This introductory essay provides a background to the writings of Peter Sloterdijk. It begins with a discussion of writings translated into English in the late 1980s - the Critique of Cynical Reason and Thinker on Stage - but then shows how Sloterdijk's work has developed and changed over the last two decades. Particular attention is paid to his writings on Europe and politics; the three-volume book Sphären [Spheres]; and his most recent writings on globalisation. The suggestion is that with the extensive forthcoming programme of translations and renewed interest in his work the scene is set for an effective 'second coming' of Sloterdijk. This theme issue of Society and Space contributes to that work of translation and interpretation.