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The Manticore (The Deptford Trilogy #2)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  4,528 Ratings  ·  219 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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Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it

If the first volume of this trilogy had me dreaming about saints (view spoiler), I could expect fantasy to continue in this second volume. This time it appeared in the guise of psychoanalysis. Thank god, (or thanks the saints?) it was not Freudian rant, since I have very little patience with that; the Jungian mode is the one developed instead.

Much more creative.

And artistic.

The world of conjurors and miracles and tricks of the hat has gi
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
The Foreigners We Deserve

A remarkable journey of Jungian psychoanalysis. Manticore will therefore appeal to Platonists (as myself) who recognise the limits of language but also its necessity in figuring out what we are. Aristotelian scientific types are likely to be disappointed. Freud thought in terms of flaws in the psyche brought about through trauma, Jung in terms of psychic purpose and its adaptations. There is no rational way to choose between the two perspectives; the facts fit either. Ae
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Manticore είναι ένα μυθικό πλάσμα με σώμα λιονταριού, κεφαλή ανθρώπου και ουρά με κεντρί. Ο δεύτερος τόμος της επικής τριλογίας του Ντέιβις, που συγκρίνεται με τον Μάγο του Φάουλς, ξεκινάει απο εκεί που σταμάτησε ο πρώτος, αλλάζει αφηγητή, συνεχίζει την μυθική αφήγηση του βίο των Καναδέζων πρωταγωνιστών, η ιστορία είναι αινιγματική όσο το μυθικό πλάσμα στο εξώφυλλο, και καταφέρνει να είναι καλύτερη από τον πρώτη.

Ο πρώτος τόμος ήταν ένα εντυπωσιακό βιβλίο, όπου ο πρωταγωνιστής Ράμσει, από το Ντέπ
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
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
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
“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.”
― Robertson Davies, The Manticore


The second novel in Davies' Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore focuses largely on the life of Boy Staunton's son David. Like Fifth Business before, this novel contains amazing prose and a caste of characters that are not quite loveable, but amazingly human at the same
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
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: carl-jung
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
Продолжаю переслушивать Дептфордскую трилогию и очень довольна; Робертсон Дэвис умный и не занудный, как жаль, что с авторами такое редко случается.
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In the second volume of the acclaimed Deptford Trilogy, we switch narrators, from Dunstan “Boy” Staunton, to his son David. David is a successful lawyer but is a heavy drinker and is emotionally stunted. He travels to Zurich to receive therapy and to deal with his haunted past and the looming shadow of his, indomitable father.
David Staunton is a difficult main character and readers may find him cold and reserved, but in Davies, deft and crafty hands, he has created another sharp and inventive na
Terence Manleigh
Book Two of "The Deptford Trilogy," one of the oddest, most entertaining series of books ever written. Davies serves up a delicious, witty, Jungian ice cream sundae.
Kim Fay
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jackie "the Librarian"
Sep 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Terri Kempton
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2012
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
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2012
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
Victor Sonkin
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 l
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 Kay
Jan 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
May 30, 2013 rated it liked it
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...

The manticore turns out to be a Jungian metaphor. We don't even find out how many hit dice it has.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017

Read in the trilogy omnibus edition. Review here.
Kathy Mcconkey
Mar 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Found this book fascinating even though I am not a psychologist. It was really one long psychoanalysis session. Learned alot about Jungian archetypes.
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Imagine if Hamlet had had a psychiatrist and you've got a pretty good idea of what Davies' The Manticore is getting at. The cleverly presented autobiography of David Staunton.
Mar 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Joel Fishbane
May 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
As usual, Davies writes wonderful prose and can turn a great anecdote here and there, but there wasn't much story here apart from what seemed like a somewhat trite process of self-discovery through fictionalized, heavily exposition-laden Jungian psychoanalysis.
Helena R-D
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this one when I was 18 or 19 and it still holds up. But more of a quaint portrait of a Canadian man that no longer exists.

David Staunton is a bit of a sad character in that he's forced to live in the shadow of his larger than life father as well as refusing to see him as a man. He's got issues, to be frank. And seeing his life held out in psycho analytic sessions, it's obvious to see why he is the way he is.

But once he pulls the curtains back of his life and events, at the end, there is
The second of Davies's Deptford trilogy picks up more or less at the end of Fifth Business but shifts focus to David Staunton, who narrates his own life story across most of the volume, as he undergoes Jungian psychoanalysis. Almost certainly readable if one has not read the first book, this one nevertheless gains resonance if one has knowledge of the first book. Davies is quite skilled at unsentimental, complex characterization, and this is a novel almost entirely of characterization, lacking a ...more
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William Robertson Davies, CC, FRSC, FRSL (died in 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 Master of Massey College, a graduate college at the University of Toro ...more
More about Robertson Davies...

Other Books in the Series

The Deptford Trilogy (3 books)
  • Fifth Business (The Deptford Trilogy, #1)
  • World of Wonders (The Deptford Trilogy, #3)

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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?” 40 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....” 12 likes
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