More than any other study of Cioran, Marta Petreu's intensive investigation of his life and work confronts the central problem of his biography: his relationship with political extremism. The scene of Cioran's excesses is Romania and Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, a time of xenophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, Nazism, and Stalinism. Norman Manea's Foreword reminds us of Cioran's stature in Western intellectual circles and explains the critical importance of An Infamous Past.
Marta Petreu lives in Romania. Norman Manea is the Francis Flournoy Professor in European Studies and Culture and writer in residence at Bard College. His most recent book is The Hooligan's Return: A Memoir.