Robertson Davies

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Davies, Robertson

(William Robertson Davies) (dā`vĭs), 1913–95, Canadian writer and editor. After receiving a B.Litt. from Oxford (1938), he joined the Old Vic Theatre Company before returning to Canada (1940) as an editor. In 1963 he became the first master of Massey College, a graduate college of the Univ. of Toronto; he retired in 1981. During his long literary career he produced more than 30 works of fiction as well as plays, essays, and criticism. Among the most important themes explored in his densely plotted novels are the moral dimensions of life, the isolation of the human spirit, and humanity's growth from innocence to experience.

Davies's three novel trilogies deal with life in fictional Ontario villages. The Salterton Trilogy—Tempest-Tost (1951), Leaven of Malice (1954), and A Mixture of Frailties (1958)—is a satiric romance that explores Canadian life and culture. The Deptford Trilogy—Fifth Business (1970), The Manticore (1972), and World of Wonders (1975)—is a richly plotted study of three individuals' journeys to self-discovery that mingles humor, mystery, magic, grotesqueries, and the Jungian theory of archetypes. Later novels include his third trilogy, the Cornish—The Rebel Angels (1981), Bred in the Bone (1985), and The Lyre of Orpheus (1989), as well as The Cunning Man (1995).


See For Your Eye Alone: Letters, 1976–1996 (2001), ed. by J. S. Grant; biography by J. S. Grant (1978, 1994); studies by E. Buitenhuis (1972), P. A. Morley (1977), J. Mills (1984), S. Stone-Blackburn (1985), and M. Peterman (1986).

References in periodicals archive ?
At the back of the daylight saving scheme I detect the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves." - Robertson Davies
Event 1: Kingston WritersFest, Robertson Davies Dinner 10th Anniversary Gala Dinner
There is a passage in Robertson Davies' novel Fifth Business that may have been inspired by Bird's memoir: "Commanders and historians are the people to discuss wars; I was in the infantry, and most of the time I did not know where I was or what I was doing, except that I was obeying orders and trying not to be killed in any of the variety of horrible ways open to me." (1) This fictional passage aptly suggests the difference between memoir and history.
There is also a gem of a chapter entitled "The Canadian Collar," in which Sorensen examines portrayals of clergy life in Margaret Laurence, Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, Warren Cariou and others--a study that fills a gap in Canadian literary analysis.
Sugars contends with contradictory assertions by Canada's two best-known writers, Robertson Davies and Margaret Atwood, that Canada has no ghosts and that the ghost is emblematic of the Canadian condition, introduction the recurring motif of what she terms Canadian writers' "fort-da relation with the Gothic" (73).
Based on the eponymous 2006 play by Peter Handke and adapted by the new Musiktheater's Intendant, Rainer Mennicken, the text poses the existential question, "Where are we?" (just as novelist Robertson Davies once posed Canada's similarly existential question, "Where is here?").
Some of our best novelists were--and are--also some of our best critics, such as Virginia Woolf, John Updike, Iris Murdoch, Robertson Davies, John Banville, Cynthia Ozick, Thomas Mallon, Joyce Carol Oates, and Zadie Smith.
Canadian literature - Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, Robertson Davies (his Dad was from Welshpool).
Sebald's The Emigrants (, Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy (, and Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo (
Over the next five decades the branch published some of the major Canadian writers of the past century: Morley Callaghan, Donald Creighton, Robertson Davies, Mavis Gallant, Grey Owl, Stephen Leacock, Hugh MacLennan, E.