The Trouble With Being Born by Emil Cioran

The Trouble With Being Born by Emil Cioran, a translation from French by Richard Howard. I reviewed another one of Cioran’s books, A Short History of Decay, in 2019. As last time, I will review the book by sharing quotes that I found most interesting.

The Trouble With Being Born by Emil Cioran

“It is easier to get on with vices than with virtues. The vices, accommodating by nature, help each other, are full of mutual indulgence, whereas the jealous virtues combat and annihilate each other, showing in everything their incompatibility and their intolerance.”

“Only what you hide is profound, is true. Whence the power of base feelings.”

“I have all the defects of other people and yet everything they do seems to me inconceivable.”

“The one sincere confession is the one we make indirectly – when we talk about other people.”

“What other people do we always feel we could do better. Unfortunately we do not have the same feeling about what we ourselves do.”

“What makes bad poets worse is that they read only poets (just as bad philosophers read only philosophers), whereas they would benefit much more from a book of botany or geology. We are enriched only by frequenting disciplines remote from our own. This is true, of course, only for realms where the ego is rampant.”

“Two enemies – the same man divided.”

“‘Never judge a man without putting yourself in his place.’ This old proverb makes all judgement impossible, for we judge someone only because, in fact, we cannot put ourselves in his place.”

“As orangutang in the strict sense of the word, man is old; as historical orangutang, he is comparatively recent: a parvenu who has not had time to learn how to behave in life.”

“We have convictions only if we have studied nothing thoroughly.”

“With sufficient perspective, nothing is good or bad.”

“Wherever civilized men appeared for the first time, they were regarded by the natives as devils, as ghosts, spectres. Never as living men! Unequalled intuition, a prophetic insight, if ever there was one.”

“In a work of psychiatry, only the patients’ remarks interest me; in a work of criticism, only the quotations.”

The Trouble With Being Born by Emil Cioran

Details about the picture: I read most of the book while commuting to uni by tube, so I snapped this picture just after finishing it.
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Penguin Classics
Year it was published: 2020 (first published in 1973)
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): Philosophy
Pages: 177

About the author: Emil Cioran was born in 1911 in Rasinari, a small village in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, to a Christian Orthodox priest (main religion in Romania) and a mother who was prone to depression. He studied Philosophy at the University of Bucharest. He wrote five books while living in Romania, some are collections of brief essays, others are collections of aphorisms.
In his views, he was influenced by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Chestov, Rozanov, Dostoyevsky, and poet Mihai Eminescu. He spent two years in Germany with a scholarship for his PhD. He was briefly pro-Nazi and Hitler, before recanted his views with fury and passion, and that led him to question individual involvement in history. Cioran arrived in Paris in 1936 with another scholarship. There he continued to write in Romanian for a few years, before deciding to give up his native language and speak and write in French.
Books by him: History and Utopia (1960), The Fall into Time (1964), The Trouble with being Born (1973), Exercices d’admiration (1986).
He was denied the right to return to Romania during the years of the communist regime, as many intellectuals were denied at that time. He attracted international attention late in his career. Emil Cioran died in Paris in 1995.
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