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The Trouble with Being Born Paperback – 26 Aug 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st Arcade Paperback Ed edition (26 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559704624
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559704625
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.6 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,148,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Emil Cioran suffered from insomnia for years and this twilight state of mind revealed the monstrous nature of everything and thus laid the emotional and philosophical foundation for his exquisite rambling on the glum; and so would you, if you couldn't sleep.

Insomnia is a way of perturbing the mind and forcing the insomniac to awaken to the world as it is. The rest are sleepers. Corian argued that his insomnia was a perturbation of his faculties and this is why he said thay it is truer to the human condition to write about the black, than it is to clap about optimism, clapping like demented seals at something we can't understand, or getting all wet and hot over science, like a silly schoolgirl. Corian saw behind these thick veils of optimism.

The optimistic world view will never deliver on the promise. The darkening of colour that optimism causes in our lives only adds to our despair. Work for that mortgage and you work on your mausoleum. Intelligent people choose optimism instead of recognising the fragile foundation inside.

Emil Cioran saw the world as a machinery of hell, and the person, limited in time and space, a gasp of pain between birth and death; can never be happy in hell. Our world is a big cruel mistress with a whip; the conditions of her arising make happiness impossible. Life is fragile and insecure, with little purpose but to be born, gasp and die. But what of salvation?

The shattered God still dwells in the ruins; but He is a ghost who is never to be taken seriously again because no one believes in him anymore, like Father Christmas, a skeleton of stones amongst the ruins of the world.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pessimistic, lyrical, misanthropic, enigmatic, tinted with sardonic humour - 'The Trouble With Being Born' is a cornucopia of insightful aphorisms penned by a dynamically melancholy thinker Emil Cioran. >> Heading for Oblivion has never been more enlightened.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x91d929c0) out of 5 stars 24 reviews
61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92202054) out of 5 stars Brilliantly written, insightful, wickedly funny 3 May 2009
By Mike - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First things first - Cioran writes absolutely beautiful prose. I don't think any philosophical writer since Montaigne has really written this well (apart from the novelists who treat philosophical themes like Dostoevsky and Sartre). I really cannot adequately convey the beauty of some of the existential musings of Cioran properly. He's a great stylist.

A cautionary note - Cioran is extremely well-educated in Western Philosophy, Christianity and Buddhism. Because of that, this is not really a book for someone who doesn't have strong grounding in philosophy (or at the least Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Hegel) and some familiarity with religion. Additionally, the philosophy types should know that this book is not really philosophy in the Western Sense. It's written more like Eastern Philosophy. It's entirely aphorisms.

That said, if you can bear with it, this is one of the best things I've ever read. The clarity of thought and sheer brilliance of the aphorisms are unmatched apart from Lao Tzu and McLuhan.

Cioran is grimly pessimistic and has an extremely mordant sense of humor. He also explores the human condition and the recalcitrant nature of existence and art. If Nietzsche had a sense of humor and lived amidst French existentialism, he'd have written this book. Cioran is a bit more of an irrationalist (and a Buddhist .... and a Christian) than Nietzsche, though (and a bit less of an anti-egalitarian). Case in point:

"Sometimes I wish I was a cannibal - less for the pleasure of eating someone than for the pleasure of vomiting him."

For me, Cioran has always been like reading Final Exit, having sex in a graveyard, or reading Nietzsche. There's something oddly life-affirming (at least in his later books - after the turn away from Schopenhauer towards Nietzsche and Buddhist studies) in his gleefully pessimistic meditations on death, decay, nihilism, and Buddhism, unlike say Schopenhauer, who is consistenly dour about everything due to his extreme narcissism.

To put it in other terms, Cioran has a sense of (self-consciously absurd) pessimistic humor that is roughly in line with the modern goth subculture. If you spent your formative years listening to the Sisters of Mercy, you'll know what I mean.

By all means, not a book for everyone but highly recommended for recovering goths, literary types, artists, existentialists, and theology and philosophy types with a sense of humor, or students studying 20th century Pessimism.
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x921fcf6c) out of 5 stars The absurdity of existance 30 May 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am from colombia so please excuse my poor english. I had the fortune to read this book but on a spanish translation. Cioran in his typical form of writing (loose ideas gathered in short chapters), shows us his thoughts on the problem of existance. He emphasizes on the fact that being born is the greatest wrong that has happened to man, since it is from that conciousness of matter, from which man has generated a fictious value and justification to his own existance. Like Heidegger would say, the motor of human existance are his preocupations in life. Cioran feels that when discovering this truth, life looses all posible meaning and one can only hope to go back to the freedom of nulity. "I would like to be free, totaly free... free like an aborted child." This harsh quote from Cioran can sum up his reflexions. One could easily tell Cioran to commit suicide if he thinks that existance is an arquetype of ignorance, but to this Cioran answers in a cruel but in fact philosophicaly convenient way: "It is not worth taking ones life away... at the end we allways do it to late...". The book also gahthers his thought in all sort of different life aspects. Thoughts about time, space, family, religion etc, make The trouble with being born one of Ciorans best books. "God is, even if he isn't". A really negative inspection of our apparently true concepts, and a open invitation to a new form of existencialism.
34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x921fccd8) out of 5 stars The Only Antidote for Hope 5 Aug. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
E.M. Cioran has been called either "the last philosopher of Europe" or an Anti-Philosopher. He has, nonetheless, created one of the greatest titles for a book yet conceived! I love to see the looks on people's faces when they pull this tome from my shelf. What Nietzsche would have written had he never died of syphilis - or how Kierkegaard would have grown out of his pseudo-St.Augustine moods. "I dream of a language whose words, like fists, would fracture jaws." These are one-liners any true vaudevillian would have enjoyed. The world is either tragic or vaudeville - you decide. That Cioran succumbed (if that is the word) to the side-effects of alzheimer's is surely one of this incredible man's final ironies. To watch as his intellect was whittled away completely before he died is surely too ignoble a death for someone so resolute in his irresolutions!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9225f2d0) out of 5 stars cogito ergo glum 27 July 2012
By a badly positioned hole near centre of chariot wheel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Emil Cioran suffered from insomnia for years and this twilight state of mind revealed the monstrous nature of everything and thus laid the emotional and philosophical foundation for his exquisite rambling on the glum; and so would you, if you couldn't sleep.

Insomnia is a way of perturbing the mind and forcing the insomniac to awaken to the world as it is. The rest are sleepers. Corian argued that his insomnia was a perturbation of his faculties and this is why he said thay it is truer to the human condition to write about the black, than it is to clap about optimism, clapping like demented seals at something we can't understand, or getting all wet and hot over science, like a silly schoolgirl. Corian saw behind these thick veils of optimism.

The optimistic world view will never deliver on the promise. The darkening of colour that optimism causes in our lives only adds to our despair. Work for that mortgage and you work on your mausoleum. Intelligent people choose optimism instead of recognising the fragile foundation inside.

Emil Cioran saw the world as a machinery of hell, and the person, limited in time and space, a gasp of pain between birth and death; can never be happy in hell. Our world is a big cruel mistress with a whip; the conditions of her arising make happiness impossible. Life is fragile and insecure, with little purpose but to be born, gasp and die. But what of salvation?

The shattered God still dwells in the ruins; but He is a ghost who is never to be taken seriously again because no one believes in him anymore, like Father Christmas, a skeleton of stones amongst the ruins of the world. History confirms the evil, so says Emil Cioran, and science argues that we are all empty space anyway, or biological robots and, to paraphrase Marc Antony, optimists have neither the wit, nor the words, or action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech, to stir men's blood. Choose nihilism, she is full of meaning. Life has no meaning.

If you like the above then you will love Cioran. Emil Cioran employs brilliant aphorisms and witty insights into idiocy to supply some much needed glum in a wasteland of shining happy Simon Cowell people.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x922024a4) out of 5 stars The Trouble with Reading this Book 10 Sept. 2015
By Robert Stefanic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At times, this book is brilliantly written. Cioran is a fantastic writer. There are some golden aphorisms sprinkled throughout this book. I picked this up because it was recommended as a philosophy of pessimism; but it wasn't philosophy book (at least, I wouldn't call it philosophy). But that doesn't take away from what this book is. It's more of a literary piece -- an invitation into the thoughts of someone who dwells in melancholy and pessimism, and for that, it's pretty interesting and impressive. There are some real great aphorisms in here that are a joy to read, where you can't help but put a smirk on your face after reading it. It's also great when in one aphorism, he'll say something that's ingenious, followed by something completely contradictory to it 3 or 4 aphorisms later. He knows what he's doing, and it's great to see these contrasts. An example would be when he talks about how he doesn't trust people who are so sure of their convictions, followed by him talking about his own convictions later on within the same chapter. Fantastic.

Overall though, I struggled to finish this book at a certain point. I wasn't interested after about 100 pages or so, and I was just kind of pushing myself to finish it. By roughly the half way point, I felt as if I'd been reading the same chapter over and over. Trying to be as generous as I could to Cioran, I read it engaging with him and questioning him, but this book is just so repetitive and relentless with this overly dramatic attitude where he takes himself so seriously that it just became boring to read. Maybe that was his goal with the book.

It's also boring because there's no development in his thought. He just keeps beating this point of view into the ground. Perhaps that's just the personification of melancholy, but it just feels so stagnant, especially after 200 pages. This sort of goes along with his view on philosophy, which he briefly describes in this book and says he became disillusioned by. He came to see that philosophy doesn't make any progress.

This reminds me of an aphorism that he writes:

"What I know at sixty, I knew as well at twenty. Forty years of a long, a superfluous, labor of verification."

That's just a self fulfilling prophecy to me. A stubborn, limiting world view, where one thinks they understand the world through a frame of reference and they just beat it into themselves. I'm not even necessarily saying that his pessimism or world view is unjustified: it's just a small way to look at the world and think you understand it entirely. To limit one's self to that is to miss out on so many view points and perspectives. His repetition then, in his own words, is just prove to himself that his own world view is right. ("For to repeat yourself is to prove that you still believe in yourself, and in what you have said." p. 133) But hey, who isn't doing that? Myself included.

I really wanted to love this book after it was so highly praised. It's funny, witty, depressive, and brilliant. At the same time it's melodramatic, repetitive, boring, and short sighted. There are some truly dazzling gems of insight in this book, as well as a lot of monotonous writing that bears repeating.
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