“Cioran’s Nietzsche” (Willis G. Regier)

French Forum, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Fall 2005), pp. 75-90

Cioran’s Nietzsche

Susan Sontag wrote that

Cioran comes after Nietzsche, who set down almost the whole of Cioran’s position a century ago. An interesting question: why does a subtle, powerful mind consent to say what has, for the most part, already been said? . . . Whatever the answer, the “fact” of Nietzsche has undeniable consequences for Cioran. He must tighten the screws, make the argument denser. More excruciating. More rhetorical.

Sontag’s essay has become a touchstone for taking Cioran seriously as a philosopher and the correlations between Cioran and Nietzsche she described are now staples of Cioran criticism.

Sontag’s junction of Cioran and Nietzsche has been steadily reinforced. As a postscript to his book on Nietzsche, Clément Rosset puts Cioran in the tradition of Nietzsche’s Gay Science and credits him for posing the most serious and most grave question to philosophy: whether an alliance is possible between lucidity and joy. Two of Cioran’s most esteemed translators, Ilinca Zarifopol- Johnson and Sanda Stolojan, separately asserted that Nietzsche was a major influence on Cioran in the 1930s. Cioran’s friend, the Spanish philosopher Fernando Savater, emphasized how much the two have in common. In a close comparison of Cioran’s Romanian works with Nietzsche’s books and Nachlass, Lucia Gorgoi found multiple similarities in style and substance, particularly regarding aphorisms and nihilism. Patrice Bollon’s summary of Cioran’s philosophy links it to Nietzsche more frequently than to any other philosopher.

Despite all this, Nietzsche and Cioran are a pair that ought not be taken for granted, for three reasons: affinity and resemblance are too easily mistaken for agreement and influence; Cioran strenuously resisted… [Pdf]