Cioran confronts the place of today's world in the context of human history—focusing on such major issues of the twentieth century as human progress, fanaticism, and science—in this nihilistic and witty collection of aphoristic essays concerning the nature of civilization in mid-twentieth-century Europe. Creator of values, man is the delirious creature par excellence victim of the belief that something exists, whereas he need merely hold his breath: everything stops; suspend his emotions: nothing stirs; suppress his whims: the world turns to ashes.

And if we meet others, it is to degrade ourselves together in a race to the void, whether in the exchange of ideas, schemes, or confessions. We say of space, of time, and of suffering that they are infinite; but infinite has no more bearing than beautiful, sublime, harmonious, ugly. Love’s one function is to help us endure those cruel and incommensurable Sunday afternoons which torment us for the rest of the week—and for eternity. In Rome, where they were replaced, imported, where they could be seen to wither, what pleasure to invoke ghosts with yet the one fear that this sublime versatility might capitulate to the assault of some severe and impure deity . Nihilistic in tone, the book consists of a series of philosophical reflections on various subjects, such as fanaticism, music, and progress.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
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