Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “High Spirits” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
High Spirits
Robertson Davies
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

High Spirits

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  474 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Robertson Davies first hit upon the notion of writing ghost stories when he joined the University of Toronto’s Massey College as a master. A tradition quickly became established and, for 18 years, Davies delighted and amused the college’s annual Gaudy Night guests with his tales of the supernatural. Here, in a handsome 25th Anniversary Edition, are those 18 stories, just a ...more
Published October 27th 1983 by Viking Books (first published 1982)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about High Spirits, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about High Spirits

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 800)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Quien desee encontrar el terror en estos relatos, no lo va a encontrar. Estos cuentos están escritos desde una óptica humorística, en donde los protagonistas son fantasmas, pero que no dan miedo en absoluto. ‘Espíritu festivo’, del canadiense Robertson Davies, es una colección de relatos publicada en 1981, tras la jubilación del autor como decano del Massey College. La idea surgió en 1963, cuando a Robertson Davies se le ocurrió contar en voz alta una historia de fantasmas en época navideña, alg ...more
Vanessa Wu
One of my big regrets in life is that I haven't read enough of Robertson Davies's novels.

He is one of the writers I discovered for myself in my lonely journey towards literacy and, not knowing anything about him or the literary tradition to which he belonged, I found it very hard to prioritise his novels in my many long lists of books that I wanted and needed to read.

I discovered later that it's because he's Canadian. Ah, you see, we didn't have Goodreads when I began my long literary journey,
Robertson Davies originally wrote these eighteen stories to be read at his college's Christmas party, so of course they all feature ghosts in the college setting and of various literary and historical origins, from Queen Victoria to Henrik Ibsen. They're all entertaining, with only a touch of scariness, and full of Davies' signature erudite wit; I particularly liked the tale of the "ghost who vanished by degrees", who needs to take his Ph.D. examination in order to pass on to the other side, the ...more
Roberston Davies and ghost stories? Say no more! I don't know why I expected something absolutely bone chilling considering his normal fare but what I got was better. Eighteen ghost stories he told to U of T students - one of my alma maters - and all of them are quirky and funny and erudite just as much as the rest of his work. I had a great time reading them and had to giggle and smirk a bit as his very Canadian references. As per usual I cannot praise Davies enough, he is one of my favourite w ...more
I found _High Spirits_ after hearing an amazing audio version of "The Cat That Went to Trinity" (and with a little help from the Goodreads "What's the Name of that Book" Group). The book is a collection of light-hearted ghost stories that Davies delivered yearly as Master of Massey College in Toronto. The tales are largely a vehicle for Davies to play around with literary and historical figures and to be witty, charming, and self-effacing. I enjoyed his skewering of various aspects of literary s ...more
Every story in this book is a joy. Davies spoofs himself, as, in his persona as Master of Massey College of the University of Toronto, he narrates them. It seems that there is something about Massey College that is attractive to ghosts, famous, infamous and not famous at all. "Every part of our great University strives for distinction of one kind or another, but it is everywhere admitted that in the regularity and variety of our ghostly visitations Massey College stands alone." Even Little Lord ...more
Charles Dalrymple-Fraser
Though I've a small collection of Davies sitting on my bookcase, this was my first interaction with his pen. A collection of eighteen "ghost" stories, presented annually at his Massey College, High Spirits: A Collection of Ghost Stories is a delightful collection of higher writ and wit humour. Here, those familiar with Massey, Trinity, and other academic institutions will find many calling cards to a familiar place, interspersed with well-read allusions and common illusions. I have no doubt that ...more

¿Os acordáis de El club de medianoche, donde un grupo de intrépidos adolescentes se reunían alrededor de una hoguera en mitad del bosque, arrojaban extraños polvos al fuego y después se contaban historias de miedo? Pues bien, bastante parecida a la emblemática serie de los 90 es la génesis de este Espíritu festivo, una entretenida y variopinta colección de relatos que Robertson Davies escribió a lo largo de dieciocho años como respuesta a las peticiones de sus compañeros universitarios. Dieci
I love Robertson Davies's work. I love his erudition, his humor, his wisdom, his sense of fun. This is the first collection of short stories I've read of him, a sort of MR Jamesian tribute to the scholarly tradition of a ghost story at Christmas. Unlike James, however, these stories aren't meant to scare so much as amuse and enlighten, which they do time and again.

Davies was the founding master at Massey College, a position which he held for eighteen years. For each of those eighteen years he co
Ah, Robertson Davies--you never disappoint!

Davies wrote these stories, one each year for the 18 years he served as the first Master of Massey College, to be read aloud during the annual Christmas party. They're definitely light-hearted and humorous tales about Davies himself and his experiences with various distinguished ghostly guests of the school--including his own ghostly visit to whomever the 9th Master of Massey College might be (5 more to go)! Several of these stories are pretty hilarious
Julie Davis
#4 - 2010.

Can't remember where I saw this recommended but these are extremely enjoyable humorous takes on the classic English "Christmas Eve" tellings of subsequent experiences by the first Master of Massey College. Every year he experiences either a ghostly visitation or some other supernatural adventure which luckily happens in time for him to tell it on Christmas Eve. Funny without being over the top. I will probably have to investigate this author's other works after this.
This collection of ghost stories (sort of) written for and set in the academia of the University of Toronto is well-written but ultimately rather dull stuff. These tales were meant to be read out loud by Davies to his peers at the college, and I'm sure all the inside-baseball killed there and then. But here and now, I can't really recommend this unless you happen to be a professor at the University of Toronto. Do you?
As much as I enjoyed The Rebel Angels, as much as Davies had his occasional moments of sly dry wit, these were mostly terrible and a slog to get through. Truthfully, had it not been a collection on the smaller side, I'd have tossed it aside rather than finish. So... don't waste your time?
I'd heard this collection of ghost stories was the inspiration for the movie of the same name. However, the book appears to have little to do with the movie which is probably a good thing. Robinson Davies writes well and is quite witty on occasion. Still, I found the stories a little silly overall as he relies on humor about academia overmuch for my taste.
This is a collection of the yearly ghost stories, told by Davies at the Massey College's annual Gaudy Night over the course of 18 years. They tend to be rather non-standard, inasmuch as I'm familiar with ghost stories (which I'm not really), but Davies really is an awesome writer so it's something probably worth looking at if you come across it.
Davies is one of the most *charming* writers I have read (probably because he's Canadian). These are not "ghost stories" in the obvious way- they are meant not to terrify, but rather amuse. My favorite is the one in which the bust of Charles Dickens drives a student madly to his death and then eats his body. Ghoulish, but absurdly enjoyable.
High Spirits, Robertson Davies' collection of Massey College ghost stories, is a pleasing little set of tales, which would, however, lose most of their charm, I think, for someone who didn't know the College. For me, they were intensely evocative, although of an era in the college that I just missed. [These note were made in 1983:]
Wittily introduced by Davies, as himself (no alter ego this time), this book is a collection of hilarious ghost stories Davies wrote in celebration of Christmas, a tradition in the college he was the master of. Each year, he wrote and read one of those delightful stories as part of the festivities. What a treat it must have been...
If you are looking for traditional ghost stories look elsewhere. Davies wrote these stories to be read aloud at the annual University of Toronto "Gaudy" Christmas party. Keep in mind these stories target a specific audience but are full of wit and you really can not go wrong with anything he wrote.
I didn't really enjoy the first two ghost stories in this collection, once I got past them I sped through this book.

My favourite short stories in the collection were:
- The Night of the Three Kings
- The Charlottetown Banquet
- Conversations with the Little Table
Davies wrote theseghost stories to read to faculty & students at Massey College in Toronto (where Davies was Master) every year at the annual Christmas party. Hilarious, spooky, and entertaining, as always! Love this man!!!
A perfect match of narrator and author. Christopher Plummer brings life to the ghosts and the laughs to Davies' writing. Left wanting to read more. Time to pick up a copy of "The Deptford Trilogy".
The first few stories in this collection are extremely clever. Sadly, the cleverness fades as the stories continue. Still, it's well worth reading if only for the first two stories.
Steve Banes
An amazing collection of hilarious ghost stories told by a super talented Canadian college master... I'm really looking forward to reading more from him (thanks Mew!)
Fantastic! In every meaning of the word! Fun, delightful, creative, entertaining, witty, shimmery. Just plain great. Thanks Gareth!
Adam Maloof
Nov 10, 2007 Adam Maloof rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Graduate Students
"The Ghost Who Vanished by Degrees" is perfect preparation for graduate students about to take their general exams.
Jerry Haigh
Lovely book to dip into now and again, especially around Halloween.
Davies is, as always, a complete delight to read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 26 27 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Unsettled Dust
  • The Street
  • Light Lifting
  • Carnacki, the Ghost Finder
  • Not Safe After Dark: And Other Stories
  • Novelle per un anno
  • 100 Ghastly Little Ghost Stories
  • En el bosque, bajo los cerezos en flor
  • Let's Kill Uncle
  • Tea with Mr. Rochester
  • Across the Bridge: Stories
  • Terror by Night: Classic Ghost & Horror Stories (Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural)
  • Small Change
  • The Penguin Book of Gaslight Crime: Con Artists, Burglars, Rogues, and Scoundrels from the Time of Sherlock Holmes
  • Mad Hope
  • Narrativa completa (Vol. I)
  • Circus
  • Selected Stories
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
More about Robertson Davies...
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) The Manticore

Share This Book

“Nothing grows old-fashioned so fast as modernity.” 8 likes
More quotes…