Cioran and Camus

Cioran and Camus

Everyone knows Camus: the pied noir journalist who fired a bitter shot into French literature with The Outsider in 1942; the cigarette puffing rebel who left the Communist Party in the ‘50s; the hyperactive womanizer; the very acceptable goalkeeper; the meaningless death in 1960 – a road accident on a journey for which he had bought a rail ticket…

But how many know Cioran, pretty much an exact contemporary, also born outside France, tempered by similar fires of war and political extremism?  Not nearly so many, in the English-speaking world at least.

Perhaps it is their diverse public images: Camus smiling and shivering on the Left Bank as if in regret for the Algerian sun, thrust into the limelight as playwright and Nobel prize winner.  Cioran, on the other hand, was simultaneously wandering miserably round the Luxembourg Gardens, observing himself and the world from a park bench with the bitter, misanthropic mien of an aging, deraciné satyr.

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