Brzozowski and Cioran: The Legend of Young Poland and The Transformation of Romania [chapter]

Andrzej Zawadzki, Edward M. Swiderski, Jens Herlth
2019 Stanislaw Brzozowski and the Migration of Ideas  
An attempt to compare Stanisław Brzozowski's and Emil Cioran's philosophies may seem initially surprising and not very promising. They belong to different generations (Cioran was born the year of Brzozowski's death in 1911) and, what is even more important, they dealt with different philosophical problems. For Polish readers, Cioran, as the author of Pe culmile disperārii (On the Heights of Despair), is first of all a historian of Western decadence and a perspicuous critic of the illusions
more » ... the illusions inherent in the Western narrative of modernization. His works are full of extreme existential, cultural, and civilizational pessimism, atheism, and melancholy; he as well sees time and history as murky regions of decadence and corruption in which all hope is doomed to vanish. This philosophical stance seems to be in contradiction with Brzozowski's line of thinking, which, in brief, can be characterized as an expression of humanism and vitalism, the belief in the highest value of history, man, and his projects, and the possibility of progress. These are all characteristic features of the early, heroic version of modernity which is still unconscious of its own dark side. The area in which I want to situate the comparison between Brzozowski and Cioran is the problem of modernity, or more precisely a modernity that has been deferred. The nations of East-Central Europe, which are situated spatially and temporarily on the margins of European modernity, have been experiencing this delay since the late nineteenth century and they have had to face the problems that arise from this. Cioran deals with such problems in his third book, Schimbarea la faţā a Romaniei (Transformation of Romania), published in 1936. I want to concentrate my attention on this book because, as far as I know, it has
doi:10.14361/9783839446416-007 fatcat:aadnkfolkved5f7guuj55gspx4