Fifth Business (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 6 Oct 2005
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About the Author
Robertson Davies (1913-1995) was an actor, a University Professor and a writer. He is the author of The Salterton Trilogy, The Deptford Trilogy and The Cornish Trilogy.
M.G. Vassanji was born in Kenia and raised in Tanzania. His first novel, The Gunny Sack, won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1990. His other books include Uhuru Street, No New Land, Amriika, and The In-Between World of Vikram Lall. He lives in Toronto.
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Top Customer Reviews
A friend of mine (who recommended the books, and to whom I will be forever grateful) put it this way: "Reading Robertson Davies is like sitting in a plush, wood-paneled library--in a large leather chair with a glass of excellent brandy and a crackling fire--and being captivated with a fabulous tale spun by a wonderful raconteur."
It's a classic meditation on religion and the world, the flesh and the devil, and great fun too.
Along the way, the reader meets colorful characters - priests and sinners - the enliven the story.
A book that is therapy bound by leather.
The novel is cast as Dunstan Ramsay's memoirs, to be read by the Headteacher at the school at which he teaches and has taught for the past 40 years. He has not married, but has had relationships with women; and he has fought in the first world war. All that, and his memoirs of his early life in a small Canadian town I found held the interest well.
A less happy reading experience for me was the action around which he finds himself 'fifth business": not so much the career of his friend who makes it big in business and politics as his dealings with a woman he decides is a saint on the basis of three miracles, and his career as a 'hagiographer' writing lives of saints; and her son, a magician. And this material - the metaphorical, the religious, and (to judge from the Introduction) Jungian archetypes in everyday life is at the core of the 'thinking' material in the novel.
But the novel is tautly and cleverly plotted; episodes do not outstay their welcome; and the idea of an oblique 'take' on the lives of others is unusual and interesting.
Unlike today's "fiction lite," "Fifth Business" is the kind of book you wish you could read for the first time all over again. Fiction aficionados rightly regard it as Davies' masterpiece. One day a boy throws a snowball, and the world changes. This is "Fifth Business." Haven't read it yet? I envy you!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this book, I read somewhere that is was the idea for John Irving's book "A Prayer for Owen Meany", but really apart from the freak accident at the start of... Read morePublished on 1 April 2014 by Glorybe
Loved this! It is a real treasure and I couldn't believe I had never heard of Robertson Davies before. Read morePublished on 14 April 2013 by s l capaldi
Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy is a strange, slightly magical trio of fictional biographies, all of which originate in the small Canadian town of Deptford. Read morePublished on 1 May 2011 by EA Solinas
Dunstan Ramsey has spent 45 years as a school-master at a famous Canadian school and has taken umbrage at the flippant tone of the piece in the school magazine writing up his... Read morePublished on 3 Nov. 2010 by Nigel Seel
Davies' great skill lies in his ability to write beautiful prose in an effortless way. He doesn't show off with flamboyant metaphors and flowery writing - his style is very... Read morePublished on 12 Feb. 2009 by Sanderae
It is at this point in time that I wish to revoke my former statement about this novel by Robertson Davies. Read morePublished on 21 July 1999