ONE HALF OF ROBERTSON DAVIES by Robertson Davies

ONE HALF OF ROBERTSON DAVIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

After-dinner speeches, commencement-day speeches, some humor, and a few lectures by the Canadian novelist-playwright-scholar. "When you read this book, will you please try to hear it," pleads Davies, but even allowing for the looser nature of public speaking, most of this is rather a blandly rambling and chatty affair: warnings against sloth, a gentle attack on modern architecture ("how many modern houses have a study?"), fables about academia, musings on Canadian identity. Davies is heartily, broadly erudite but ripsnortingly old-fashioned, and his satires on the Age of Aquarius ("originated in the mind of a very young person who had been partaking unwisely of a feast of whipped cream complicated by several sharp snorts of cocaine") are both dated and strained. He's on firmer ground and in richer territory when discussing literature, and his four straightforward lectures on evil--in melodramas, ghost stories, and novels--offer intriguing praise for some "minor" writers, as well as familiar but neatly-phrased Dickensiana (Thackeray "handles Evil with tongs. Dickens didn't: he lived it"). But platitudes--perhaps resonant when spoken--romp through even these pages, along with a jargoned Jungian predilection ("Jung and the Theatre" is the nadir) that clashes oddly with Davies' general air of uncomplicated bonhomie. A bedside book, perhaps, but only for those fully prepared to doze off and dream not at all.
Pub Date: April 1st, 1978
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1978




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