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 and Walking Spirits and The Cunning Man.His career was marked by many honors: 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.
Davies weaves together the destinies of this remarkable cast of characters, creating a wise and witty portrait of love, murder, and scholarship at a modern university in this first book of The Cornish Trilogy.A goodhearted priest and scholar, a professor with a passion for the darker side of medieval psychology, a defrocked monk, and a rich young businessman who inherits some troublesome paintings are all helplessly beguiled by the same coed.The story is set in motion by the death of eccentric art patron and collector Francis Cornish. Hollier, McVarish, and Darcourt are the executors of Cornish’s complicated will, which includes material that Hollier wants for his studies. The deceased’s nephew Arthur Cornish stands to inherit the fortune.
Returning to the town he first visited in Tempest-Tost, Davies continues to explore the lives of its inhabitants in the second book of The Salterton Trilogy. The following announcement appeared in the Salterton Evening Bellman: "Professor and Mrs. Walter Vambrace are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter, Pearl Veronica, to Solomon Bridgetower Esq, son of…" Although the malice that prompted this false engagement notice was aimed at three people only—Solly Bridgetower, Pearl Vambrace, and Gloster Ridley, the anxiety-ridden local newspaper editor—before the leaven of malice had ceased to work it had changed permanently, for good or ill, the lives of many citizens of Salterton.
For devotees of Davies and all lovers of literature and language, here is the "urbanity, wit, and high seriousness mixed by a master chef" (Cleveland Plain Dealer), vintage delights from an exquisite literary menu.Robertson Davies’s rich and varied collection of writings on the world of books and the miracle of language captures his inimitable voice and sustains his presence among us. Coming almost entirely from Davies’s own files of unpublished material, these twenty-four essays and lectures range over themes from "The Novelist and Magic" to "Literature and Technology," from "Painting, Fiction, and Faking," to "Can a Doctor Be a Humanist?" and "Creativity in Old Age." Davies himself says merely: "Lucky writers…like wine, die rich in fruitiness and delicious aftertaste, so that their works survive them."
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