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The Cunning Man
by Robertson Davies

When Father Hobbes drops dead during a church service, holistic healer Jonathan Hullah suspects that something is amiss. He is prevented from performing a more complete examination by his old schoolmate, the mystical Father Iredale. Some 20 years later, a journalist doing a series on Old World Toronto prompts Hullah to ruminate on the circumstances surrounding the death of the saintly priest. In doing so, Hullah ranges far and wide, recalling his rural upbringing in Sioux Lookout, his life-changing encounter with a native American medicine woman, his schooling at an elite boarding school, his rowdy extracurricular activities with a troupe of actors, and his wartime experiences as a doctor. Popular Canadian author Davies has written a sort of metaphysical mystery story, with a plot just compelling enough to support the weight of his learned musings on any number of topics, including the theater, art, music, God, and medicine. Sharing many of the same characters as his last novel, Murther & Walking Spirits (1991), this one should have strong appeal for Davies' loyal readers.
Joanne Wilkinson --


 
To: ALL Date: 06/02 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 3:37 PM THE CUNNING MAN... greetings...stay tuned... =============== Reply 1 of Note 13 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 06/02 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 5:12 PM ...the high priestess said, cunningly... =============== Reply 2 of Note 13 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 06/02 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 11:46 PM I'm working on THE CUNNING MAN, one of the selections I actually did find in my library. Does anybody remember, or have you heard of, the era when "cunning" was all the rage in children's readers? Mama said she got quite a mistaken impression of the word. Baby Ray's cat was very cunning, as were several other of his/her possessions. This is a nice, prolix book with lots of literate talk. Cathy =============== Reply 3 of Note 13 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 06/03 From: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Time: 11:15 AM Cathy: If I recall correctly, 'cunning' formerly was used to describe children's clothing or activities that today we would more likely term 'cute'. As in, "Peter Rabbit wore a cunning little blue coat with shiny brass buttons." This was in addition to its useage as a synonym for 'clever'. I also recall it frequently being used in conjunction with the word 'low' -- 'low cunning'. I always thought that was slightly redundent, since the word 'cunning' itself always conveyed a sense of somewhat disreputable slyness, to me at least. Americans and the English have always preferred a certain straightforward stupidity over any amount of unseemly cleverness -- smart people, yuck, as they might say down at the mall. And this Davies is quite a good writer, isn't he? I've enjoyed the book, despite the ocassional jarring collisions between American style collquialism and English twittiness in the language. Perhaps what our high quality literature would read like if we'd lost the Revolution. Anyway, I've found that an interesting sidelight to the story itself. Dick in Alaska, on the 5th of the 12 Days of the Inlaws =============== Reply 4 of Note 13 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 06/03 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:23 PM gail, Cathy, and Sir R., I am finishing up THE CUNNING MAN, and I have enjoyed it. Considering that RD was quite an old man when he wrote this book, he was also quite "with it". I am still gathering my thoughts about the book, so I am not quite ready to post all of my thoughts. I would like to recommend the DEPTFORD TRILOGY to one and all. I read it several years ago and loved it. I also have THE SALTERTON TRILOGY and BRED TO THE BONE in my TBR pile. Jane who thanks Teresa Hess for putting this book on the CR list. =============== Reply 5 of Note 13 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 06/03 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 9:51 PM ROBERTSON DAVIES... greetings.. 1913-195...was born in the village of Thamesvile, Ontario..the DEPTFORD of three of this novels..where he lived for five years... his parents were remarkably like those of Brochwel Gilmartin in THE CUNNING MAN....great readers...talkers, and singers, but unhappy in their marriage and eager to win his allegiance. His father's newspaper interests took the family to the town of Renfrew ..the Blairlogie OF what's bred I the bone....AND THEN to Kingston..THE salterton of his first trilogy and of his most recent two novels. he attended UPPer Canada College in Toronoto..the original of Colborne COllege...QUEEN'S University in Kingston and Balliol College, Oxford, where he took his B.Litt. IN 1938...he then joined the OLD VIC COMPANY for two seasons..acting bit parts..teaching theatre history in its school and doing literary work for the director..in 1940 he married BRENDA MATHEWS who had been a stage manager with the OLD VIC and returned to Canada. he was litererary editor of SATURDAY NIGHT magazine IN toronto UNTIL 1942, then editor of the PETERBOROUGH EXAMINER...... until the mid 50's he threw his considerable 'leisure' energies into theatre..writing and directing plays for the little theatre and for several professional companies...in 1963 he left the EXAMINER and became Master of MASSEY College in the University of TORONto..the origina of PLOUGHWRIGHT COLLEGE IN THE REBEL ANGELS.. at the university he taught in the ENGLISH dept. and the drama centre until he retired in 1981. reading the works of jUNG IN THE 50's and 60's changed Davies' outlook and had a strong impact on his writing...where earlier he had turned away from the images and ideas that rose unbidden in his dreams and visions..he now opened himself up to them...and he came to accept and value his intuitions...he came to see the novelist and playwright as givers of shape to the archetypal material rising from the unconscious..as a result he cased to write novels that were essentially comedies of manners with distanced, cool, analytic omniscient narrators....starting with FIFTH BUSINESS..he began to write ficitonal autobiographies or confessions in which the underlying presence of the archetypes is palpable. tbc =============== Reply 6 of Note 13 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 06/03 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 10:17 PM greetings MADEMOISELLE JANE.. years ago when i discovered DAVIES.. i read the deptford trilogy and mistrials of frailities... glad to hear you also enjoyed the trilogy..but i truly can't understand anyone not enjoying them! WORLD OF WONDERS..THEmanicore..okay....help....i know it was the first book..the book i flipped over and the title escapes me!!! gail..hp..a p r in the middle kingdom of life where names certainly do escape me regularly! =============== Reply 7 of Note 13 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 06/03 From: GJFH50B KATHARINE HIGGINS Time: 10:26 PM Gail, It's Fifth Business, the first of the Deptford Trilogy, a series I enjoyed tremendously when I read it many years ago. Anyway, I think this is the title you want. Katy Higgins =============== Reply 8 of Note 13 =================  
To: GJFH50B KATHARINE HIGGINS Date: 06/03 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 11:47 PM I'm not surprised to hear he actually had singers in the family. What he writes of music is quite sound, and, as you know, that's a sure way to hook me into a novel. I'm enjoying the theater business, too. Cathy =============== Reply 9 of Note 13 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 06/04 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 9:49 AM gail & All: I'm only a few chapters into CUNNING MAN, which I blush to admit is my first Davies, but my initial reaction is what a hell of a writer this guy is. How audaciously he invents situations, and takes me willingly all around the bush to get the details, jumping back and forth in space time with impunity though never getting me confused. Reading somebody who's this gifted is a little like riding in a fine car on a good road with the tires perfectly inflated. Just settle back and enjoy it. Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 10 of Note 13 =================  
To: GJFH50B KATHARINE HIGGINS Date: 06/04 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 4:46 PM greetings KATHARINE... btw is your name spelled katharine or katherine...noticed on the address list and now was curious... tons of thanks for FIFTH BUSINESS...would you believe that always was the one book of his i could remember..now its the others... WELCOME TO THE MIDDLE KINGDOM! gail.hp.a p r in the throes of a fascinating book .. =============== Reply 11 of Note 13 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 06/04 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 4:48 PM ROBERTSON DAVIES..greetings.... his many works include not only plays and novels that won him international renown but criticism ..belles letttres..stories and speeches..he was award the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD..for THE MANTICORE... the NATIONAL ARTS CLUB..NEW YORK..MEDAL OF HONOUR FOR LITERATURE....1987.... and was made FELLOW of the ROYAL SOCIETY OF CANADA....1967.. a Companion of the ORDER of CANADA 1972..an honorary member of the AMERICAN ACADEMY and Institute of ARTS and LETTERS..the first Canadian to be so honored...1980..and in 1986..HONORARY FELLOW OF BALLIOL... the honorary degrees he particularly treasured are those from trinity college...dublin .. 1990 and from OXFORD...1991... THE CUNNING MAN.. is davies' 11th novel..in it has has drawn once again on his seemingly inexhaustible hoard of intuition ..formidable memory and astonishing erudition to produce a truly entertaining story... Q, you have talked about the way your novels FIFTH BUSINESS and THE MANTICORE began to take shape with the appearance in your imagination of a vivid image...how did THE CUNNING MAN get its start? well..it didn't get a start in quite such a determined way as that, but it was an idea which had been in my mind for many years ..which was the transformation of the city of TORONTO from being quite literally a colonial capital to being a metropolitan city.....and the changes that had taken place..particularly in the world of art..and what had been gained and also a few tings that had been lost in the process.. Q. you refer to ROBERT BURTON'S anatomy of melancholy again and again in THE CUNNING MAN..why does it appeal to you? sir william osler..a great humanist as well as a terrific doctor said that it was the greatest book of psychiatry that had ever been written by a layman...unbeatable for depth of interest and just sheer wonderous curiosity about mankind...and that's true..... I WAS fascinated with it from my school days and have taken pleasure in it all my life...OLD BURTON'S idea was ne which he doesn't directly attribute to Paracelsus but it was Paracelsus's idea, that it's no use talking bout the live and the lungs and so forth they are your liver and my live and your lungs and my lungs..and they are never exactly the same in any two people..and that you've got to find out your person and find out his feelings and his spirit and Paracelsus would HAVE said...his soul..if you're going to be able to do him any good..APParently....Paracelsus was a v ery remarkable healer but he was, like OSLER ..a charismatic healer... gail.hp.a p r..reporting from san francisco where my tizzie lizzie's are finally flourishing bringing me great joy and beauty... =============== Reply 12 of Note 13 =================  
To: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Date: 06/04 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 11:01 PM chere petite gail, Thanks for your very informative notes about Davies. I just finished THE CUNNING MAN. I loved his main character Dr. Jon Hullah, because he seemed so human. He was brilliant and an excellent doctor, but he had his flaws. He was not totally satisfied with his life: he mentions that he wishes he had treated kings and other heads of state instead of ordinary people. He also foolishly falls in love with Esme at the end, even though he knows that he is much too old for her. He talks about his lack of feeling when his godson (or son??) dies. His best quality is that he is very honest about himself as well as others. According to my copy of this novel, RD was 81 when he published the book. His powers of writing and observation of the world certainly did not diminish in his later years. Jane who loves the photo of the laughing RD on the back of the book. =============== Reply 13 of Note 13 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 06/05 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 0:10 AM Actually, Paracelus etal were right in saying each person's organs were a little bit different. Several years ago I read WHERE DEATH DELIGHTS, a biography of the legendary forensic specialist Dr. Milton Halperin. Dr. Halperin insisted that of all the corpses he had autopsied no two were exactly alike. The kidneys would be hung differently, for example. He really talked with a great deal of awe about the human body and all its variants. Cathy =============== Reply 14 of Note 13 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 06/05 From: SHMF23A THOM HANSER Time: 3:13 AM Was it that long ago that we discussed FIFTH BUSINESS? I think that was one of the recommendations of Michael Mele. If possible, someone remind me how time flies. I read somewhere that the likeness of Roberson Davies has replaces Einstein as the fav poster in college dorms (fav after Cindy Crawford of course). Thom =============== Reply 15 of Note 13 =================  
To: SHMF23A THOM HANSER Date: 06/05 From: NDKB53A THERESA SIMPSON Time: 3:20 AM The truth is, Davies is Einstein, but with a beard. =============== Reply 25 of Note 13 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 06/07 From: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Time: 10:56 PM I'm about one third of the way through THE CUNNING MAN, and just wanted to drop in and say how much I'm enjoying it! For some reason, I wasn't expecting to like this one, yet it has been interrupting my life for the last few days (and I have things to do!). Dale's automotive analogy is apt -- Davison could drive me anywhere. I keep making mental comparisions between THE CUNNING MAN and A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY. Hullah reminds me of Irving's protagonist (whose last name escapes me, but his first name was also John) -- a relatively stable man surrounded by remarkable eccentrics. Has anyone else noticed it, or do I need to get out more? Peggy =============== Reply 26 of Note 13 =================  
To: UPDQ58A PEGGY RAMSEY Date: 06/08 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 1:30 PM Peggy: Now that you mention it, I feel a definite kinship between Davies' writing and that of John Irving, though it's hard to pin down exactly why. As you say, the great collection of eccentrics is part of it. But I also think both writers are trying to duplicate the weirdness and synchronicity of real life. Weird events happen that seem to be unconnected to anything, but just as you've pushed one of those loose threads to the back of your mind, something happens that makes it suddenly very significant. Does that make sense? Dale in Ala., mixing metaphors without near the elan of Davies =============== Reply 27 of Note 13 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 06/08 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 11:46 PM Yes, it does, Dale, and in this particular book it seems to have the trappings of a great murder tale. Other times it's just one of those "so THAT'S why"s of life, a nice flash of illumination. Reading THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET years ago (too long ago to take an intelligent part in the recent discussions), I began to wonder if anybody ever noticed or understood more than a fragment of what was going on around him/her. Cathy =============== Reply 28 of Note 13 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 06/09 From: KGXC73A GAIL SINGER GROSS Time: 5:01 PM greetings CBJ.. OUTSTANDING! gail.hp..a p r =============== Reply 29 of Note 13 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 06/10 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 10:56 AM All, I finished THE CUNNING MAN last night. Be advised that I'm going to talk about the ending of the book as well as the beginning, in other words: spoiler alert. This was the first Davies I have ever read, but it won't be the last. Some of you have compared him to Irving. He is much different, to my mind, but with similar themes. Irving is more caustic, presents more outrageous situations, or at least frames them differently. Davies (at least in this one book) seems gentler, more polite. TCM did indeed seem like a nice automobile journey through the landscape of a life. Plot was secondary. Even character seemed secondary to the world of ideas. Culture, music, beauty, art, conversation, philosophy. These are the main characters of THE CUNNING MAN. I know very little about deconstructionism, but didn't you get a kick out of his description? I think the narrator's idea for ANATOMY OF FICTION is splendid. I wonder how much Davies is like the doctor? How much of the doctor's personality is Davies? He seemed so very comfortable in the role of the doctor, for that is what it seems like to me when an author chooses to tell a story in the first person. Someone mentioned that they didnt particularly like the part of the story when the doctor fell in love with Esme? It didn t seem odd to me at all, in fact, it humanized him. He was so insightful in his role as diagnostician, but that very role kept him at a distance from his patients. He never became involved on a personal level, but was always above that level. Falling in love, literally, allowed him to descend to a more interactive level. But it wasn't to be. He fell, but then he got up very quickly. What do you all think of the scene in the club dining room after the funeral? I thought it was too too polite. Here these people had just lost a son, and they chose that time to tell about an ongoing affair. I suppose that one wound ripping open would lead to the discussion of other wounds, but it seemed too civilized. I know how I would feel if a child of mine had been killed. I would be crazy. These people just did not seem crazy enough. Am I being too critical? Is this demonstration of the stiff-upper-lip syndrome? Sherry in Milwaukee where its finally spring, and now on to summer =============== Reply 33 of Note 13 =================  
To: ZRPD32A RICHARD HAGGART Date: 06/10 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 11:19 PM I, too, much enjoyed the artistic and philosophical discussions that were so much a part of TCM. The book will stay with me a long time, though I'm not sure I'm yet ready for more Davies. Actually, aside from Chips's letters, you see the doctor only as he wants you to see him. I had the wee suspicion that all that detachment was really a bit of intellectual cover up for something he didn't want known or didn't want even to look into himself. For instance, his casual dismissal of the bit of communion wafer his nurse preserved for him - there I smelled a great, big rat. He knew what had happened from the very beginning, though probably not the actual agent. Would it have made things better if he'd spoken out? I honestly don't know, though it could have spared them the manifestations of that irritating Prudence Vizard and would not have been a more wretched end for Charlie than he actually met. Maybe he could also have preserved the wonderful musical service at St. Aidan's a bit longer - that would be the part that stuck in my mind, naturally. Also, I got the definite impression Esme knew who had killed her husband and why he was in her workroom. All that business about wondering if his spirit were hovering over the guilty party, perhaps hoping so. It certainly wasn't the industrialist she married. I wish he'd filled in a little more about the sobbing employee with the cane. Yes, that was a rather bloodless wake and discussion, though you could charitably put it down to shock. All the characters seemed to have a marked distaste for chewing up the scenery with their emotions. Lots of marvelous tidbits in this one. Cathy =============== Reply 34 of Note 13 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 06/11 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 8:26 AM Hi, Cathy: "Marvelous tidbits" indeed in THE CUNNING MAN, which I'm still working my way through. I had the same impression of the doctor from the beginning as you did, that he was making this tell-all pretense but at the same time very selectively choosing what to tell. Which is what we all do in daily life, of course. But I think Davies has an unusually keen sense of just how selective, and subjective, any one version of reality is. Dale in Ala. =============== Reply 35 of Note 13 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 06/11 From: WSRF10B SHERRY KELLER Time: 8:36 AM Cathy, He did leave several details hanging, didn't he? I suspected Charlie done'im in too, but TCM seemed like a different sort of book, not a murder mystery, so I didn't give too much thought to my initial suspicion. I thoroughly enjoyed the medical talk, too, and the psychological stuff. The dreams Charlie had sure did explain a lot about his life. I can imagine powerful imagery like that within a dream, within a lifetime of dreams, can influence a person. I had exactly the same reaction you did about the weeping man at the funeral. And they glossed over him so fast when they were trading secrets, that I'm still confused about him. Was he Gil's lover? Esme's lover? The bill collector? So many visceral happenings, but they were described so politely, that I did intellectual doubletakes. What do you think the Cunning Man was hiding from himself? Sherry =============== Reply 36 of Note 13 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 06/11 From: KEXT98A TONYA PRESLEY Time: 10:56 AM Cathy, You voiced a lot of my thoughts. Kind of neat, since I thought of you a lot while reading TCM, what with the attention to the choir and all. The church seemed a very real place to me, though I've never been to any church like it. Strange, but (although I suspected Charlie) I resigned myself to the idea that he wasn't going to solve the priest's murder outright early on; but I was sure the son's murder (being a sub-topic) would be solved. And I suspected Esme had played a role in his murder, too. TCM is 6 or 7 books ago, now, and details are fading, but I thought while reading it that I had enjoyed WHAT'S BRED IN THE BONE more. (Of course, that book is 60 or 70 books ago.) It never felt to me like we were getting to the real man, as in the wafer incident. I wanted Chip to reveal something juicy, I guess. Robertson Davies never reminded me of John Irving, but this book reminded me a lot of a book I read 7 or 8 years ago, a murder mystery called A COAT OF VARNISH. Can't remember the author, now I'll have to look it up. It was a good read. Tonya =============== Reply 37 of Note 13 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 06/11 From: KDEX08B RUTH BAVETTA Time: 6:51 PM Cathy, I like your analysis of Dr Hullah. As much as I wanted to like him, he wasn't a man I warmed up to. Despite his admitted "failings", I felt oppressed by an enormous ego. Ruth, back from northern California and puzzled as to why her burglar alarm only false-alarms when she more than 200 miles away =============== Reply 38 of Note 13 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 06/11 From: GJFH50B KATHARINE HIGGINS Time: 10:25 PM Cathy, For marvelous conversational tidbits, try THE REBEL ANGELS, my favorite of Davies books. It is a very funny send up of academic pretensions and university politics. He also brings in esoteric gypsy lore and the usual Freudian Jungian psychological spice all of which make for a very entertaining read. The Deptford Trilogy is also well worth your time. The Rebel Angels is the first book of another trilogy, including What's Bred in the Bone and another title which I can't remember right now. I did not think The Cunning Man was up to these others. Katy Higgins =============== Reply 39 of Note 13 =================  
To: GJFH50B KATHARINE HIGGINS Date: 06/12 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:22 PM Hi everyone, When I read Charlie's confession, I decided that he was schizophrenic because he heard voices. What do all of you think? Jane who has just returned from five days in Indiana - humid, mosquitoes, etc. =============== Reply 40 of Note 13 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 06/12 From: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Time: 11:53 PM It would have had to be a comparatively mild case. If he were really schizy, he'd never have stood up so well so long being a priest. He'd have broken under the stress of taking care of Father Hobbes and God's Poor. There was definitely a mental problem, though. As for what the Cunning Man was hiding, maybe it was that he really DID feel and had been vastly hurt by various of the events he recorded. Somebody said he was too detached; I noted he seem to have come from a rather detached family that held each other (and all emotion) at arms' length. About the Governor General's question - I was interested in the naughty little poem by the Earl of Rochester. From the language, this had to have been John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (1647 - 1680). Obviously, this Restoration rake didn't live long enough to learn about the problem first hand! According to my Columbia Encyclopedia, he had a religious conversion before he died and exhibited a religious strain even in his rakehelly years, when his kindly patron Charles II often shoved him into the Tower as a kind of drunk tank. Another note - the song "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" mentioned almost in passing - the words to this at least are a Nashville concoction. The writer was one Beth Whitson, who had an unhappy love affair. She and her also writing sister, Alice Whitson Norton, had an office in the same building as my great-aunt Willie's stenography shop. Aunt Willie said she knew they were "either writers or bad women because they dyed their hair". Cathy =============== Reply 41 of Note 13 =================  
To: YHJK89A CATHERINE HILL Date: 06/14 From: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Time: 4:31 PM Hi, I read this book about a year ago and then gave it to my son. I just asked him about it and he loved it as much as I did when I read it. I have been an admirer of RD ever since I read his first book and he was almost unknown in the US. A Canadian friend told me about him and was most impressed by his first book, can't think of the name now. As I think about it now in retrospect The Cunning Man is one of his best books. I read the one mentioned on the board which shows RD's influence of Jungian Psychology and thought that this was a comparatively weak work and there was one about Movies and Death which did not measure up. The trilogies were mostly great. At his age he is a most remarkable writer. One of the best contemporary ones! Ernie who wants to re-read this book. =============== Reply 42 of Note 13 =================  
To: DHGK37A ERNEST BELDEN Date: 06/15 From: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Time: 8:41 PM THE CUNNING MAN: Ernest and all, I finally finished CM today, and enjoyed it. Not as much as I enjoyed the Deptford Trilogy, or REBEL ANGELS, but still it was very good. I found Dr. Hullah something of a puzzle, as did several of you. He certainly gave a carefully edited version of his life. I greatly enjoyed the letters from Chips, and wish that somehow the caricatures could have been done up by somebody. They would have added to the flavor of the correspondence. The picture Davies gives of an Anglican High Church and all it entails caused me to laugh out loud at many of the characters. I was raised an Episcopalian, the U.S. version of Anglicanism, although mostly in a decidedly mid-low church, but I have seen a bit of the 'bells and smells' enthusiasts over the years. The internal politics of the church rang very true. As is usually the case with Davies' books, the ideas and synopses of various theories sometimes slowed things down, although usually they were interesting. Towards the end of the book, in discussing Charlie's 'voices' and the suggestion of schizophrenia, Davies (via Hullah) mentions is passing a theory of consciousness involving voices from one side of the brain dictating behaviour. I believe this refers to a book published some years ago by Julian Jaynes, titled THE ORIGIN OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE BREAKDOWN OF THE BICAMERAL MIND. Snappy title, eh? The basic idea is that up until quite recently in human history, people functioned as a sort of hive population, without individual consciousness. One side of the brain 'spoke' to the other side, giving instructions about daily life and decisions. I thought the idea pretty far out, but I did finish the book. One of the interesting interpretations of Jaynes' concerned the ILIAD and the ODYSSEY. He maintained that the ILIAD was written in the pre-conscious mode, and the ODYSSEY in the conscious mode. I did not find his arguments persuasive. In THE CUNNING MAN, I had much the same difficulty with the bits about magic, intuition and all that. I have not read Jung, so I speak from some ignorance. Anybody have ideas on the value of these ideas in this book? Or generally? Musing fitfully on the mountain, Felix Miller =============== Reply 43 of Note 13 =================  
To: VMMN97A FELIX MILLER Date: 06/16 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:27 PM Felix, I very much enjoyed your note. I bought into all the parts about magic, intuition, and schizophrenia because these traits all appear in my family. I guess we all have these skeletons in the closet somewhere. I also remember the church politics when I was growing up. I always felt sorry for the various preachers we had who braved the Presbyterian congregation in my hometown church. Jane who would rather have a huge class of teenagers than those folks as an audience. =============== Reply 44 of Note 13 =================  
To: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Date: 06/17 From: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Time: 0:08 AM Jane: I also fully bought into the schizophrenia, magic, intuition, and church politics of Davies's novel. I mean (except for denominational issues), it's my childhood in a nutshell, and some day I hope to be wise enough to write a knowledgeable essay on the numberless parallels between Southern (American) and Latin American fiction, particularly the latter's so-called magic realism. I hope. I think. Oh, just forget I brought it up. Dale, feeling reverentially guilty in Ala. =============== Reply 45 of Note 13 =================  
To: MXDD10A DALE SHORT Date: 06/17 From: FAVB99B JANE NIEMEIER Time: 9:10 PM Dale, Go for it! Anything you write is worthwhile. Jane who finally mopped the kitchen floor today.

 

 

Robertson Davies

 
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