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The Deptford Trilogy: "Fifth Business", "The Manticore" and "World of Wonders" (King Penguin) Paperback – 29 Sep 1983


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Paperback, 29 Sep 1983
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Product details

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (29 Sept. 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140065008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140065008
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,886,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Robertson Davies (1913 1995) was born and raised in Ontario, and was educated at a variety of schools, including Upper Canada College, Queen s University, and Balliol College, Oxford. He had three successive careers: as an actor with the Old Vic Company in England; as publisher of the Peterborough Examiner; and as university professor and first Master of Massey College at the University of Toronto, from which he retired in 1981 with the title of Master Emeritus. He was one of Canada s most distinguished men of letters, with several volumes of plays and collections of essays, speeches, and belles lettres to his credit. As a novelist, he gained worldwide fame for his three trilogies: The Salterton Trilogy, The Deptford Trilogy, and The Cornish Trilogy, and for later novels Murther & Walking Spirits and The Cunning Man. His career was marked by many honours: He was the first Canadian to be made an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he was a Companion of the Order of Canada, and he received honorary degrees from twenty-six American, Canadian, and British universities." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
I first read the three books that make up the 'Deptford Trilogy' nearly twenty years ago. Re-reading them recently, I was staggered by how much had stuck in my mind. Not just stuck, but had been working away in the intervening two decades subtly shaping my thoughts. Robertson Davies' characters are beguiling creations - on the one hand they seem strangely familiar, on the other they are larger-than-life archetypes. And that latter point is perhaps no accident: Davies was one of few authors who really understood what Jung was talking about (the middle book of this trilogy sets out a model Jungian analysis that must be the envy of many a therapist). The 'Deptford Trilogy' is exquisitely crafted - intricately plotted, beautifully written. It is a gem of contemporary literature, and a great pleasure to read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Caroline Galwey on 10 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
As I grow older I find myself getting more resistant to being drawn into fictitious worlds - so much has been done before and there seems to be so little time left for one's own life. But although Robertson Davies's novels are long, I make an exception for them. I would recommend The Deptford Trilogy to begin with. It is endlessly humane, humourous, well-balanced and absorbing. A saga that begins with deceptively gritty realism in a small town in Canada before the First World War ends up ramifying throughout the twentieth century and through much of Europe and America, and taking off into all sorts of social arguments and mystical implications, before looping back to tie up the original theme with a weight of accumulated wisdom.
It's one of those books you can open almost anywhere and be drawn into any one of many character arcs and plots. The characters can seem larger than life, but one comes to feel that maybe all human life would be as enthralling as this, if we could hear everybody's hidden stories, and see them through the proper, vivid colours of myth.
Other reviewers are right to say that the story tails off just a little in the final volume - but even tailed-off Robertson Davies is more interesting than most writers working at full stretch.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Oct. 2000
Format: Paperback
This trilogy is the perfect antidote to anyone who feels that the 20th (never mind the 21st) century lost its sense of the spiritual and of enduring values. Beautifully-written, the books chart the interweaving lives of a group of people who start out in a small Canadian town, and those with whom their lives become entangled. We meet a good man who is genuinely appealing and attractive - an almost impossible achievement in a world where the devil usually has the best tunes. And we can relish the slow workings-out of destiny as the ramifications of deeds spread out over the years and the continents. It is surely no accident that is a Jungian analyst with a sensitivity to the mystery of life (and not a reductionist Freudian, Adlerian or the like) who works with the protagonist in the second of these three deeply rewarding works. These books are rich and warm, combining an earthy realism with a profound sense of the spiritual.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr Daniel W Sutton on 21 July 2010
Format: Paperback
This is beautifully weighted storytelling. A good tale well told, with complex, living characters, which advocates its main points forcefully but not intrusively.

Ostensibly a murder mystery told from three points of view the Deptford stories use those confessionals to illuminate many complex characters. The story unfolds at an unforced pace. Indeed, one of the beautiful things about the books is that the characters telling the story are interested in telling you their own story in their own way at their own pace and for their own reasons. In the first book, Ramsey diverts himself and the reader from the life and death of Boy Staunton to discuss his own work on obscure saints, glossing over his own wartime record. In the last Magnus drip feeds his own story in such away as to wring the maximum effect from it's telling from some of the other characters. The characters live because they tell their own stories for their own reasons. To enjoy this book you'll just have to let them get on with it.

The book is an encouragement to being your own person in your own way and to the strength and happiness that can be gained from knowing yourself. The Jungian approach to archetypes was fascinating and exposure to it has improved my own storytelling.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 3 Sept. 2002
Format: Paperback
The three interconnecting life stories span some seventy years from the early twentieth century; yet the book has considerable lightness of touch compared to most historical sagas. It is immensely rich in its characters and descriptions, which cover the First World War, life on the road with a travelling freakshow and a spell of Jungian analysis and a wealth of human experience from childhood to old age. Disappointingly, the narrative does tail off slightly in the latter chapters of the "World of Wonders", the third of the trilogy, namely because the characters involved seem like historical relics, making it frustratingly difficult to identify with their experiences, which is never the case during the first two books. The combination of history, mythology and differing viewpoints makes these books appealing on a variety of levels from rattling good read to thoroughly intellectually stimulating.
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