The Joy of Benign Misanthropy

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In his autobiography Blessings in Disguise, Alec Guinness wrote about a retreat at a Cistercian monastery. One Cistercian asked the actor what he thought was the most difficult aspect of monastic life. Guinness’ account is classic:

“Other monks” I promptly replied. He gave me a long quizzical look, of the kind Edith Sitwell was so expert at giving, and said, with some solemnity, “Yes!” I felt I had gone to the…

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