Books: The King of Pessimists

THE FALL INTO TIME by E.M. Cioran. Translated from the French by Richard Howard. 183 pages. Quadrangle Books. $5.95.

Is it better to be a savage than an intellectual? Is it better to be an animal than a savage? Is it better to be a vegetable than an animal? Yes. Yes. And one more despairing yes.

By such determined scramblings down the tree of life, E.M. Cioran, 59, has made himself into a kind of one-man cult of the culdesac: the king of the pessimists in a bumper year for pessimists. Cioran's recent book of...

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