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Romanian poet, philosopher and editor Petreu shows in this dense but fresh work that many Romanian intellectuals were seduced by fascist ideology during the interwar years—and that philosopher Cioran, an "aphorist of humorous despair," was haunted by this legacy for the rest of his life. Petreu details the ultranationalist, pro-Christian ideology of the Legion of the Archangel Michael, a movement of intellectuals that gained prominence in Romania after WWI. As with many ideologies of the era, Petreu writes, anti-Semitism lay at the movement's core. Cioran's own ideology, rooted in the wish to turn Romania's "depressing present into a grandiose future," included a more complex view of Jews, outlined in his 1936 The Transfiguration of Romania. He envied what he saw as Jewish productivity in government, business and the arts. But Petreu shows how his outlook, adapted from Spengler, also necessitated hostility toward Jews and other non-Romanians. Cioran left Romania after WWII and became ashamed of his earlier fascism, but Petreu mines his life for lessons to be learned today about how good intentions can lead to extremism. (Nov. 4)
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An enormous contribution to our understanding not only of Romania's tormented past, but also of European intellectual history. (Marci Shore, Indiana University Slavic and East European Journal)
Represents the most thorough analysis of Cioran's inter-war fascination with fascism and nationalism…thought-provoking read. (Patterns Of Prejudice)
A thorough and vivid portrait of a Romanian gifted fascist thinker, who dreamed about ‘a Romania with the population of China and the destiny of France.’ Like his legionary colleagues, Emil Cioran admired Hitler, justified his crimes and believed that capitalism was ‘immoral, Judaic and anti-Christian.’ Unlike other Iron Guard ideologists, Cioran praised Lenin and envisioned a modern Romania driven by industrialization and urban values. Like his comrades, Cioran advocated a fascist dictatorship and cultivated Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, the criminal führer of the Iron Guard. But unlike his friend and fellow Iron Guard ideologist, Mircea Eliade, who did not show any willingness to part with his totalitarian past, Cioran had the decency, in his productive French exile, to regret his fascist youth and break with it. (Radu Ioanid)
Dense but fresh work. (Publishers Weekly)
A vivid social and political memoir. (Diane C. Donovan, editor, Midwest Book Review Midwest Book Review)
A sure and unobtrusive guide to the fevered, alienated milieu that turned Cioran...into a passionate partisan of Hitler. (Robert Legvold Foreign Affairs)
Excellent.... Marta Petreu's biography is a well-documented account of everything shameful that Cioran ever wrote. (Zbigniew Janowski First Things)
Brilliantly thorough. (Carlin Romano The Chronicle of Higher Education)
From now on, I’ll never read Cioran with as much appreciation. (Eric Rasmussen University Of Illinois, Chicago)