"Few things are rarer than a performer who takes a broader view of the world of art. One such artist was Alec Guinness, who published four books, all of them nominally autobiographical, that offer evidence of his aesthetic cultivation and unusually wide-ranging interests. In "A Positively Final Appearance," a 1999 volume of journal entries written toward the end of his long life, he tossed off this passing remark: "For me there are two salves to apply when I feel spiritually bruised—listening to a Haydn symphony or sonata (his clear common sense always penetrates) and seeking out something in Montaigne's essays. This morning, in spite of the promise of a bright cloudless day, I woke curmudgeonly and disapproving of the world and most of its inhabitants. Montaigne pulled me up sharply." Has it ever occurred to anyone else to yoke those two great spokesmen for the civilized virtues of the Age of Reason? If so, it's news to me."