Naipaul on accidie

Isabel Colegate quotes writer V. S. Naipaul’s book The Enigma of Arrival in describing Naipaul’s short visit to England and his eccentric landlord, reminiscent of the employers of ornamental hermits, themselves a bit strange. Dispensing with the background of his landlord, one sees instead a simple portrait of what often afflicts the recluse who is an involuntary solitary. Interestingly, accidie turned his landlord into a recluse, not the other way around (the hermit suffering accidie). That is a clue to the evolution of recluses generally, though not necessarily to the creation of hermits.

Writes Naipaul:

Here in the valley there now lived only my landlord, elderly, a bachelor, with people to look after him. Certain physical disabilities had now been added to the malaise of which I had no precise knowledge, but interpreted as something like accidie, the monk’s torpor or disease of the Middle Ages which was how his great security, his excessive worldly blessings, had taken him. The accidie had turned him into a recluse, accessible only to his intimate friends.