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Davy Hardcover – 1 Jan 1967

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 267 pages
  • Publisher: Dobson Books Ltd; 1st Edition edition (1 Jan. 1967)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0234779608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0234779606
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 20.5 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,427,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd on 22 July 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For some reason, it seems that quiet science fiction books like this one don't receive the attention they deserve. In this case, it seems almost criminal that this book is barely remembered and has often been out of print, as it is one of the best of the post-apocalyptic books ever written, ranking right up there with Walter M. Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz.
Davy, at the beginning of the book, is a randy teenager just coming into his manhood. Bonded out as an indentured servant to a tavern from the orphanage where he spent his early years, he chafes under the yoke of his status and dreams of better things - including bedding the tavern's daughter. In many ways, he's a typical teenager, worried about the mysteries of the opposite sex, status and racism, what the purpose of life is, and feeling that the adults around him are stupid and out of touch with the world. The world he occupies is one that is (very) slowly recovering from the holocaust that has destroyed our civilization, where what is our New England area is now split up into several nation-states, frequently at war with each other, and where the Holy Murcan church is, in many ways, the actual ruler of the territory. When Davy runs away from his bond-servantship, he starts on a journey of discovery, mainly about himself, but also about the ways of humans and the world at large. During his journey, he finds himself involved in the dirty nastiness of war, finds a lady (Nickie) he can totally immerse himself in, and is dragooned into becoming (briefly) a member of a new intellectual renaissance and a political leader.
Davy is exquisitely drawn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rod Williams on 22 Jun. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Several hundred years after nuclear war, Davy begins to write the story of his life.
After accidentally killing one of the guards in the village compound in which he grew up, Davy flees, narrowly avoiding getting involved in a territorial war, and joins up with various travellers - including a mutant, a man who claims to be his father, a travelling carnivale and finally some seafaring wanderers with whom he finally settles on an island in the Azores.
Initially illiterate, Davy is taught to read and write by an old lady in the travelling circus, and thus defies the controlling Church's prohibition on reading texts from before the Apocalypse.
In some ways this is a nostalgic look at an America in pioneering times, since society has regressed to that level, and confines itself to an area between Philadelphia and the Catskill mountains. The leader of the group that Davy joins makes some of his living by selling a universal Panacea, 'Mother Spinkton's Home Remedy', which is claimed to cure more or less everything.
The Church is portrayed as a restrictive and anachronistic force and there are signs that its power and influence are in decline.
Although not as powerful and original as 'A Mirror For Observers' this is a thoughtful and idiosyncratic work, very redolent of Simak in its yearning for a pastoral America, but at the same time critical of religious political control.
Overall it is a compelling portrait of a teenager's passage into adulthood and his changing attitude as he learns and experiences conceptual breakthroughs.
It is to be noted that the human mutations in this work are simply that. Refreshingly the 'Mues' that are encountered show no signs of fantastic powers but are merely severely brain-damaged and/or physically deformed.
It is perhaps too romantic a vision of a post-nuclear world, but then, the novel is not about that. It is about characters and their lives, all of which are beautifully portrayed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "simon_23" on 4 Dec. 2000
Format: Hardcover
Funny, sad, entertaining and thought provoking.
The adventures and development of a young man in a well drawn, technologically backward, post holocaust world ruled by a Theocracy.
The eponymous Davy is a sypathetic and 3 dimensional character. A believable, imperfect human being, who you can't help but like.
The "supporting" cast are also fully realised. Their world is fascinating and stays with you long after you have finished the book.
Not just for your science fiction fan - a book I would recommend for anyone.
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By kristof on 20 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Everything went OK.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
40 YEARS ON... 17 Nov. 2003
By Larry L. Looney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I first read this remarkable novel when I was 14 - about the age Davy was at the start of the book. It was 1964, and I was heavily into science fiction - it offered a loner full of teenage angst an escape from the everyday world. I made some amazing literary discoveries - most of them accidental, but some of the works I flipped over back then still ring true today. DAVY is one of those works.
The story is classified as science fiction mainly, I suppose, by virtue of the fact that it takes place in the future, after a brief (but devastating) nuclear war - a theme touched on by a great many works of the Cold War era. Beyond that, it could easily fit into the broader genre of literary fiction - it's well-written and imaginative enough to appeal to a wider spectrum of readers. The sci-fi label is enough to put some people off, and that's a shame - there's a lot of great literature that's filed there, and a lot of folks are missing out as a result.
Pangborn fashioned a very believable world in which Davy and his friends (and foes) could dwell - and he peopled it with characters that are easy to accept as well. Science and learning have fallen by the wayside in this setting - the once-mighty USA has crumbled into a number of smaller nations and city-states, most of them operating under what they term as democracy. They're a far cry from it. The Holy Murcan Church is very powerful, and exerts a lot of control over both sacred and secular matters - the governments, such as they are, bow to its will generally without much grumbling. Books have been banned as evil, leading as they did to sin and destruction in the Old Times (pre-war). The Days of Confusion followed, during which the Church arose from the ashes with the rest of the survivors, and consolidated its power.
Davy is a bondservant - born to a prostitute and left in a Church-run orphanage to grow up, he runs away from his job at an inn after losing his childhood (or finding his manhood, take your pick) with the innkeeper's daughter. The book recounts a number of his adventures - he travels alone in the wilderness for a while, falls in with a small group of other outcasts, joins up with Rumly's Ramblers (a sort of post-apocalyptic American version of gypsies) for a bit, journeys to Old City in Nuin where he meets the love of his life, falls into a place in the government with her (her uncle is a progressive regent), fights in an uprising, and goes into exile. He writes his story from that vantage point, looking back over a period of twenty years or so.
Along the way, Pangborn manages very deftly to make quite a few astute comments about the state of things in the world as it exists today, by way of `looking back' at them from Davy's perspective. He does so with a serious eye, but also with a large dose of humor - he's not afraid in the least of poking the world in the gut and then giving it a good Dutch rub on the head as it bends over, something it could mightily use now and again.
A lot of the place names that are used can be easily linked to current ones - `Murcan' is probably meant to be a bastardization of `American', `Nuin' is `New England', `Moha' relates to `Mohawk', &c. Others, like `Conicut', `Vairmant' and `Penn' are more obvious. It's also hilarious the way history has been twisted over the time of the Days of Confusion - with no books to keep it alive, many, many events are tied up together and confused, and these confusions themselves make for very wry and astute observations by both the author and his rough but lovable narrator.
It's a shame this book is out of print - it's one that should be made available again, a classic not only of the sci-fi genre, but of 60s literature. It should be on the shelf right alongside Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s astonishing A CANTICLE FOR LIEBOWITZ. DAVY is a dark vision of a `possible future' - one that we could all stand to learn a bit from in order to prevent it.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Edgar Pangborn's Greatest Achievement 19 Feb. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the pages of DAVY, the wonderful writer Edgar Pangborn created a world that he also made use of in the novels THE JUDGEMENT OF EVE and THE COMPANY OF GLORY and in numerous short stories. In those tales, a world-wide war and plague has decimated humanity and thrown the world back into a new dark age. Taking place within the limited confines of what had been the northeastern U.S., DAVY tells the story (in the leading character's own words with additional comments by his lover and his best friend) of his growth from birth to middle age under the questionable sanctions of "the Holy Murcan Church," a completely American (American/Murcan...get it?) outgrowth of the type of fundamentalist religious movements that are found in every contemporary country.
Containing elements of the same wonder found in HUCKLEBERRY FINN, TOM JONES, and THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, DAVY's finely-rendered characters, peoetic writing, and sense of time and place make for a novel well worth reading and re-reading. In the 36 years since its first publication, it has lost none of its timeliness.
The fact that such a wonderful book is not currently in print should be a matter of shame to St. Martin's Press, the original publishers of Edgar Pangborn's masterpiece. The fact that the works of Edgar Pangborn (who died in 1976) are not universally revered shames us all.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A Man in Truth 23 Aug. 2001
By Patrick Shepherd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
For some reason, it seems that quiet science fiction books like this one don't receive the attention they deserve. In this case, it seems almost criminal that this book is barely remembered and has often been out of print, as it is one of the best of the post-apocalyptic books ever written, ranking right up there with Walter M. Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz.

Davy, at the beginning of the book, is a randy teenager just coming into his manhood. Bonded out as an indentured servant to a tavern from the orphanage where he spent his early years, he chafes under the yoke of his status and dreams of better things - including bedding the tavern owner's daughter. In many ways, he's a typical teenager, worried about the mysteries of the opposite sex, status and racism, what the purpose of life is, and feeling that the adults around him are stupid and out of touch with the world. The world he occupies is one that is (very) slowly recovering from the holocaust that has destroyed our civilization, where what is our New England area is now split up into several nation-states, frequently at war with each other, and where the Holy Murcan church is, in many ways, the actual ruler of the territory. When Davy runs away from his bond-servantship, he starts on a journey of discovery, mainly about himself, but also about the ways of humans and the world at large. During his journey, he finds himself involved in the dirty nastiness of war, finds a lady (Nickie) he can totally immerse himself in, and is dragooned into becoming (briefly) a member of a new intellectual renaissance and a political leader.

Davy is exquisitely drawn. This is a person with thoughts and opinions that are immediately recognizable, from his ruminations about the causes of war and who fights them, to why people allow themselves to be led by leaders who are no better than tyrants, to questions about the validity of gods and the strictures of organized religions that always seem to prohibit those activities that are the most pleasurable in life. Recording his thoughts and experiences much later in life in a diary, he finds himself pursued by footnotes from his wife and best friend, footnotes that do much to illuminate both Davy himself as others see him and the world at large (and some of those footnotes are hilariously satirical and funny). He's not a world-saver, his actions won't turn the world upside-down by tomorrow, but bit by bit what he does really does have an effect, one that is quite visible by the book's end - an end that just might leave you with a strong case of melancholy tears.

In many ways, this book is reminiscent of Huckleberry Finn and Twains' acerbic comments on society and the foibles of humans, with a large dash of spice thrown in that might have come directly from Henry Fielding's Tom Jones - and in quality this book may be a match for those classics. Pangborn's prose style is near poetic, words so well arranged that the environs and situations are immediate and close, marvelously enhanced by both humor and pathos. His insights into the role of religion in everyday life, of average people coping with the vagaries of life, the stupidity and necessities of politics, war, and most especially just what love is and how it can transform a person's life, are clear and both well presented and well thought out. Emotionally satisfying, this book will make you think, and perhaps will change your own outlook on just what the purpose of living is. Nominated for the 1965 Hugo award, for my money it should have been the hands-down winner.

Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Ribald Reminiscing 23 Jan. 2002
By Greg Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Four centuries after the nuclear holocaust the United States are no longer united. What exists now are separate feudal countries who sporadically wage war against one another. Ruled by the ascetic doctrines of the Holy Murcan Church, society is deprived of technology, held in thrall by ignorance and fear. The holocaust still claims its victims with the high incidence of genetic mutations ("mues"), which must be killed on sight. The lack of hygiene and decent medical care also makes people susceptible to disease.
Red-headed Davy was born into this world and describes his life over the years, growing up as an ill-educated orphan, forced by the welfare system to work as a bond servant, until he runs away at 14, spending the next few years travelling with an assortment of wandering minstrels. Davy writes his account from an island in the Azores. He's one of a group of exiles who dared to question the teachings of the Church. Despite the improvement in his education, Davy's spirited writing is still riddled with slang.
Davy's world is so convincingly backward there were times when I forgot this book was set in the future. Another story people may be interested in is John Wyndham's novel "The Chrysalids" (1955). There are certain similarities between that book and "Davy". Like "Davy", "The Chrysalids" takes place in a post-holocaust world centuries hence, where life is strictly governed by the Church and mutants are treated as the spawn of the devil. The story is set around eastern Canada, not that far from the places mentioned in "Davy". Even the narrator's name is similar. (His name is David.) Although the character is not so preoccupied with sex and has less adventures than Davy, "The Chrysalids" is my personal preference; a book I read when I was 14. A lot of school kids hate it.
Overall, "Davy" is a light, easy read. I bought my copy second-hand, a 1976 edition, printed the year Edgar Pangborn died.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Sci-fi version of a boy's coming of age 31 Dec. 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel is by the famous fantasy author, Edgar Pangborn, and was first printed in 1964. This author is comparable to C. S. Lewis for fantasy, and to Mark Twain for a boy's coming of age story.
Set in a future world greatly distorted from ours, the novel tells the story of the boy Davy's coming of age. He is a poor lad, who grew up in an orphanage, then became a bonded servant from the age of nine. The main action of the story occurs when Davy is 14, and becoming a man.
Sex, of course, is his preocupation. His girlfriend is Emmia who's sixteen, and quite beyond his grasp. He runs away from his indenture, and becomes an outlaw in the strange, twisted society of the future.
If you took Huck Finn a thousand years into the future, you'd get Davy. Adventure after adventure, living by his wits, escaping by the skin of his teeth. These are the escapades for Davy. He joins a band of wanderers, and he becomes their chief.
Davy ends up in the Mediterranean, in a land called "Levannon", with his band. He has become a wise man, a leader, a Moses who has led his tribe to a promised land. Here he writes the story of his coming of age, and of his adventures along the way.
Take Mad Max, Huck Finn, and the book of Exodus, and you've got "Davy". Heavy with symbolism, the themes are love and caring, treachery and betrayal, leadership and guidance, the road well travelled, and the just reward. Throw in a twisted future society, which is a perversion of our current society.
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