Creative Stuff

The Praise of Vanity

Éditions Grasset
Literary essay
307 pages


The Joyous Ecclesiastes

Enlarge Andrei Vieru
130 mm x 205 mm
272 pages
ISBN : 2020907712
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"The other evening, I decided to go to a concert. On my way there, I glimpsed a fascinated reader in the Métro: the latest publication in some series of thrillers or other. "Who can still buy books like that?", I thought. "Who can read them?" I can, I said to myself, and right through without stopping, on those rare occasions when I place myself in the situation of having to get past the first ten pages.

At the concert, I heard Kagel's Kauntrimiusik, almost an hour of music. Never had I listened so attentively. I found the concert fascinating in the highest degree and did not let the slightest detail escape me. The writing, the brilliant orchestration seemed to me matchless in their subtlety, ideally tongue-in-cheek. At the end, a sensation of virtuosity, of hollowness. Take away the virtuosity, and there's just about nothing left. I realised that a fascinating work is generally a work that forces you to follow it right to the end, when, at bottom, it doesn't really interest you.

I read Cioran around fifteen years ago, as a fascinated reader: from one end to the other. His talent, his virtuosity had forced me to do so. I prefer his books to any thriller, just as I prefer Kagel's mosic to any chansonnette. However untimely they wished to be, Cioran and Kagel wonderfully embody their period: that of the tongue in cheek, one might as well say of mannerism, of being more brilliant than what one has to say. Who today is brave enough to speak entirely literally, without stylistic flourishes? The tongue-in-cheek approach, mannerism, seem to have a long career in front of them. But let us not venture a forecast: the eternity that lies before us is sometimes rather brief.'

Andreï Vieru (translated by Charles Johnston)

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