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High Spirits
Robertson Davies
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High Spirits

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  563 Ratings  ·  40 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)
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Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

¿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
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Es maravilloso que hayan transcurrido cinco mil años desde la creación del mundo y todavía no se sepa con certeza si ha habido o no algún caso de aparición del espíritu de una persona difunta. Todos los argumentos están en contra, pero todas las creencias están a favor"
James Boswell

Gran libro de relatos. Exquisitamente escrito.

Evidentemente como en todo libro de este tipo, hay algún que otro relato más flojillo, pero en general me han gustado bastante.

Son un conjunto de 18 relatos de fantasmas
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
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
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
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
Иван Величков
Една доста нетипична книга за автора(което ме и привлече в нея). През осемнадесетте години като декан на Масай колежа към университета в Торонто (от 63 до 81) Дейвис разказва по една призрачна история на всяко коледно парти. Това е сборник събрал тези истории. Не са плашещи или стряскащи, точно напротив - забавни, свежи и показващи високата ерудиция на автора, който като преподавател и по готическа литература има какво да каже по въпроса. Щедри дози хумор, сарказъм и самоирония; исторически перс ...more
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
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
Feb 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mary Anne Thompson
In High Spirits, Robertson Davies' intelligence and love of story shines. I am sure that he completely captivated his dinner audience as he does the reader of the 18 stories. The stories all purport to be 'true' and the reader is in on the joke; the stories are delightful and charming. Davies' sense of fun is infectious. High Spirits is a lovely antidote to the stresses of life and the misery of politics.
Wonderful ghost stories that are not scary in the least.
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
Aug 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, short-stories
i didn’t expect this to be funny.

i’m not sure what i did expect but it makes sense that Robertson Davies would spin yarns at these holiday functions that would entertain but not truly frighten. in fact, he often makes jabs at the academic life very adroitly in these tales.

in doing so, he’s left “real” ghost stories behind and created more Twilight Zone-ish vignettes that are suffused with sardonic humor. there’s more of gravy than of grave to these stories, as it were.

excellent bedtime reads or
This is a compilation of "ghost stories" told over the years by Roberston Davies at Massey College's Christmas dinner. Do not expect spine tingling tales. . . this book is satire. It is filled with in-jokes that are pretty funny if you get them. I think I got most of the literary in jokes (example: The ghost of Einstein says that like most childless people, he has a very high esteem for children and Roberston Davies quips, "You should reread King Lear.") I did *not* get all of the in-jokes about ...more
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
Tyler Jones
Well, it's almost Christmas least it is as I write these words. So, time for a good old fashioned ghost story or two! This is a collection of stories Davies wrote for his college's annual Christmas celebration, and while they all contain his dry wit and erudite charm, they vary greatly in the amount of imagination and verve they possess. Some are simply wonderful while others have the feel of something dashed off to fill his annual obligation.
Julie Davis
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#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?
Sep 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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...
May 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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:]
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Mar 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
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.
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, shorts
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?
May 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!!!
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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".
Sep 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Davies is, as always, a complete delight to read.
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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
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