A Short History of Decay by E. M. Cioran, translated by Richard Howard / 186-page paperback, Penguin Modern Classics edition / ISBN 9780241343463
“A love of Cioran creates an urge to press his writing into someone’s hand, and is followed by an equal urge to pull it away as poison.”—The New Yorker
A Short History of Decay (1949) is E. M. Cioran's nihilistic and witty collection of aphoristic essays concerning the nature of civilization in mid 20th-century Europe. Touching upon man's need to worship, the feebleness of God, the downfall of the Ancient Greeks and the melancholy baseness of all existence, Cioran's pieces are pessimistic in the extreme, but also display a beautiful certainty that renders them delicate, vivid, and memorable. Illuminating and brutally honest, A Short History of Decay dissects man's decadence in a remarkable series of moving and beautiful pieces.
E. M. Cioran (1911-1995) was one of Central Europe's most remarkable philosophers, whose thinking was influenced by pessimism and existentialism. A Romanian, he lived most of his life in Paris. His major works in Romanian include On the Heights of Despair and, in French, A Short History of Decay and Drawn and Quartered. He refused nearly every literary prize he was awarded.