Carlin Romano in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Where have we seen this story before? An influential European writer and thinker, celebrated in his mature years for works of sophisticated philosophical nuance, turns out to have been an anti-Semitic, pro-Hitler creep in his 20s.
The standard query immediately presents itself: Will the nefarious politics destroy the reputation?
Marta Petreu’s An Infamous Past: E.M. Cioran and the Rise of Fascism in Romania (Ivan R. Dee, 2005), inevitably hurtles humanists of a certain age back to other names and scandals — de Man, Heidegger, Eliade — with its exposé of the expatriate Romanian anointed by Susan Sontag in her 1968 introduction to The Temptation to Exist as “the most distinguished figure” then writing in the lyrical, aphoristic, antisystematic tradition of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein.
Cioran, a lapidary ironist born in Romania, fled to Paris on a scholarship in 1937 (Petreu reports that Cioran faced possible prosecution for a newspaper piece urging a “St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre” of older Romanian intellectuals). After a brief repatriation to Romania in 1940 following the fall of Paris, he returned to his beloved Left Bank in early 1941 and lived there until his death.