The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business, The Manticore, And World Of Wonders

by Robertson Davies

Penguin Publishing Group | October 1, 1990 | Trade Paperback

The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business, The Manticore, And World Of Wonders is rated 4.2857 out of 5 by 7.
Fifth Business
Ramsay is a man twice born, a man who has returned from the hell of the battle-grave at Passchendaele in World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross and destined to be caught in a no man''s land where memory, history, and myth collide. As Ramsay tells his story, it begins to seem that from boyhood, he has exerted a perhaps mystical, perhaps pernicious, influence on those around him. His apparently innocent involvement in such innocuous events as the throwing of a snowball or the teaching of card tricks to a small boy in the end prove neither innocent nor innocuous. Fifth Business stands alone as a remarkable story told by a rational man who discovers that the marvelous is only another aspect of the real.

The Manticore
Around a mysterious death is woven a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived trilogy of novels. Luring the reader down labyrinthine tunnels of myth, history and magic, THE DEPTFORD TRILOGY provides an exhilarating antidote to a world from where ''the fear and dread and splendour of wonder have been banished''.

World of Wonders
This is the third novel in Davies''s major work, The Deptford Trilogy. This novel tells the life story of the unfortunate boy introduced in The Fifth Business, who was spirited away from his Canadian home by one of the members of a traveling side show, the Wanless World of Wonders.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 832 pages, 7.72 × 5.07 × 1.46 in

Published: October 1, 1990

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0140147551

ISBN - 13: 9780140147551

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fifth Business Fifth Business is a smartly written exploration of human emotions and personality. It follows the life of Dunstable, later Dunstan Ramsey as he battles with guilt because of an event in his past, researches saints and seeks intellectual fulfillment, and tries to reach a sort of psychological peace with himself, in a letter written to the headmaster of the school at which he teaches. It stylishly blends the themes of guilt and of complimenting personalities with Carl Jung’s theories on the psyche. Author Robertson Davies uses symbolism, dichotomy, and brilliant characterization to achieve a piece of literature that is not only engaging and entertaining, but artistically united. A common theme seen throughout the novel is the amazing power of guilt. Paul is plagued his entire life by guilt for his mother, a feeling imposed by his father, who constantly blamed the child for her condition. He comes to resent his family, and responds by shutting his mother out of his life entirely, and running away with the circus. Conversely, Percy, the one who is the most responsible of the three for Mary’s accident, feels no remorse, and in fact blocks the entire incident from his mind. He does not run away from his guilt; he is not even aware of its presence. This is an idea that Davies’ presents often in the novel, that guilt is an emotion so powerful that it can overcome memory, and can tailor it to fit an individual’s image of himself. Dunstable is haunted by a feeling of responsibility for Mary Dempster for the better part of his life. He feels that he is directly responsible for Paul’s premature birth and Mary’s sad mental state. Dunstan is haunted by a feeling of responsibility for Mary Dempster for the better part of his life. He feels that he is directly responsible for Paul’s premature birth and Mary’s sad mental state, and he is left to bear the guilt of the three alone. He devotes a large part of his life and livelihood to Mary’s cause. Their guilt is represented in the novel by the stone that the young Percy Staunton put in the snowball that hit Mary. Dunstable carries the stone around from the day of the incident, until the day that he finally confronts Percy with it, a period of over fifty years. In the end Percy dies with the stone in his mouth, a symbol of his acceptance of the guilt. The beauty of the stone metaphor is that until the end it is not mentioned directly. It is indirectly referred to a few times: “But I pelted home (pausing only for a moment at the scene of the accident) …” (Davies 3) and: “I picked up a few things I wanted - particularly something I had long kept hidden - and got out as fast is I could.” (Davies 101) which lends the impression of it being a constant understated presence in the story, just as the guilt is. It is this subtle symbolism, woven intricately through the novel, which makes Fifth Business the masterpiece that it is. The elements in the story work together to form a beautiful and unique whole. The story clearly illustrates the effect of guilt on a person, and how it can completely alter his life and memories, and how our lives can be completed and enriched, or at least made more interesting by finding a complimenting personality. These two themes are consistent with Jung’s theories, which are seen throughout the novel. Altogether, Fifth Business is a stylish piece of literary art that is both interesting and intellectual, an all too rare combination.
Date published: 2004-10-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read... I liked this trilogy very much. My favourite of the three novels is the Manticore. I liked how Davies' follows through with the characters over the years. This was one of my favourite reads.
Date published: 2001-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful literary gem! Robertson Davies has sadly left our world. And what we have is a wonderful corpus of literature that is imaginative, provacative and captivating. Among his excellent writing, the Deptford trilogy is his very best. Of the three, I would say that Fifth Business is the best book, an almost cartain influence upon John Irving's Prayer for Owen Meany. At once, Davies weaves a tale of childhood and tragedy, mysticism and religion. I was enthralled by each book. Davies' wonderful ability to write trilogies that use the same characters, but from the different perspectives of his many characters is brilliant. Here, we have three autonomous stories that intersect and overlap, but one could in fact read the trilogy in reverse order and still find that it coheres. His humour is unmatched. Davies writes with a biting wit that cuts with razor sharpness. He uses an ironic narrative that will always not only make one laugh, but laugh thoughtfully. He makes us think of life and love. Davies was never appreciated as much as he should have been outside of Canada. These books are timeless and worth being on anyone's shelf.
Date published: 2000-12-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating, Brilliant, Breathtaking.... I moved to Canada in 1992. English is my second language. I didn't think I'd enjoy reading any English fiction of hundreds of pages. I hadn't read any books by Canadian writers before The Deptford Trilogy. I got the book from Richmond Public Library after my dance partner James recommended it to me. Once I started reading, I was hooked. The story was superb. The lines were intelligent and very theatrical, which I certainly appreciated. I want to recommend this book to those who are thinking to buy books for their families and friends. I can't wait to read the other two trilogies Mr. Davies wrote, Cornish Trilogy and Salterton Trilogy.
Date published: 2000-11-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Sometimes 1 word is better than 50 While I would not venture to imply in any way shape or form that it is possible Davies is a sub-standard, poor quality writer. I would say that, as I've just done, sometimes fewer words is better. Not to say that the books are too long, but this is to say that he seems to write in a manner attempting to prove to everybody how smart he is, and how many more words he knows than everybody else.
Date published: 2000-10-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I could not choose a "review title" The deptford trilogy is an especially good read.
Date published: 1999-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW! WOW! A friend said I would love it and I could not put it down. I read the trilogy in 5 days! Possible the best Canadian novels I have ever read! You would be a fool to not read these works by the master Davies.
Date published: 1999-07-17

– More About This Product –

The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business, The Manticore, And World Of Wonders

by Robertson Davies

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 832 pages, 7.72 × 5.07 × 1.46 in

Published: October 1, 1990

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0140147551

ISBN - 13: 9780140147551

From the Publisher

Fifth Business
Ramsay is a man twice born, a man who has returned from the hell of the battle-grave at Passchendaele in World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross and destined to be caught in a no man''s land where memory, history, and myth collide. As Ramsay tells his story, it begins to seem that from boyhood, he has exerted a perhaps mystical, perhaps pernicious, influence on those around him. His apparently innocent involvement in such innocuous events as the throwing of a snowball or the teaching of card tricks to a small boy in the end prove neither innocent nor innocuous. Fifth Business stands alone as a remarkable story told by a rational man who discovers that the marvelous is only another aspect of the real.

The Manticore
Around a mysterious death is woven a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived trilogy of novels. Luring the reader down labyrinthine tunnels of myth, history and magic, THE DEPTFORD TRILOGY provides an exhilarating antidote to a world from where ''the fear and dread and splendour of wonder have been banished''.

World of Wonders
This is the third novel in Davies''s major work, The Deptford Trilogy. This novel tells the life story of the unfortunate boy introduced in The Fifth Business, who was spirited away from his Canadian home by one of the members of a traveling side show, the Wanless World of Wonders.

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.

From Our Editors

Gathering in one volume Fifth Business, The Manticore and World of Wonders, The Deptford Trilogy collects three novels about the lives of three men from a small Ontario town who are bound and transformed by a jarring memory from their childhood. From the wayward path of a maliciously thrown snowball crumbles all sorts of issues that take a lifetime to iron out, from the dementia-suffering child of a premature birth to the guilt-ridden life of the snowball thrower. All three involved are somehow haunted - one to death - by this accident. It is a testament to Robertson Davies' power as a writer that he can so eerily depict the exponentially grave aftermath of an otherwise minute moment.