The Cunning Man
"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...more
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While the book was enjoyable it is a very slow reading book. I believe it was written int the late 40's early 50's and the writing style reflects th...more
The book spans the seventy years of Hullah's life from his own encounter with a Wise Woman following his miraculous recovery from scarlet feaver to the autumn of his life as a medical practitioner caring for his long-time friend Charlie...more
This book is told almost entirely through the first person n...more
To these wretches I was a marvel of well-being. It was inconceivable to them that I might have any cares, disappointments, aches or pains, for these things were their exclusive property. My appearance of well-being was a professional manner.
Anyhow, as I write now, so long after these events, it is all water-over-the-dam, or condoms-down-the-loo.
All right, many people have known worse things, but let them rejoice in their strength. .
Remember what that Frenchman...more
While "Murther and Walking Spirits" tells tales of a Canadian Methodist family, the second book in the unfinished Toronto Trilogy concerns a very different form of protestantism, as it concerns the clergy and congregation of Saint A...more
Four stars - solidly entertaining, particularly in the first and last thirds, and filled with wonderful Daviesian prose and observations. Dock a star for the irrelevant lesbians (they work in nearly every book - Schnak and her supervisor...more
Not a bad opening sentence for a novel in which all the action is precipitated by the death at the altar on Good Friday of a beloved priest in Toronto's high church Anglican parish of St Aidan's. The narrator, the cunning man of the title, Dr Hullah, has been a police surgeon and he has his suspicions about the sudden death of the old man. But his friend from childhood, Father Charlie Iredale, won't let him beyond the communion rail and the doctor does noth...more
The Cunning Man is a clever story, part mystery, part bildungsroman, part family saga and a bit of a romance, that keep...more
Perhaps because of my own background as a physician I found that nothing rang true or familiar about the central character. It was painfully clear that Davies simply constructed a persona based on his own artistic/literary background and lacked the ability to come up with a plausible character with a non-a...more
BMJ 20 October 2007 v355 p829
retired consultant physician, Oxfordshire
“Should I have taken the false teeth?” Thus, the curt opening of The Cunning Man by Robertson Davies, typical of Ca...more
"The gods destroy the heroes with a sudden blow, but they grind us mediocrities for weary, weary years." (416)
(I take issue with the philosophic outlook of the characters, which is a different issue entirely from whether or not this was a well-written, believable novel. Hence the four stars.)
"We complicated people must find our repose of spirit in further complexities. We cannot retreat to blockish simplicities."
I've been thinking of this as a bit of a guide for the past weeks. I have a tendency to retreat from the darker side of life's complexities and seek marshmallowy sweet distractions. Ultimately it is metabolized quickly, dissatisfying, not actually real.
wisdom,and humor. A valued wordsmith who's vocabulary is gargantuan.
Sadly he will be missed.
One of my favorite similies "He had a face like a horse with a secret sorrow"
The final sentence to this book is among the best ive read anywhere.
check it out.