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World of Wonders by Robertson Davies

World of Wonders (1975)

by Robertson Davies

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Deptford Trilogy (Book 3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,073147,788 (4.09)1 / 97
  1. 00
    Fata Morgana by William Kotzwinkle (ehines)
    ehines: Kotzwinkle's book isn't quite World of Wonders--a bit more of a pastiche--like World of Wonders it makes magic . . . well, magic. In an intelligent way.
  2. 00
    Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold (shanerichmond)
    shanerichmond: The lives of two magicians, and a slightly old- fashioned mode of storytelling seem to connect these books in my mind. Perhaps they are not that similar under the surface but they are both excellent.
  3. 00
    Regeneration by Pat Barker (ehines)
    ehines: I can see someone thinking this is a stretcher, but these two trilogies will always live together in my mind--two different takes on the crises of modernity which, to me, seem harmonious.

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English (12)  Spanish (2)  All (14)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Abans de començar-lo vaig ser advertit que, de la trilogia de Deptford, era el millor dels tres. Ara bé, un cop acabat no tinc aquesta sensació. Potser és un tema d'expectatives. En certs passatges m'ha semblat pesat, que es perdia en donar-nos detalls irrellevants mentre que en d'altres senzillament l'he devorat. Per això, aquesta sensació d'irregularitat. També he trobat el final una mica precipitat, després d'unes pàgines d'un ritme vertiginòs. Tot i així, m'ho he passat molt bé. Són tres grans obres que mereixen ser llegides en algun moment. ( )
  the_baptist | Jul 11, 2017 |
Part of Davies' Depford trilogy, we see things from yet another perspective in this book. This is my favorite set of books by Davies. We see how important perspective is and how it can color everything one perceives. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
The third book of the Deptford trilogy gives us the story of how Paul Dempster became Magnus Eisengrim. While Dunstan Ramsay told us his story in the first book in terms of history (and saints!) and David Staunton told his story in the second book against a background of Jungian analysis, Magnus tells his story in the framework of theater and film.

Although I was eager to find out about Magnus's life story, I found that this third book was slightly less gripping than the previous two. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jul 17, 2014 |
As usual, the conceit of the storytelling doesn't work for me at all -- so clunky -- but the characters are engaging and fascinating. I like that these novels are so much about memory, what we choose to tell, what we falsely remember, what we refuse to remember, and what motives might underlie unreliable narration -- and also about how much and how little those issues matter to the various people involved. ( )
  sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
My 5 star rating of this book really reflects my feelings on how I think Davies masterfully wrapped up the Deptford trilogy than it does an individual rating for this volume itself (don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but I think [b:Fifth Business|76896|Fifth Business|Robertson Davies|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1170899762s/76896.jpg|603433] is the strongest, and best, volume in the trilogy). I guess I’d say that the individual books themselves range from around 3.5 to 4.5 stars, but the series overall is a five star read. As with all of the Deptford books _World of Wonders_ is a personal memoir that gives us further insight, from yet another angle, into the lives and motivations of the characters we met in earlier volumes, most of whom hailed from the small Ontario town of Deptford. The ‘problems’ of the memoir style itself (the inescapable desire to make oneself into the hero, the inability to really understand the motivations and actions of others from one's limited point of view, the unreliability of looking back onto the past from the vantage of the present) are perhaps brought even more to the fore in this volume than they were in the others as we sit back and listen to the harrowing tale of the life of the mysterious magus Magnus Eisengrim, Paul Dempster.

Magnus, along with our old friends Dunstan Ramsay and Leisl Vitzliputzli, is in the midst of starring in a film in which he is portraying the legendary conjurer Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin. During the course of filming, and in a completely characteristic attempt to demonstrate his own personal greatness and provide a ‘sub-text’ to the film, Eisengrim decides to reveal to his friends and the filmmaker’s entourage the details of his life that led to his becoming, in his own words, the greatest conjurer that has ever lived. It is certainly not a story that bears any resemblance to the romantic ‘biography’ fashioned by Ramsay as a piece of propaganda for Eisengrim’s Soiree of Illusions. What we are instead presented with is a tale of abuse, loneliness, and fortitude as we see young Paul Dempster kidnapped from his awful home in Deptford only to have it replaced by an awful purgatory in the travelling carnival Wanless' World of Wonders.

Eisengrim (only the last in a long line of many aliases) is truly a ‘self-made man’. As he himself mentions, the treatment and conditions under which he lived from the age of ten onwards were of a kind that would either have killed him early or strengthened him beyond expectation. Luckily for Paul Dempster the latter proved to be the case. We see how a lonely, frightened boy could be transformed into the monster of ego and talent that was Magnus Eisengrim, and once again observe how the ripples of effect from one small action (the throwing of that fateful snowball on a cold winter day in Deptford in 1908) helped shape yet another life. Eisengrim, for all of his suffering, is not a sympathetic hero (though hero he is, in all of his outsized grandeur) and once again it is fascinating to see the same characters and actions from the previous volumes of the trilogy as viewed through a completely different lens. Luckily (in my opinion at least) we once again have the voice of Dunstan Ramsay, that clever old schoolmaster and saint-hunter, though in a decidedly minor key. Eisengrim is certainly not going to let anyone interfere with his own personal hagiography, but Ramsay’s caustic tongue is given some range of expression and his scholar’s eye is always on the look-out for ‘the truth’(at least inasmuch as he is able to perceive it).

We discover in this tale the final pieces of the puzzle in the coming together of Magnus, Leisl and Ramsay and the production of that great work of illusion and art, the life of Magnus Eisengrim (as depicted in his own Soiree of Illusions), but I will leave the details of Paul Dempster’s ‘hero’s journey’ to you. Rest assured that the culmination of it is a thoroughly entertaining, one might even say enlightening, tale that takes us very far indeed from the environs of little Deptford but still manages to come full circle and comment on the series that was born there as a whole. Boy Staunton, that unchallenged giant and yet largely obscure figure in the lives of others, makes his final appearance and we can now look back on the many stories of the Stauntons, the Ramsays and the Dempsters in order to get a much fuller (though still never really complete) picture of those intertwined lives that affected each other in such significant ways. So, I would guess, do all of our lives (knowingly or unknowingly) intertwine and create an inextricable web of story and interdependence, whether we realize it or not. ( )
  dulac3 | Apr 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
"a novel of stunning verbal energy and intelligence"
L'objet du scandale explorait les miracles des saints, officiels ou non, tandis que le Manticore faisait appel aux rêves et aux mythes. Le Monde des merveilles rend hommage à l'envoûtement du théâtre ... avec la gratitude de celui qui jouit du plaisir d'être dupé. L'auteur partage avec ses personnages un humour qui transfigure leur vision du monde. Pour lui, la notion de vérité dernière est bien trop grave pour ne pas mériter d'être malmenée. Les pirouettes et rebondissements qu'elle subit tout au long de la Trilogie de Deptford en témoignent.
added by Ariane65 | editLibération, Hélie Lassaigne

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140043896, Paperback)

This is the third novel in Davies's major work, The Deptford Trilogy. This novel tells the life story of the unfortunate boy introduced in The Fifth Business, who was spirited away from his Canadian home by one of the members of a traveling side show, the Wanless World of Wonders.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:58 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Telling the life story of the unfortunate boy introduced in 'The Fifth Business', this is the third novel in Davies' 'The Deptford Trilogy'.

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