Saturday, August 29, 2015

Robertson Davies: erudite and entertaining

Robertson Davies

I encountered the work of Robertson Davies by chance. Long before ipads or e-readers were around to divert, I had a long, slow, train journey from London to Dundee in prospect and gambled on a thousand-pager (a one-volume trilogy) by a Canadian writer I knew little about. 

His book made the journey pass so pleasantly that I went on to read his two other mammoth trilogies and was charmed and entertained by them all (Deptford, Cornish and Salterton are his big three trios). Davies was a writer Anthony Burgess hailed as "ingenuous, erudite and entertaining, with all the qualities of a latter-day Trollope". 

Davies was born in born Thamesville, Ontario, more than a hundred years ago – August, 28, 1913 – and although his books are still in print, and he was honoured in his centenary year by being put on a Canadian stamp, I wonder about the extent to which he has faded from view. The Salterton Trilogy, for example, was at number 344,186 in the Amazon bestsellers chart in August 2015. 

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