Books: Yearning

A GUARD WITHIN

by SARAH FERGUSON 195 pages. Pantheon. $6.95.

"Have we not, in the face of universal dilettantism, the consolation of possessing, with regard to pain, a professional competence?" asks the Rumanian philosopher E.M. Cioran, no mean student of suffering himself. The answer is an emphatic yes, as every publisher's list of autobiographies proves.

In the crowded presence of such experts, what keeps this remarkable little confessional from being just one more 3-o'clock-in-the-morning scream? The events themselves are unexceptional, almost classically banal as middle-class pain goes. Sarah Ferguson is a poor little rich English girl, given to pills and a bit too much...