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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Fifth Business (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)


Fifth Business (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics) Cover

ISBN13: 9780141186153
ISBN10: 0141186151
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Ramsay is a man twice born, a man who has returned from the hell of the battle-grave at Passchendaele in World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross and destined to be caught in a no man's land where memory, history, and myth collide. As Ramsay tells his story, it begins to seem that from boyhood, he has exerted a perhaps mystical, perhaps pernicious, influence on those around him. His apparently innocent involvement in such innocuous events as the throwing of a snowball or the teaching of card tricks to a small boy in the end prove neither innocent nor innocuous.

Fifth Business stands alone as a remarkable story told by a rational man who discovers that the marvelous is only another aspect of the real.


The first novel in Davies's celebrated "Deptford Trilogy" introduces Ramsay, a man who returns from World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross who is destined to be caught in a no man's land where memory, history, and myth collide.

About the Author

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) had three successive careers during the time he became an internationally acclaimed

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megcampbell3, November 11, 2007 (view all comments by megcampbell3)
No other novel has quite the same punch as it draws its reader to the realization that we are all, really, the fifth business (see "Fifth Business" for an explanation), at least, at some point in life. Either that or I was at that exact point myself as I was reading "Fifth Business", feeling sorry for myself that Davies has actually led me to this understanding. This stand-alone novel (the first in Davies' Deptford Trilogy) spans almost the entire lifetime of its narrator, protagonist, and extremely interesting fifth business: Dunstan Ramsay. His story is dense, his narration intelligent and satisfying. I felt as if I was, in part and at turns, transported into select scenes of the film "Citizen Kane", lovely little bits of Katherine Dunn's "Geek Love", the canon of Steven Millhauser's works, and the deepest part of my own clouded and innocent memory of childhood; and then, there was Canada, the surface world, the below surface world, and two great wars. And such a sense of winter! Only Wharton's novel "Ethan Frome" could make a reader feel the chill more deeply. Davies' canvas is so vast, and then at turns just as minute as the fears we carry around inside ourselves regarding what our lives will actually amount to when all is said and done. Bravo! I am happy that there are more Robertson Davies books to read; I won't think about the fact that he's been gone for twelve years until, like my sister who recommended this book to me, I have only one of his books left to read, which will have to be saved for the primary joy on the rainiest possible day.
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Product Details

Godwin, Gail
Godwin, Gail
Davies, Robertson
Penguin Books
New York
School principals
World War, 1914-1918
Christian hagiography.
Didactic fiction
History teachers
Psychological fiction
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics
Series Volume:
bk. 2
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
7.76x5.20x1.05 in. .43 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Fifth Business (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 272 pages Penguin Books - English 9780141186153 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The first novel in Davies's celebrated "Deptford Trilogy" introduces Ramsay, a man who returns from World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross who is destined to be caught in a no man's land where memory, history, and myth collide.

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