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
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
But I did find some of the themes very interesting...about the medieval society/culture within universities, the way we can find meaning in the dung and cast off garbage of pe...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
Highly recommended, a terrific read. Brilliant plotting, according to the blurbs, but actually there's not all that much narrative. It's mainly talk, talk, talk. And very entertaining talk at that. The book sometimes feels like a lighter, comic version of Mann's Magic Mountain. Scholars discussing life and death and everything in between, from sex to human excrement (in fact with particular attention being paid to exactly those two subjects). It's all about duality and alchemy, how we're creatur...more
This book is told by 2 points of view and there is some adjustment initially in figuring out who was talking. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered at the end and you feel as if you've been shot out the back of...more
Reading it now, I appreciate the story and am considerably less concerned that I don't know much about Rabelais or Paracelsus.
I like Maria now. I didn't so much the first time I read it. I also have a greater appreciation of her mother, the not-so-crazy Gypsy lady.
There is one part that is very graphic and pretty gross, almost as if the character Parlabane is h...more
A few good passages and interesting references, but overall it needed to be edited down to a third its size. Mi...more
This is a pretty good novel, the characters were memorable and while I didn't understand all of the plot, it got off as a novel on Parlabane alone. If I was someone who read much of, or to that extent even cared about the literature of my supposed homeland, I wou...more
But whatever. The mythological/supernatural/religious moments were interesting. I liked the idea of a pure evi...more
Enjoyable, I thought - particularly the depravity of Parlabane and the mind games he plays; Theotosky's earnestness; Darcourt's single-mindedness; Hollier's humanity; theologies I've distanced myself from in recent years. Will be looking to read the rest of the Cornish Trilogy - What's Bred in the Bone and The Lyre of Orpheus in the future.
Definitely worth reading, which leads me to say that the 5 star rating leaves something to be desired. It would have been 8.5 on a 10 point scale.
Scoundrels, medieval scholars, gypsies, and tawdry sex - what more could a reader ask for in a treatsie on the quest for living the honorable life. I love Robertson Davies for the deft manner in which he's able to tackle such big questions in life like the pursuit of living an intellectual life and the ever-maddening struggle between fate and free-wil...more
Maria is a grad student w...more
I first came across Davies a couple of years ago when a former English colleague of mine recommended him to me due to my interest in the visual arts and literature. At this point, I've re-read...more