Robertson Davies

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Robertson Davies

1mountebank
Editado: Dez 7, 2008, 8:33 pm

Hello friends: In the last two days I have happened upon three Robertson Davies books at second-hand shops/sales: The Cunning Man, Fifth Business and The Lyre of Orpheus.

Although I have read The Merry Heart, I'm not sure where I should begin in terms of Robertson's fiction. The tried and true Fifth Business? Work my way backwards by starting with Cunning Man?

I would certainly enjoy your thoughts, if you have any favourites. Which is your favourite Davies trilogy?

2Cecilturtle
Dez 7, 2008, 9:13 pm

I have not read all of his trilogies (I've read Depford, Salterton and parts of Cornish), but the Depford trilogy is definitely a winner, my favorite of the three being World of Wonders. I was a little disappointed with The Cunning Man, mostly because it refers a lot to the previous novel (which I haven't read) so it seemed somewhat disjointed.
My clear vote to your question: Fifth Business!

3mountebank
Dez 7, 2008, 11:21 pm

Thanks very much for your advice, Cecilturtle! I get the feeling that Davies is something one must enter into deliberately, so I certainly appreciate having a seasoned reader's advice as to where to jump in. Thank you!

4mountebank
Editado: Dez 22, 2008, 11:34 am

Thanks again for your recommendation, Cecilturtle, Fifth Business is wonderful.

In the meantime I've happened upon another RD tome: High Spirits. This is a collection of the ghost stories Davies told at the annual Christmas party when he was Master of Massey College. I could just imagine him telling these before a roaring fire, mantelpiece festooned with pine boughs and holly... High Spirits may become required reading at my house every Christmas now (along with that 'other' ghost story: A Christmas Carol).

Happy reading and happy holidays everyone!

5Booksloth
Dez 30, 2008, 9:39 am

A little late in the day but I just wanted to add a nudge for The Deptford Trilogy, one of my favourite books ever. I've read Salterton and also The Cunning Man, Murther & Walking Spirits and have High Spirits by the bed for the occasional dip-into but I'm scared to start The Cornish Trilogy. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for a couple of years now and every time I look at it I'm reminded of the sheer joy of discovering this wonderful author. Now I'm dreading the time when I'll have finished all his books and have nothing more to look forward to (I don't mean in life, generally, just RD books). Any suggestions as to how I should handle this?

6lilithcat
Dez 30, 2008, 10:49 am

time I look at it I'm reminded of the sheer joy of discovering this wonderful author.

Oh, do I know what you mean! One day, I innocently said to someone with whom I was doing a book trade, "Just send me something by a Canadian author whom you'd recommend." A Mixture of Frailties showed up on my doorstep, and I was hooked.

I've become a big fan of his essays as well as his fiction.

7frahealee
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8frahealee
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9frahealee
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10frahealee
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11rabbitprincess
Jan 8, 2019, 8:12 pm

I'd probably be reading one of Davies' essay collections. I have The Merry Heart, A Voice from the Attic, and One Half of Robertson Davies.

12frahealee
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13WeeTurtle
Jan 9, 2019, 8:15 pm

I'll give it a go. The Deptford Trilogy sounds interesting from the descriptions. I haven't read a thing by this guy so it will all be new to me.

One book in two weeks can be tight for me, depending on how the reading goes. No idea what I'll be doing later in this year.

14LynnB
Jan 19, 2019, 10:44 am

I'd prefer to read novels over essays, but I'll basically read anything.
I would rather read a trilogy than one book from each trilogy.

15frahealee
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16LynnB
Jan 19, 2019, 1:04 pm

I'm up for the Cornish Trilogy!

17WeeTurtle
Jan 19, 2019, 10:53 pm

PSA for any non-Canadians here, but our Thanksgiving is in October for some reason. Black Friday stay remains on the usual Black Friday. Not sure why we have that one.

Would it be too much for people to pick a trilogy they like but follow the same readings weeks? Share and compare?

18LynnB
Editado: Jan 20, 2019, 10:03 am

I'd like that.

And our Thanksgiving is earlier because our growing season is shorter than most of the US's -- I think??
And we have Black Friday because, like our fellow capitalists, it's good for business.

19WeeTurtle
Mar 29, 2019, 2:01 am

And lo!, I wandered amongst the booksale pile, labeling the discarded, and upon completion I did espie atop the uppermost tower, a man-beast of dapper garb and its name was Manticore, whereupon I did think that 'knowest I this man-beast' and above his genteel image the word of "Davies" was wrote and thought I, "I shall purchase this book" and I did purchase the book.

The library gods have spoken!

20mathgirl40
Mar 29, 2019, 7:54 am

Somehow, I missed spotting this thread earlier. I'll be happy to join in a group read later this year. I'd recently finished a reread of the Cornish trilogy, so I won't be choosing those books, but I'll be happy to follow along and contribute to the conversation.

I was hoping to reread the second and third books of the Salterton trilogy, and I've got a couple of non-fiction books by and about Davies, so I may read those alongside the rest of you reading the Cornish trilogy. I'm currently reading The Cunning Man and enjoying it a great deal.

21frahealee
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22WeeTurtle
Out 8, 2019, 4:03 am

It's October, but I'm not sure I'm reading for a new book yet. I'm still very slowly reading the same ones.

23LynnB
Out 8, 2019, 5:27 am

I'm ready any time....meaning now or whenever in the future. I'd forgotten about this wonderful idea. Maybe we can nail down a time frame now so we'll be ready?

November? Kick off 2020 (i.e. January?) Tell us what you think!

24frahealee
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25LynnB
Nov 4, 2019, 7:26 am

all right...I'll join you. We use this thread to discuss the books. People can join whenever they want....just watch for spoilers!

26LynnB
Nov 6, 2019, 12:10 pm

I've started The Cornish Trilogy by Robertson Davies. I'm just a few pages into The Rebel Angels but I think I'll like it.l

27WeeTurtle
Nov 7, 2019, 5:22 am

My copy of Manticore is still on my shelf. I could perhaps pick it up next but I'm back into Early Reviewers again. Short books though, if I would get a move on.

28LynnB
Nov 11, 2019, 8:55 am

I finished The Rebel Angels and enjoyed it. The quality of the writing pulled me in from the very beginning. I'm about 1/4 through What's Bred in the Bone.

29LynnB
Nov 12, 2019, 7:30 am

I'm mostly enjoying What's Bred in the Bone, but I could use without the daimon and the recording angel. Their conversations distract me from the main story, even though they are interesting. I'm just not a supernatural kind of person.

30LynnB
Nov 23, 2019, 10:52 am

I've finished The Cornish Trilogy....anyone else reading it?

31WeeTurtle
Editado: Nov 24, 2019, 1:36 am

Alas, I'm still staring at my book. Things have been wonky so not a lot of reading done. I've been functioning my making lists and forgot to put the book on it.

Which is the series with Manticore? That's the book I've got. I'm not sure if I can read it straight up without knowledge of anything else.

32LynnB
Nov 24, 2019, 10:19 am

That's the second book in The Deptford Trilogy, along with Fifth Business and World of Wonders. I read Fifth Business about 25 years ago, but don't remember it much. I can't say how Manticore will stand alone. Since it's the middle book in a trilogy, I probably would want to read Fifth Business first. But that's just me!

Robertson Davies writes very well, with complex themes and an assumption that his readers have a good general education. I like his writing very much.

33gypsysmom
Nov 24, 2019, 6:06 pm

>31 WeeTurtle: When I read The Manticore I read it out of sequence i.e. I read Fifth Business and then World of Wonders and then read The Manticore. That worked well for me so it possibly would work to read it on its own. It is quite a different setting and involves the son of one of the three characters that are central in the other two books. You might miss some of the allusions but since it really is more about Jungian analysis than anything else I think whether you would like it would depend on how interested you are (or will become) in analysis.

34frahealee
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35frahealee
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36frahealee
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37LynnB
Mar 1, 2020, 8:24 am

thank you, frahealee! I enjoyed your post very much. I have The Cunning Man on my TBR shelves, and am considering reading the Fifth Business trilogy at some point.

38frahealee
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39gypsysmom
Mar 1, 2020, 8:08 pm

>36 frahealee: Once you have gotten through the trilogies (or even before if you want a great example of Davies' wit and wordplay) I recommend High Spirits the collection of the short stories he wrote every year that he was at Massey College.

40Bcteagirl
Jun 17, 2020, 1:53 am

I am in a short story kick so will check out high spirits thank you!