The Rebel Angels (The Cornish Trilogy #1)
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Some books are comfort reads. They are old friends whose familiarity provides us with a sense of stability and well-being, and they fit like a glove to the intellectual, emotional, and purely personal elements of our psyche. Sometimes this is because we came to them in formative years when their mode and message could be deeply impressed on us, sometimes it is because they simply express aspects of our nature that we ourselves may not be fully aware of, but to which they harmonize c...more
He writes about things that should be really boring in a way that's somehow really interesting. Like the drama of Renaissance professors and graduate students. Does that get your heart racing? No? Well what if I told you it's all interspersed with Gypsy mysticism and Rabelaisian al...more
How do you solve a problem like Maria?
She is so perfect--a beautiful brainiac. How much I would have given as a student to have her knowledge of languages. However, I remember spending hours trying to conjugate Ancient Greek verbs and remember proper endings of nouns--all these many years later, the only sentence I remember? "The boat is in Byzantium." Not really too useful, for translations or conversations.
Davies does try to give Maria some faults--she has a Gypsy family to contend with and ha...more
Robertson Davies’ The Rebel Angels is an engaging and energetic novel with a vigorous sense of humor. The novel reads quickly and never feels weighed down by ideas or seriousness. This is deceptive.
Davies gives us a novel populated by Medieval and Renaissance scholars. Their intellectual landscape is thus not unnaturally populated by Paracelsus and Rabelais, two constant figures in the dialectic of the novel. Of the two, Rabelais seems the most significant. He is a figure frequently claimed by b...more
A few good passages and interesting references, but overall it needed to be edited down to a third its size. Mi...more
But whatever. The mythological/supernatural/religious moments were interesting. I liked the idea of a pure evi...more
Subtle wits like to refresh themselves with a whiff of mild indecency.
Call mine, then, a subtle wit for I enjoyed this book full of indecencies. I first read The Rebel Angels probably 25 years ago and what impressed me most about it was how Robertson Davies can describe situations totally outside my frame of reference (here, the inner workings of a graduate school and the lofty topics of professorial research) without making me feel ignorant or undereducated -- as Davies' characters speak knowl...more
The Rebel Angels revolves around the execution of a difficult will. In this case, the estate is of one Francis Cornish, a fantastically rich patron and collector of Canadian art and a noted antiquarian bibliophile. A lost Rabelais manuscript is rumoured to be among his possessions, and his executors include th...more
Maria is a grad student w...more
The characters reflect Davies' deep and admirable knowledge of philosophy, literature, history and a number of other subjects, but while I was profoundly enjoying this part, I could not get rid of the feeling that t...more
I probably won't continue with Davies, but I don't feel that my time was wasted, either.
Make this rating a very strong 3/5, nevertheless, about a decade after I read the second part of the Cornish trilogy, finally reading the first part left me disappointed and unsatisfied.
Some of it could have something to do with the wildly differing forms of the novels...the Angels are pretty much diaries of two people spanning one year, while What's Bred In the Bone is a fictional biography. Some of it - and actually a great deal of it in my case is the fact that Maria's voice was just way...more