History and Utopia

Overview

“Only a monster can allow himself the luxury of seeing things as they are,” writes E. M. Cioran, the Romanian-born philosopher who has rightly been compared to Samuel Beckett.

In History and Utopia, Cioran the monster writes of politics in its broadest sense, of history, and of the utopian dream. His views are, to say the least, provocative. In one essay he casts a scathing look at democracy, that “festival of mediocrity”; in another he turns his uncompromising gaze on Russia, its history, its evolution, and what...

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Overview

“Only a monster can allow himself the luxury of seeing things as they are,” writes E. M. Cioran, the Romanian-born philosopher who has rightly been compared to Samuel Beckett.

In History and Utopia, Cioran the monster writes of politics in its broadest sense, of history, and of the utopian dream. His views are, to say the least, provocative. In one essay he casts a scathing look at democracy, that “festival of mediocrity”; in another he turns his uncompromising gaze on Russia, its history, its evolution, and what he calls “the virtues of liberty.” In the dark shadow of Stalin and Hitler, he writes of tyrants and tyranny with rare lucidity and convincing logic. In “Odyssey of Rancor,” he examines the deep-rooted dream in all of us to “hate our neighbors,” to take immediate and irremediable revenge. And, in the final essay, he analyzes the notion of the “golden age,” the biblical Eden, the utopia of so many poets and thinkers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Cioran has a claim to be regarded as among the handful of original minds . . . writing today.”
The New York Times

“Cioran may be the most distinguished contemporary in a line descending from Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein.”
Los Angeles Times

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Human beings, in Cioran's dark vision, are intolerant creatures driven by an appetite for glory; creativity implies self-expansion, hence aggression toward others. ``Every conviction consists chiefly of hate, and only secondly of love,'' broods the Rumanian-born philosopher whose home is Paris. Moving from the personal to the political, he argues that tyrants, though abominable, constitute ``the warp of history'' and function as engines of change. He maintains that liberalization would destroy the Soviet Union, but he defines the political destiny of the West as the humanizing and broadening of socialist principles, a goal in which we have failed miserably. The heartfelt existentialist anguish of Cioran's previous books, The Trouble With Being Born and The Temptation to Exist, have yielded here to fashionable despair and questionable generalizations. (June)
The New Yorker
Six elegant essays in disenchantment....One can think of Cioran as an intellectual grandson of Carlyle and Nietzsche....The translation is excellent. -- The New Yorker
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781628724257
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/6/2015
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 283,129

Meet the Author

Born in Romania in 1911, E. M. Cioran moved to Paris when he was twenty-six and lived there until his death in 1995. A maverick and iconoclast, he has been called “the last worthy disciple of Nietzsche” as well as a brilliant aphorist and stylist. His other books include Anathemas and Admirations, Drawn and Quartered, A Short History of Decay, The Temptation to Exist, and The Trouble with Being Born, all available in paperback from Arcade.

Richard Howard has translated most of Cioran’s books into English. He is a Pulitzer Prize–winning poet and critic as well as an award-winning translator. He lives in New York City.

Eugene Thacker is the author of several books, including After Life and Horror of Philosophy. He teaches at The New School in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Letter to a Faraway Friend 1
Russia and the Virus of Liberty 21
Learning from the Tyrants 38
Odyssey of Rancor 57
Mechanism of Utopia 80
The Golden Age 99
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