Emil Cioran often likened the experience of abandoning his native Romanian for French to submitting to a straitjacket.2 Indeed, the language in which he would go on to secure his reputation was itself, he wrote, best understood as 'the combination of a straitjacket and a salon'.3 It was only by undergoing an 'exercise in ascesis',4 suspending his commitments to what he regarded as an earthier, less regimented tradition, that he had been able to don the garb of a French author, if still only as a 'Balkan reject'.5 The rigour and crispness of his adopted tongue flew in the face of his desire. The severity of its lucidity stifled his passions, or simply channelled them along directions deviating from their natural path. '[Y]et', Cioran went on to observe, 'it is precisely on account of this incompatibility that I have attached myself to this language'.6 So much so that what caused him the greatest grief of all was to see that '[t]oday, when this language is in full decline,... the French themselves do not seem to mind.' 7 Copyright