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We all need to be let alone —not just Greta Garbo

18 April 2020

9:00 AM

18 April 2020

9:00 AM

A History of Solitude David Vincent

Polity, pp.336, 25

‘You’re never alone with a Strand,’ went the misbegotten advertisement for a new cigarette in 1959. What the copywriter didn’t realise is that smokers often smoke to be alone. As Mass Observation had reported a decade earlier:

In an increasingly gregarious world, where fewer and fewer habits and pastimes are entirely individual, the cigarette remains for most people a pleasure that, whatever its social significance, can be enjoyed in entire solitude, and a pleasure that remains entirely individual.

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