Searching for Cioran

Searching for Cioran

Zarifopol-Johnston Ilinca, Kenneth Johnston, Matei Calinescu and Zarifopol-Johnston Ilinca
Distribution: World
Publication date: 01/07/2009
Format: Hardback 10 b&w photos, 1 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-35267-5
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Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston's critical biography of the Romanian-born French philosopher E. M. Cioran focuses on his crucial formative years as a mystical revolutionary attracted to right-wing nationalist politics in interwar Romania, his writings of this period, and his self-imposed exile to France in 1937. This move led to his transformation into one of the most famous French moralists of the 20th century. As an enthusiast of the anti-rationalist philosophies widely popular in Europe during the first decades of the 20th century, Cioran became an advocate of the fascistic Iron Guard. In her quest to understand how Cioran and other brilliant young intellectuals could have been attracted to such passionate national revival movements, Zarifopol-Johnston, herself a Romanian emigré, sought out the aging philosopher in Paris in the early 1990s and retraced his steps from his home village of Rasinari and youthful years in Sibiu, through his student years in Bucharest and Berlin, to his early residence in France. Her portrait of Cioran is complemented by an engaging autobiographical account of her rediscovery of her own Romanian past.

Author Bio

Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston (1952–2005) was Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. She translated two books by E. M. Cioran from Romanian, On the Heights of Despair and Tears and Saints, and is author of To Kill a Text: The Dialogic Fiction of Hugo, Dickens and Zola.

Kenneth R. Johnston is Professor of English Emeritus at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is author of The Hidden Wordsworth: Poet, Lover, Rebel, Spy and co-editor of Romantic Revolutions: Criticism and Theory (IUP, 1990). He lives in Chicago, Illinois.


“Very valuable and beautifully written . . . introducing her exciting subject in a context broad enough even for those who don't know much about Cioran.”
 — Irina Livezeanu, author of Cultural Politics in Greater Romania

“An important and distinctly original contribution to the growing field of Cioran studies. . . . [Zarifopol-Johnston] is a sharp, insightful observer of self and others, courageous and candid, writing in a fresh, quick-silver style.”
 — from the Foreword by Matei Calinescu

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Table of Contents

Editor's Preface
Note on Romanian Spelling and Pronunciation
Foreword by Matei Calinescu
Chronology: E. M. Cioran

Part 1. The Romanian Life of Emil Cioran
Introduction: Cioran's Revenge
1. Rinari, Transylvania, 1911<N>1921
2. Sibiu, 1921<N>1928
3. Bucharest, 1928<N>1933
4. Berlin, 1933<N>1935
5. Romania's Transfiguration, 1935<N>1937
6. Romania's Transfiguration, Continuing Controversy
7. Tears and Saints, 1937
8. Stranger in Paris
9. Conclusion: The Lyrical Virtues of Totalitarianism
Part 2. Memoirs of a Publishing Scoundrel
Paris, 1992<N>1994
Romania, 1994
Paris, 1995
Romania, 1995<N>1997

Appendix 1: Another Family
Appendix 2: Articles by Cioran in Romanian journals reflecting his experience in Germany
Biographical Note