The Cunning Man: A Novel

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Viking, 1995 - Fiction - 469 pages
9 Reviews
""Should I have taken the false teeth?"" "This is what Dr. Jonathan Hullah, a former police surgeon, thinks after he watches Father Hobbes die in front of the High Altar at Toronto's St. Aidan's on the morning of Good Friday. How did the good father die? We do not learn the answer until the last pages of this "Case Book" of a man's rich and highly observant life. But we learn much more about many things, and especially about Dr. Hullah." "From an early age, Jonathan Hullah developed "a high degree of cunning" in concealing what his true nature might be. And so he kept himself on the outside, watching, noticing, and sniffing, most often in the company of those who bore watching. Among them, flamboyant, mystical curate Charlie Iredale; outrageous banker Darcy Dwyer; cynical, quixotic professor Brocky Gilmartin, whose son Conor, also Hullah's godson, makes a fateful and too brief appearance in Robertson Davies's last novel, Murther & Walking Spirits. Hullah also lives in close proximity to Pansy Freake Todhunter, an etcher in Toronto. Indeed he becomes privy to her intimate letters to British sculptor Barbara Hepworth. It is "Chips," as she is called, who writes Dame Barbara: "The doctor is a bit of a puzzle. Long and cornery and quiet and looks like a horse with a secret sorrow."" "As the Cunning Man takes us through his own long and ardent life of theatre, art, and music, varied adventures in the Canadian Army during World War II, and the secrets of a doctor's consulting room, his preoccupation is not with sorrow but with the comedic canvas of life. Just as Dr. Hullah practices a type of psychosomatic medicine "by which I attempt to bring about changes in the disease syndromes through language," so does Robertson Davies intertwine language and story, as perhaps never before, to offer us profound truths about being human."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dbsovereign - LibraryThing

Davies is a master craftsman who intertwines humor with his superior knowledge of human nature. His characters are complex and drawn with an eye for detail. His plots are full of the scandals from ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - R0BIN - LibraryThing

A disappointment. This book came very highly recommended but the whole time I was reading, I kept thinking "Are we going anywhere with this?" There were several interesting characters but they just ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
5
Section 3
9
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

William Robertson Davies was born in Thamesville, Ontario in 1913. He taught English at the University of Toronto and was an actor, journalist, and newspaper editor before winning acclaim as a novelist with Tempest-Tost, the first of his Salterton trilogy. His most famous trilogy, The Deptford Trilogy--Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders--develops the earlier Salterton novels. The locale is a fictitious Ontario city that prizes its English tradition, including the Anglican Church and the genealogy of the old families. Robertson's novels have been translated into approximately 20 languages. His masterful story-telling encompasses such issues as evil, love, fear, tradition, and magic as he brings his characters to life with wisdom and humor. Robertson Davies died in 1995.

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