I have been re-reading one of Canadian author’s Robertson Davies (1913-1995) trilogies. He was the most remarkable author, and his books are superb – I re-read one of the trilogies – the Cornish Trilogy: What’s Bred in the Bone; Rebel Angels; Lyre of Orpheus; theSalterton Trilogy: Tempest-tost; Leaven of Malice; Mixture of Frailties and the Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business; Manticore; World of Wonders (click on one of these links to read about the plots) – almost every year and have done since I discovered him over 20 years ago. The rather lovely covers to the left are from the books I originally bought, they are falling to bits so I may indulge in the new look covers below.
His novels are set in backwoods Canada and small university towns, in a German schloss and a vibrant Toronto, and very much in the wonderful, terrifying and unpredictable intersections of mind and heart. They feature keen observations of play and opera productions, academics, myth-making and myth-using, and Davies casts a beady eye over the denizens of the art world, from detractors and patrons to creators and collectors.
These are rich books, stuffed full of mysterious allusions, esoteric details and arcane information, while being psychologically acute and just excellent stories. I find that a certain amount of the other reading I do, in between Davies feasts, simply brings new pleasure and insight to the revisiting…
They are the closest I have come in the Anglo book world to the experience of re-reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, and feeling that you are actually reading a new book, or that just possibly, the story has re-written itself while the covers were closed.
I’m not going to say too much – just google the man – but if you are feeling like trying something new, that will surprise, excite and fascinate, startle and delight, then I cannot recommend him highly enough….