13.10.12

Robertson Davies - The Deptford Trilogy

Rating 8.2

From the snapshots you can find online, Robertson Davies looked like Charles Darwin with a touch of Santa Claus.

The Canadian author had a long white forked beard that was strikingly demode in the 1970s when he delivered the three books of this excellent Deptford Trilogy.
And yet, don't be fooled by the first appearances. You better look more carefully at the photos of Mr Davies. If you do that, you will perceive genuine wit and an eager inquisitiveness in his eyes as well as the intimidating irony of his slightly raised eyebrows.

This man knew what he did and always kept himself up-to-date with the long times he lived in. If Robertson Davies chose to look from another age deserting the barbershops of Ontario, that was not a sign of personal carelessness but very much a deliberate intellectual disguise.

Davies' old-fashioned long white forked beard had at the same time the gravitas of the British born naturalist and the bonhomie of the popular gift-bearer. And in between Darwin's meticolous but revolutionary cataloguing and classifying specimens and Father Christmas' magic but punctual efficiency in delivering airborne gifts, Robertson Davies' prose might be found.

No surprises that reading The Deptford Trilogy to me has been like embarking on the Beagle with a flying open sleigh on the deck ready to take off at the author's call.
Captain Davies led our brig-sloop time-machine through his story with remarkable confidence and ease leaving the cold Canadian shores behind with the occasional brat throwing a snowball at us from the quay. During our navigation he always had the first and the last word on board and - to his credit - he managed to keep his whole crew of characters under control without neglecting the needs of his only reader and passenger.

We followed a circular route with a stopover between Fifth Business and The Manticore to welcome on board a new first narrator looking for psychoanalysis. Then, thanks to the flying open sleigh we brought along on the Beagle, we left the poor fellow on the Swiss Alps between Jung and the Jungfrau.
Just in time to begin the exploration of the third stage of our trip leading us to the illusive borders of the World of Wonders together with a film troupe and eventually back to Deptford.

Believe me, folks. You will suffer no seasickness sailing (and flying) with Robertson Davies.
This guy never loses the control of his helm and - as a plus - is not afraid of pointing straight into the whirlwinds of history, politics, religion and love.That and the difficult art and consequences of dodging a snowball thrown by a brat. The magical realism and real magic you will bring back home after embarking on a journey on The Deptford Trilogy with Captain Davies are equally haunting.


This frame comes from Citizen Kane, by Orson Welles, but I can see both Fifth Business and World of Wonders here.

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