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The Manticore (The Deptford Trilogy #2)

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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  3,420 ratings  ·  157 reviews
Hailed by the Washington Post Book World as "a modern classic," Robertson Davies’s acclaimed Deptford Trilogy is a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived series of novels, around which a mysterious death is woven. The Manticore—the second book in the series after Fifth Business—follows David Staunton, a man pleased with his success but haunted by his relationship wit ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published 1972)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Terry
I wavered between demoting this to a 3 star (really 3.5) and keeping it at a 4, but I think it deserves a 4 even if it isn’t near my favourite of Davies’ work and is, I think, the weakest of the Deptford trilogy. We were first given an account of the small town of Deptford, and the players who would be the major cast of characters in the series, in Fifth Business under the guiding hand of Dunstan Ramsay. Now we see things from a different angle: David Staunton, the hard drinking criminal lawyer ...more
Ben Babcock
The Manticore begins by betraying us. Dunstan Ramsay, that incorrigible saint-chasing old man who provided the heart and soul and voice of Fifth Business, is no longer our narrator. Instead, this is the story of David Staunton, the son of Dunstan's lifelong frenemy, Boy Staunton. At the end of Fifth Business, Boy dies, and now David has gone to Zurich seeking the wisdom of a Jungian analyst to make sense of his behaviour since his father's death. Partly an exploration of the psychology of Jung a ...more
Dijon Chiasson
Me: You simply HAVE to read "The Manticore", by Robertson Davies.

Customer: What's it about?

Me: Well it's about this insufferable middle-aged lawyer who drinks to forget his fabulously wealthy upbringing. He is so unhappy he decides to undergo Jungian analysis in Switzerland for a year or so. The story is told via entries from his therapeutic journal.

Customer: I'll take eight!

I have decided that describing the premise of a Robertson Davies novel is pointless. That is unless, you want to deter som
...more
Wanda
I love the way that Robertson Davies chooses narrators--after Fifth Business, I would probably have continued using Dunstan Ramsey as a narrator (and indeed Davies returns to him in the third novel, World of Wonders). But my inclination would not have been nearly as interesting. Instead, by choosing Boy Staunton's son, David, as the focus, it gives this second novel a different tone.

This is probably as close as I will ever get to Jungian analysis--and I enjoyed a peek into the process. Davies i
...more
Kim Fay
In this follow-up to "Fifth Business," the main character, David Staunton, tells his therapist: "Ramsay always insisted that there was nothing that could not be expressed in the Plain Style if you knew what you were talking about." This is an apt description for Davies' style - his eloquence is in his simplicity. Picking up where "Fifth Business" left off, "The Manticore" switches protagonists, moving from Dunstan Ramsay to Staunton, the son of Ramsay's childhood friend/enemy. Staunton's father ...more
Alan Chen
Second part of this trilogy moves away from the perspective of Dunstan and is focused on Boy's son David. The book starts where the Fifth Element ends with the death of Boy. Shortly after his funeral Boy has a psychological crisis and flees to the Swiss Alps for psychoanalysis under a disciple of Jung. He relates his life story: how ends up being 40 and unmarried with an alcoholic problem. He talks about the events covered in the first book but we get a different perspective. We learn more about ...more
Victor Сонькин)
The second book of the Deptford trilogy deals with David Staunton, the son of the formidable Boy Staunton, the (initially sugar) tycoon already familiar from "Fifth Business." While a little inferior to FB, it is nevertheless a wonderful narrative. My main complaint is its rather inconclusive ending (though the scene in the bear cave provides a very substantial crescendo finale of sorts).

This is, in part, a book about Jungian analysis —but it is much more than that. The whole story of David's li
...more
Anna
This is the second book in Davies' Deptford Trilogy, following Fifth Business. Here we have David Staunton as the main character, and he provides a viewpoint much more cynical and sarcastic than did Dunstan Ramsay. It is illuminating to have David's perspective on some of the events that happened in or were hinted at during Fifth Business, but the feeling in this book is much more clinical and less romantic than in its predecessor. As a narrator, Ramsay had a way of coloring things with wonder - ...more
Lara
Ah, Jungian psychology! I finished Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf just before I read The Manticore and felt like Hesse was just beating me over the head with his Jungian psychology throughout the entire story. I was not a fan. And so when I realized that this book is also totally steeped in it, I got a little nervous. But I needn't have. Somehow, even though the entire first two-thirds of this book consists of a guy talking to his analyst, it still never felt anywhere near as heavy-handed as Steppe ...more
Priscilla
Can't say that I fully understood this book because I didn't. It was interesting to see David's perspective on His father and the way he influenced his life as well as the other characters previously introduced in the first novel. I very much enjoyed the last 40 pages or so and I thought the ending was truly beautifully written. Although this book lacked the exciting quality of adventure that was fully present in the first book, this book was nonetheless beautifully written and some of the image ...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
Oct 21, 2007 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: if you like character studies
Don't read this book on its own. It is the middle book of the Deptford Trilogy, a masterpiece of quirky details and great flawed characters. Like Cormier, but without the cynicism. So, start with Fifth Business before you pick this book up.
David Staunton, poor little rich boy, the thrower of that fateful snowball, a boy impressed by his rich father for the wrong reasons. He is in Switzerland for Jungian therapy, and we get his perspective on those childhood events that lead to a mysterious death
...more
Catherine
This book was mentioned as a good way to understand the undergoing of Jungian analysis. I had not heard of the Canadian writer, Robertson Davies, nor the Deptford Trilogy, of which this is a part. According to the Introduction, Davies has the process of Jungian analysis down pretty well, though he never underwent analysis himself. However, he was very well read in terms of Carl Jung.

I honestly did not find much of this book to be intensely interesting or compelling until the last part where the
...more
Joel Fishbane
It's probably blasphemy to be Canadian and attack anything written by Robertson Davies, but I'm going to do it anyway. (I've done it before; back in university, I argued that Tempest-Tost was a great failure of literature). The Manitcore is not a lousy book but it is massively underwhelming, especially given that it won the Governor's General Award back in 1972. Rumor has it this was an apologetic award, as in the Governor General was apologizing for not giving Davies the award for the far super ...more
Terri Kempton
Part two of a trilogy, this book wouldn't make much sense on its own. But it was a fascinating story because a majority of it is the detailed Jungian analysis of one character. We follow this man through a year of therapy as he uncovers his motivations, internal archetypes, and reassesses his childhood and family relations. Although nominal on plot development, I found it to be a strangely satisfying journey and a nice compliment/contrast to the first book of the series.
Ammar
A manticore is a monster, face of a man, head of a lion and a scorpian tail. In the second part of the Deptford trilogy focuses on David Staunton the son of Boy Staunton the Canadian millionaire. David is in Zurich to consult a Jungian analyst about life, death, power, symbols. A tale that is written by a stylist that goes into the murky area of the soul: us, our purpose, the myths we carry, the burden of our ancestors and past.

Truly a masterpiece.
Ariel White
its not really about a manticore... more on murder and psychology so far...

"Never buy anything unless you really need it; things you want are usually junk."

"Be sure you choose what you believe and know why you believe it , because if you don't choose your beliefs, you may be certain that some belief, and probably not a very credible one, will choose you."
Rob Adey
I didn't love this as much as I did the first part of the trilogy. The focus was on a less interesting and less convincing character. But it was still pretty engrossing, and I'm looking forward to the final book...

***SPOILER***
The manticore turns out to be a Jungian metaphor. We don't even find out how many hit dice it has.
p-ok-ahontas
"А теперь я хочу, чтобы ты кое-что запомнил, потому что, думаю, встретимся мы теперь не скоро. Вот что я хочу сказать. Каким бы модным ни было сегодня разочарование в мироустройстве и людях, каким бы сильным ни стало это разочарование в будущем, далеко не все и даже не большинство думают и живут, согласуясь с модой. Изгнать из этого мира добродетель и честь невозможно, что бы ни говорили записные моралисты и паникеры газетчики. Самопожертвование не исчезнет из-за того, что психиатры находят в не ...more
Kathy Mcconkey
Found this book fascinating even though I am not a psychologist. It was really one long psychoanalysis session. Learned alot about Jungian archetypes.
Julia
This story continues Davies' Deptford trilogy, mostly moving to a younger generation and exploring the relationships and events of Fifth Business through the perspective of Boy Staunton's quasi-alcoholic lawyer son. These books are pretty amazing -- beautifully written, mythic, fantastical, human. Apparently Davies was deeply invested in Jungian psychology and it shows here, but not in an annoying way. I think I said this about the first book as well, but really rewarding.
Alberto
No soy gran conocedor de la obra de Jung. A pesar de ello considero el psicoanálisis (tanto freudiano como jungiano) una forma de charlatanería científicamente superada.
En esta obra, en mi opinión, el psicoanálisis de David Staunton (hijo del Boy Staunton de 'El quinto en discordia') no es un mero recurso narrativo para hilvanar sus recuerdos: el autor cree en sus postulados y va reajustando la vida del protagonista en función de estos. Aunque el estilo literario de la novela me parece bueno, e
...more
James
I feel bad giving this book only three stars. Not only because it's the sequel to Fifth Business, one of my favourite books, but also because it was actually very well written. The prose is nice and the allusions that Davies fills the book with makes it feel sophisticated without making it confusing.
I think that the only reason I didn't like The Manticore was because it didn't have the vibe to it that Fifth Business had. FB was a quirky book that was interesting and fun and had a narrator that
...more
Robb
Another great book by Davies. He certainly has a gift for putting you right into the life of the main character and relating with a good piece of what they are going through. Although I found myself more immersed with Fifth Business, I still lost myself in the life of David Staunton. It was very interesting to see another view point on the same characters from Fifth Business. I viewed these characters a certain way given the perceptions of Dunstan Ramsay, but now I had to look at them all over a ...more
Sheldon L
I enjoyed The Manticore immensely!

The second book of the Deptford Trilogy continues the openendedness of the first book, Fifth Business, as Boy Staunton's son David tries to unearth the real reason why his father committed suicide with a green stone in his mouth.
David was troubled as a youth due to his father's insistence/pedagogy of masculinity and his failure thereof due to the imposing and insurmountable shadow of his father's business success.

In The Manticore the person who yelled out, "Who
...more
Artistlace
The Manticore is the second book of the Deptford Trilogy and it’s my favorite so far! The majority of the book takes place in the office of a psychoanalyst, helping the main character, David, to adapt to life after his father’s death.



The analogies used by the doctor throughout treatment, intended to “avoid jargon” are the most interesting aspects of David’s treatment. I really enjoyed the dream analysis and David’s emotional recovery throughout the story.



While The Manticore picks up where Fifth
...more
Erik Graff
May 21, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Davies fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
I picked this up at the Grinnell College bookstore in hardcover probably because I had read about it in the Jungian press. The College participated in a federally funded program which allowed students to order copies of articles from pretty much any publication held by any other library in the USA. I made full use of this, basically living in my library carrel, picking up the stacks of literature which would arrive for me daily, all of them about Jung and Analytical Psychology, most of them from ...more
Mary Jean Phillips
Continuing the story where he left off with Fifth Business, Davies switches narrators from Dunstan Ramsay to Boy Staunton's sun David. The first two thirds of the novel are Socratic in nature, being an exchange between David and a Jungian analyst. Watching David's character change and grow under the traditionally trained hand of Dr. von Haller was a vastly entertaining process. From the outset, David Staunton seems intolerably rich, or the kind of privileged class that is completely unaware that ...more
Anna
This is probably my favorite book.

First, you should know it's the second of a trilogy. I didn't know that when I picked it up, so I know it stands alone perfectly. If you do read the Deptford Trilogy I recommend starting with this one anyway.

The plot that connects the Deptford Trilogy is the murder of Boy Staunton. The first book, The Finth Business, is from the point of view of his oldest friend, who has a fairly good idea of what happened. The third, World of Wonders, is from the point of vie
...more
Jered
This novel is, more-or-less, the record, or diary, of David Staunton's psychoanalysis-- a self-imposed "punishment" after his mental breakdown and a psychotic episode that followed the mysterious death of his father. (The story of his father, Boy Staunton, is told in the first of the series [Fifth Business.])

I can't say I enjoyed The Manticore as much as Fifth Business, but it was exceptionally well-done. It seems no easy task to mold an in-depth psychoanalysis into a "good read." Every time I e
...more
Justin Mitchell
This book can only stand up if considered as the connective tissue between the first and third books of the Deptford Trilogy...if you haven't read Fifth Business, you're going to be completely lost, and the ending provides no satisfaction except the excitement of knowing you have only one book left. But, what shines is what a kick-ass writer Davies really was: his prose is clean yet complex, and challenging but never gimmicky. He reminds me a lot of John Gardner: both of them take the literary n ...more
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William Robertson Davies, CC, FRSC, FRSL (born August 28, 1913, at Thamesville, Ontario, and died December 2, 1995 at Orangeville, Ontario) was a Canadian novelist, playwright, critic, journalist, and professor. He was one of Canada's best-known and most popular authors, and one of its most distinguished "men of letters", a term Davies is sometimes said to have detested. Davies was the founding Ma ...more
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Other Books in the Series

The Deptford Trilogy (4 books)
  • Fifth Business
  • World of Wonders
  • The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders
Fifth Business The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders What's Bred in the Bone (Cornish Trilogy, #2) The Rebel Angels (Cornish Trilogy, #1) World of Wonders

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“But one must remember that they were all men with systems. Freud, monumentally hipped on sex (for which he personally had little use) and almost ignorant of Nature: Adler, reducing almost everything to the will to power: and Jung, certainly the most humane and gentlest of them, and possibly the greatest, but nevertheless the descendant of parsons and professors, and himself a super-parson and a super-professor. all men of extraordinary character, and they devised systems that are forever stamped with that character.… Davey, did you ever think that these three men who were so splendid at understanding others had first to understand themselves? It was from their self-knowledge they spoke. They did not go trustingly to some doctor and follow his lead because they were too lazy or too scared to make the inward journey alone. They dared heroically. And it should never be forgotten that they made the inward journey while they were working like galley-slaves at their daily tasks, considering other people's troubles, raising families, living full lives. They were heroes, in a sense that no space-explorer can be a hero, because they went into the unknown absolutely alone. Was their heroism simply meant to raise a whole new crop of invalids? Why don't you go home and shoulder your yoke, and be a hero too?” 36 likes
“All real fantasy is serious. Only faked fantasy is not serious. That is why it is so wrong to impose faked fantasy on children....” 8 likes
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