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Cioran, E. M. (Author) & Howard, Richard (Translator). A SHORT HISTORY OF DECAY. New York City, NY: Viking Press, 1975. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 181 pages. Fine/Fine.

Retrospective collection of philosophical essays. E. M. Cioran's inaugural masterpiece in French. The first appearance of the title in English and in the United States. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions, of which there are many. Published in a small and limited first print run as a hardcover original only. The First Edition is now rare. Presents E. M. Cioran's "Precis de decomposition" in its definitive English translation by Richard Howard, the great American poet, who is widely regarded as chiefly responsible for successfully translating Cioran's voice, not just his words, into English. The author's fourth work to be translated into English, it was his "breakthrough" book in the French original. When it was first published (in 1949), it prompted comparison with Wittgenstein as the solitary philosopher par excellence (Wittgenstein, while writing in the Analytic tradition, has strong affinities with Cioran stylistically and temperamentally), placed him firmly in the Continental tradition of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, and earned him unqualified admiration as a literary stylist of the first rank from no less than Nobel Laureate St-John Perse. The book is a breakthrough in the profoundest sense: It marks Cioran's full-fledged break from his native Romania, his serious involvement with Fascist Nationalism, and his engagement with Catholicism. More than any other modern thinker, Cioran described the intimate - and fatal - connection between religious and nationalist fanaticism, surely in part because of his own personal history. If we read this nearly-hundred-year-old book today, we will understand why we are living in the 21st century through the ugly resurgence of Fascism in Europe and America, seemingly unthinkable until it happened. In the crowded and competitive field called Modernism, E. M. Cioran stands out: The singular voice of rationality and Reason, on the one hand, and the Nietzschean spokesman of profound, not just residual, attachment to mysticism and myth, Un-Reason, on the other. There is no contemporary pundit, politician, or thinker, every single one of them pedestrian, blind partisans, who can be favorably compared to Cioran. An absolute "must-have" title for E. M. Cioran collectors. This copy is very prominently and beautifully signed, placed, dated, and inscribed in black ink-pen on the half-title page by the poet/translator: "With the translator's salute, Richard Howard '96 NYC/Houston". It is signed directly on the page itself, not on a tipped-in page. It is very prominently and beautifully signed again on the title page by Richard Howard. The recipient is named. This title is a great collection. As far as we know, this is the only such double-signed, placed, dated, and inscribed copy of the First American Edition/First Printing (1975) available online and despite its imperfection (visible wear and closed tear on the DJ) is still in especially fine condition: Every single internal page is clean, crisp, and bright. Please note: A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Richard Howard is widely regarded as chiefly responsible for successfully translating Cioran's voice, not just his words, into English. Copies available online have serious flaws (abusive highlighting, underlining, and writing on inside pages that every Cioran book is subjected to) or are subsequent editions, of which there are many. This is surely an accessible and lovely alternative. A rare signed copy thus. One of the greatest writer-philosophers of the 20th century. A fine collectible copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER E. M. CIORAN TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). ISBN 0670641227. $300.00

This item is available for purchase. This web page was most recently updated on October 17, 2019.