- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 59 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 2 Dec. 2011
- Language: English
- ASIN: B006H5CW1W
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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The Manticore: The Deptford Trilogy, Book 2 Audiobook – Unabridged
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This second volume shifts attention to his son David Staunton. The story opens in Zurich where David Staunton is starting a course of psychotherapy following the death of his father. He believes he is going mad.
As the therapy progresses we examine in detail Staunton's relationship with his mother and step-mother, his sister Caroline, nurse Netty, schoolmaster Dunstan Ramsay (the narrator of Fifth Business), David's first girlfriend Judy and centrally Boy Staunton himself. It rapidly becomes clear to the reader that David Staunton has been psychologically overwhelmed by his dominant father. In a classic love-hate relationship David has judged everyone else through the distorting lens of his own idolised view of his father while simultaneously trying to distance himself in his own life and career.
As the narrative advances through a recapitulation of David Staunton's biography we see him gradually re-evaluating his relationships under the skilful hand of his therapist. In fact this book is a wonderful advertisement for the Jungian approach. In a final escapade in the Swiss mountains (in the reunited company of Dunstan Ramsay, Liesl Vitzliputzli and Magnus Eisengrim) David undergoes a symbolic "rebirthing": we leave confident that he can progress the rest of his life developing his new-found maturity.
I am now looking forwards to the final volume, World of Wonders, where we learn more about the magician Magnus Eisengrim.
A Manticore, by the way, is a mythical being with the face of a man, the body of a lion and a stinging tail. It is the image David Staunton's unconscious chooses for himself.
Anyway, I read it. It's great. Only Davies could have taken Jungian psychology and interspersed it throughout this novel so evenly and so effectively. A book like this could easily have become boring or heavy, but it is always entertaining and infinitely informative. David Staunton's life is by some measures mediocre, but his personal journey is deep and lively, as few writers could have portrayed it.
It is also one of the few books that actually change your view on the world. That is an over-used phrased often misplaced, but it is true here; as an introduction to Jungian psychology, this is as good as it gets: all the ideas and facts to be found in a text, but with a superior story woven with it.
Simply put, read the thing!!
The tale of David Stauton and his search for self-realization begins in Zurich, where he has committed himself to Jungian analysis under the guide of a capable, palpably European psychotherapist. Readers who shy from the realm of psychology may be a bit put off by this doctor-patient interplay as it frames the majority of the novel's dialogue. Rest assured, however, that Davies' extensive knowledge and illustration of Jungian archetypes is not merely an embellishment, but serves as the catalyst for the protagonist's evolution. His self-discovery builds to a poignant, surreal climax under Davies' capable hand. By the novel's end the reader feels as if a part of himself is invested in David Stauton's character and his ascension.
Essentially, Davies is a synthesis of intellectual energy and damn good story-telling. The novel's references are revealing, but not essential to its development. Each of The Manticore's many characters is unique and multi-dimentional in his or her own way, and there are plenty of humorous incidents to keep the half-attentive readers engaged. If you find yourself wondering what becomes of David Stauton, however, you're out of luck. The Deptford Trilogy does not pick up where it left off, though this can be viewed as a loss AND a gain, assuming you enjoy this novel as much as I did.
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."
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Totally loving them all! I'm now a Robertson Davies fan!
One thing that tends to happen in good stories is what I call the envelope effect. This is when something in the front of the novel informs the rest of the story by serving as its envelope. We have two such devices in this story. First there is the title, which refers to "Fifth Business" as an opera term. It relates to the role of the baritone in opera. The tenor is the leading character, the soprano his love interest, and so forth, all the way down to the baritone, who is fifth business, after all those other parts and voices. That's how Ramsay lived, by putting others ahead of himself. As he goes through life as "Fifth Business", the reader becomes more fascinated by and sympathetic to his character. Another envelope is the first sentence in the story: "My lifelong involvement with Mrs. Dempster began at 5:58 o'clock p.m. on 27 December 1908 at which time I was ten years and seven months old." The entire rest of the story fits into that envelope, it is fascinating how Davies pulls that off.
This is the first novel in a series of three novels called the Deptford Trilogy, and it is sneaky good. As I said earlier, I was disappointed early on, when it seemed to be just a memoir, but the story and its telling are sneaky good. By the end of the novel, you will be very glad you read it.