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Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

Fifth Business (1970)

by Robertson Davies

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2,367642,654 (4.19)1 / 320
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Although the writing was excellent, this book failed to wow me. From reading other reviews, it seems that people either love it or hate it. I fall somewhere in between. I can appreciate the themes of Jungian archetypes, creation of a personal mythology, the exploration of morality and sainthood… but it just didn’t make a very good story. In my humble opinion, there were bits that were downright silly. (In this respect, it reminded me a bit of “A Trip to the Stars” by Nicholas Christopher, another book which has a main character who takes a baffling detour to a career in stage magic)

I just couldn’t take Dunstan Ramsay at face value, I found him to be a very unreliable (and annoying) narrator. The book is less than 300 pages, but it felt longer than “War and Peace”, it especially drags in the last half and I honestly forced myself to finish. I feel a bit sorry for my niece and her classmates who have to read this for school – if I had read this 25 years ago I would have been firmly in the “hate it” camp.
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  memccauley6 | May 3, 2016 |
Well written. Too bad that the blurb on the back of my paperback contained a major spoiler - that the snowball Boy Staunton throws in the beginning of the book contained a rock - as the impact of the book's ending was much lessened for me. ( )
  leslie.98 | Feb 16, 2016 |
Not much I can say that hasn't already been said by others. Davies has a wonderfully accessible writing style. He brings lofty topics like religion, sainthood, philosophy and morality to his story without going all "high-brow". He also has a way with words that I found engaging... I felt as though Ramsey was laying plain his life story directly to me, like a conversation between two people sitting around a kitchen table over a cup of coffee. Don't get me wrong, though... this is anything but a simple, straightforward story. Davies knows how to write in a way that kept me wanting to read more so it came as no surprise to me that I managed to read the entire book in the course of three evenings. I love the idea of the 'Fifth Business' - that one cannot make the plot work unless there is a odd member of the cast that has no rival/partner but carries the twist of the plot as he is the one who know a secret the others do not - and can understand why Davies chose this as the title for his story.

Robertson Davies is undoubtedly one of the pillars mentioned whenever a conversation of noteworthy Canadian authors comes up and it is that reputation of lofty acclaim that always held me back from attempting to read any of his books... I was afraid his books would be filled with topics that would go over my head, making me feel inadequate as a reader. I no longer have those thoughts/fears. I now happily and excitedly look forward to reading everything Davies has written. ( )
1 vote lkernagh | Jan 31, 2016 |
The first novel in The Deptford Trilogy concerns three men, Dunstable Ramsay, Percy Boyd "Boy" Staunton, and Paul Dempster, who grew up in the fictional Canadian town of Deptford, which is based on Robertson Davies' home town of Thamesville, Ontario. Their lives are linked by the events on one fateful day in 1908, when young Percy throws a snowball in anger at Dunstable, and instead hits Paul's mother, who is pregnant with him, causing her to go into premature labor that evening. The novel is narrated by Dunstable, in the form of a letter about his life to the headmaster of the school that he has taught in for years and recently retired from. The lives and loves of Percy and Paul are integral to his own life, so we learn about them, and how the three influenced each other, for good as well as bad.

The three men lead fascinating lives, and each finds success in a different fashion, although none escape from personal tragedy. The novel is full of twists and unexpected turns, and it was very well written and a definite page turner. Instead of describing what happens to the three and possibly spoil the surprises I would suggest that you read the literary treat that is Fifth Business for yourself. I own The Deptford Trilogy, and I eagerly look forward to reading the remaining two novels, The Manticore and World of Wonders, later this year. ( )
1 vote kidzdoc | Jan 29, 2016 |
First installment of his Deptford Trilogy, this is Davis' best book. It contains a whole book full of wonderfully complex characters. While it is certainly not necessary to read the whole trilogy, if one does so one gains unique insight into Davies life. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
"This is the revenge of the unlived life, Ramsay. Suddenly it makes a fool of you."

"The prima donna and the tenor, the contralto and the basso, get all the best music and do all the spectacular things, but you cannot manage the plot without Fifth Business!"

Ten-year-old Dunstable Ramsay smartly dodges the snowball, thrown by Percy Boyd (later, Boy) Staunton. Said snowball hits the pregnant Mrs. Dempster, instead, leading perhaps to the premature birth of Paul. Told from Ramsay's point of view, Fifth Business is the story of his life and his various involvements with Boy Staunton and Paul Dempster. Staunton becomes a filthy rich industrialist and Paul runs off to join the circus while Ramsay plods along what must be considered a more mundane path: time in the trenches during WWI, education, and a career spent teaching boys in a fairly mediocre boarding school. To be both the Fifth Business and the protagonist is perhaps a bit of irony, or perhaps it is a profound statement on the universality of being the first-person narrator in our own (sometimes undramatic) dramas. In any case, this is a delightful novel with memorable characters. I will certainly be reading the second book in Robertson's Deptford Trilogy. ( )
  EBT1002 | Aug 12, 2015 |
I think I have read this book before as some of the parts seemed familiar especially one particular line but I really do not remember anything substantial about it. When I saw it was on the list of 100 Books the Make you Proud to be Canadian published by CBC Books this year I knew it was the time to read it.

Dunstan (born Dunstable) Ramsey grew up in Deptford, a small Ontario town. His father was the editor of the town newspaper and his mother raised Dunstan and his brother while also helping out neighbours in "matters relating to pregnancy and childbirth". She was called on in this capacity to attend to the Baptist parson's wife, Mrs. Dempster, when her baby came early. The circumstances leading to the premature birth involved Dunstan and his "lifelong friend and enemy" Percy Boyd Staunton. The two had quarrelled over the merits of their respective sleighs and as Dunstan went home Percy followed him throwing snowballs at him. Just as Dunstan got near his house Reverend and Mrs Dempster were seen out for a stroll. To avoid one last snowball from Percy Dunstan darted in front of the couple and the snowball hit Mrs. Dempster. She went down hard and started crying. The baby came that night and Mrs. Ramsey was on hand with the doctor to help out. The baby, Paul, survived but Mrs. Dempster seemed not right in the head; simple as the Deptford people called her. Dunstan felt responsible for what had befallen her and, even when she was disgraced, he continued to visit her. He believed she had performed miracles, including raising his brother from the dead, which led him to study saints for the rest of his life.

The title of the book refers to the theatrical convention that every play and opera must have, besides the hero, heroine, confidante and villain, a role that brings about the conclusion which is called Fifth Business. Dunstan Ramsey is the Fifth Business in this story about fate catching up to a perpetrator even if it takes almost a lifetime. It took me a while to figure out who the fulfilled the role of the confidante and it really could be two people. Dunstan writes this book to the Headmaster of the school where he taught for 45 years because he objected to the inane piece about him that appeared in the school paper. So the Headmaster could be the confidante. On the other hand, there is another character that Dunstan tells all about his life even though he has a reputation as a keeper of secrets. This person doesn't appear until the last third of the book but when you get there you will be intrigued.

This is the first book of the Deptford trilogy; the other books in the trilogy are The Manticore and World of Wonders. ( )
  gypsysmom | Jul 2, 2015 |
* See note below
  perthreader | Apr 11, 2015 |
Intelligent and weird--in a good way--as are all Davies novels. Strange characters, casual erudition. Sad, but the grim humor keeps it from being overwhelmingly depressing. You can definitely see the connection to writers like Dickens and John Irving. ( )
  RGilbraith | Nov 1, 2014 |

"Fifth Business,” the first book in The Deptford Trilogy by Canadian writer Robertson Davies, is Dunstan Ramsay’s memoir written as a letter to a Headmaster of Colborne College, where Dunstan was teaching for 45 years. This letter-memoir was provoked by a farewell article which offended Dunstan deeply as it downplayed his accomplishments and presented him as "a typical old schoolmaster doddering into retirement with tears in his eyes and a drop hanging from his nose." The story told by this letter-memoir turned out to be far away from what at first sight might look quite ordinary.


1) Beautiful writing and thought-provoking content.
Not without a reason "Fifth Business'' is a classic: the writing is so simple yet so beautiful (truly a piece of art), and the main themes, such as religion and morality, illusion and reality, debilitating effects of guilt, and lifelong effects of childhood and family, offer timeless lessons. It is one of those books which demands to be thought about, if not read, over and over, and which gets better the more you do so. It is a great choice for a book club!

2) Wide vocabulary.
One of the reasons that made Robertson Davies' prose so beautiful is his ability to pick just the right words: descriptive, playful, and often not very common. Such a wide vocabulary not only makes his writing more lively but also serves as a great vocabulary exercise as most of these words are rarely used in everyday conversations.


1) Strong beginning and ending but a little bit slow in between.
I especially loved the first third of the book and gobbled it up in a day, but later the action slowed down, and my excitement wore off. The last chapter was captivating yet again, and the ending remarks made it all worth it, but somewhere in the middle I caught myself wishing that the book was shorter. However, it might be just me getting tired of extensive dictionary search because, since English is not my native language, I was looking up several words per page as I wanted to understand every single wordplay or colorful epithet.

VERDICT: 4 out of 5

Although I really liked the main themes and the writing style of this book, the story itself could have been a little bit more eventful. ( )
1 vote AgneJakubauskaite | Aug 4, 2014 |
The book grabbed my interest from the start, mainly due to the writing, and while the story didn't always engage me, the book has me wanting more from the author, and it's very likely I will read the rest of this series in the near future.

What I liked best about the book was the writing, it hooked me in from the start and kept me reading to the end. I will definitely read the rest of the books in the trilogy and probably everything else by the author, as the writing and storytelling was just that good.

The only snag was this particular book lost me part of the way through. While I enjoyed the story, I did feel that there were parts that dragged on and I was hoping the story would move faster. I also found there wasn't a character I really enjoyed, I didn't dislike any of them, but there wasn't a character that stuck with me. With that being said, the characters were very complex and full of depth, they just didn't jump out at me, which usually happens when the author has similar style to Davies. Overall, it was a good book, and one that is well worth reading, I will definitely be adding the author to the top of my CanLit reading list.

Also found on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - Fifth Business ( )
  bookwormjules | Jul 27, 2014 |
Although I understood the story, I felt like there were many layers to it that I was just missing. What I did like was how real the people and places were.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
A book that is tightly written and plotted. A book that has all the essentials of a great read. I can see why it's considered a Canadian classic. ( )
  charlie68 | Jun 29, 2014 |
so, so great! this is, i think, a master class in fiction writing, and a really fantastic story. classic for a reason!

though i consider davies one of my favourite writers, i have not read this novel for a long, long time. a long time. so i was nervous - worried i wouldn't love it as much as i think i do. but it was amazing and i love it still with even stronger appreciation now. i can't imagine this book being taught successfully to most high school students - and my teacher did do a great job. there is just so much going on in this book that, with time allotted on a curriculum, would - i think - barely cover the basics. ( )
  Booktrovert | May 19, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this book, I read somewhere that is was the idea for John Irving's book "A Prayer for Owen Meany", but really apart from the freak accident at the start of the book it was nothing like it at all! Still very absorbing though. Dunny Ramsey and Boy Staunton had a sort of Love/hate relationship from childhood, when coming back from sledding one day after an argument Boy threw a snowball at Dunny containing a stone, Dunny ducked and it hit Mrs Dempster inducing early labour and leaving her with mental problems. Here is where the story really starts. The guilt of one, the selfish thoughtlessness of the other and the results of the hideous consequences of the last.
Dunny becomes a teacher and somewhat of an expert on saints writing books about them. Boy becomes a well heeled business man and later a powerful political mogul. The baby born prematurely Paul becomes a master of prestidigitation and goes on to have a fairly important part in the story . With a very unexpected ending.
Quite in depth and full of very profound observations about the differences of spiritualism and down right materialism. I really liked it. ( )
  Glorybe1 | Apr 1, 2014 |
Terrific story of Dunny Ramsay, long time school master and his friend/rival Boy Staunton, who becomes a very powerful man in Canada... A snowball misses its intended target, and hits Mary Demster, sending her into premature labor... she becomes, for Dunny a fool-saint... Dunny becomes an academic, expert in saints... Paul, the son born to Mary, plays a prominent role towards the end. Wonderful storytelling, wonderful characterizations... audio version well read.... ( )
  DavidO1103 | Feb 22, 2014 |
This has been on my to-read list for years and somehow I managed to be completely unspoiled -- to the point that I had no idea what it was about, even. I think he ticked every single trope of Canadian literature, and, interestingly, for a book ultimately about three men, the women characters all feel like fully realized people instead of mere wallpaper. Very satisfying.
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1 vote sageness | Feb 7, 2014 |
I have always felt that there's a connection between this book and "The Magus" by John Fowles. I guess that it's the slight impression of surrealism that pervades both. But Davies is the better writer, so far as prose styling goes. A typically Canadian story, with the POV character being very conscious of not being a principal player in the tale he sees played out. Still an interesting realistic novel, and worth the read. Quite an illustration of the Jungian Archetypes. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 17, 2014 |
This first book in a trilogy about the lives of key characters in the town of Deptford centers around the memoirs of Dunstable Ramsay. From the moment the town bully Percy Boyd (Boy) Staunton hits the preacher's wife with a snowball meant for Dunstable and causes her to go into premature labour, Dunstan's life is linked forever through guilt to Mrs. Dempster, her son Paul, and Boy Staunton. This is a tale of loss, war, lost love, a search for saints, magic, and a life destined to play the role of "Fifth Business," the advisor and the glue that defines and binds the relationships of others. ( )
  SheilaCornelisse | Dec 9, 2013 |
Fifth Business is the first installment of the Deptford Trilogy by Davies and it is the story of the life of the narrator, Dunstan Ramsay. The entire story is told in the form of a letter written by Ramsay on his retirement from teaching at Colborne College, addressed to the school Headmaster. The book's title was explained by the author as a theatrical term, a character essential to the action but not a principal actor. This is made explicit in the focus of much the action on others, including Percy Boyd 'Boy' Staunton and his wife Leola, and Mrs. Dempster and her son Paul; all of whom influence and are influenced by the life of the narrator.

Davies discusses several themes in the novel, including the difference between materialism and spirituality. He has also created a sort of bildungsroman in the narrative of Dunstable 'Dunstan' Ramsay, who lives a life dedicated to teaching (history in a boys' school) and studying the lives of saints, becoming a hagiographer of some note. Significantly, Davies, then being an avid student of Carl Jung's ideas, deploys them in Fifth Business. Characters are clear examples of Jungian archetypes and events demonstrate Jung's idea of synchronicity. The stone thrown at Ramsay when he was a child reappears decades later in a scandalous suicide or murder. This along with the impetus in Ramsay's life of three "miracles" become the mainstays of the plot line. Finally, it is all held together by Davies attention to detail, his characterization and above all his ability to tell a good story. I expect to return to finish the Deptford Trilogy sooner rather than later. ( )
1 vote jwhenderson | Apr 27, 2013 |
4.5 stars

Robertson Davies is one of my literary heroes. At a time in my youth when I had been engulfed with ‘Canadian Literature’ that was, in my humble opinion at the time at least, depressing, uninteresting, and decidedly parochial, here was a man who wrote stories with verve, humour, erudition and a view to the wider world. _Fifth Business_ is the first book of Davies’ Deptford trilogy, a series of books that centre around people from the fictional small town of Deptford, Ontario. Sounds parochial already, doesn’t it? But wait, there’s more. The main character, and narrator, of this tale is Dunstan Ramsay, a man who seems to have been destined to exist on the periphery of the life he is now looking back on. Sharp-tongued and intelligent, Ramsay has let himself fall into the role of school-teacher at an all-boy’s private school, unencumbered not only by a wife and children, but also by any truly close friends. The closest he has is Percy Boyd “Boy” Staunton, the golden boy of Deptford and frenemy of his youth. Boy is everything Ramsay is not: outgoing, active, popular and rich. Boy soon makes his mark in the wider world, parlaying the small fortune of his grasping father into the foundations of a business empire that certainly does nothing to lessen Boy’s innate pride and narcissism. Aside from their origins in a small Ontario town as part of the same generation, the two boys share something else, a link to the tragedy that occurred in the life of Mrs. Mary Dempster. On a fateful winter day, when Boy’s pride is goaded on by the shrewd antagonism of Ramsay, the then-pregnant Mrs. Dempster becomes the victim of a snowball hurled by Boy and meant for Ramsay which had a stone at its heart. This blow not only precipitates the early delivery of her son Paul, but also leads to a loss of cognitive functions that makes her, in the words of the people of Deptford, “simple”.

Forever keeping the facts secret, Ramsay is wracked by guilt over this event for the rest of his life (despite the fact that his was certainly more a sin of omission when compared to Boy’s culpability). It in fact becomes the shaping catalyst for his life and in large part determines the man he is to become. Ramsay takes upon himself the care of Mrs. Dempster (officially at the urging of his mother, who helped to deliver the woman’s son, but ultimately at the prodding of his own conscience) and she becomes for him a figure of signal importance. For Ramsay is convinced that there is something special about Mary Dempster, in fact he is certain that she is a saint. This is not only the result of his guilt, but due to the fact that Ramsay is certain that he has personally witnessed three miracles performed by her (one the resurrection of his apparently dead older brother). Ramsay becomes obsessed with saints and saintliness and his life’s work, his true passion, the study of these enigmatic figures in human history. He is not a particularly religious man, but he is not incredulous of the validity of religious experience either. This is where Davies is able to bring in one of his own favourite obsessions: Jungian archetypes and the mythical significance of history. The lens through which Ramsay sees the world is coloured by this interpretation and it is a fascinating one that informs all of Davies’ other books.

Dunstan Ramsay is an excellent narrator and his voice is pitch-perfect. He seems to contain the perfect balance of incisive observation with a somewhat deprecating self-awareness…though of course we probably shouldn’t take everything he says as gospel. Through Ramsay’s eyes we view the petty concerns and grotesqueries of small town life, things that, while petty (or perhaps *because* they are petty), are more than powerful enough to destroy a human life; we share in some of the horrors of the First World War as well as the ennobling elements of life that can overcome such things; and we witness the ways in which, sometimes unbeknownst to us, our lives are intertwined with those of everyone we meet, no matter how disconnected and solitary we think we are.

_Fifth Business_ isn’t my favourite book by Davies, but it’s a very good one and is an excellent introduction to the kind of writing you’ll experience if you choose to try him out. Not only was Davies a learned man, able to convey his learning in his books without sounding like a school-teacher or a man with a mission to convert (even though he was, perhaps, both things), but he was also a very accomplished writer:
I know flattery when I hear it; but I do not often hear it. Furthermore, there is good flattery and bad; this was from the best cask. And what sort of woman was this who knew so odd a word as “hagiographer” in a language not her own? Nobody who was not a Bollandist had ever called me that before, yet it was a title I would not have exchanged to be called Lord of the Isles. Delightful prose! I must know more of this.
Delightful prose indeed. Davies’ novels seem to flow effortlessly, partly due to the charming and fluid voice he attains in them, and partly, I think, through his clever weaving of myth and symbol throughout what is, on the surface, a rather mundane plot. Ramsay’s life, especially in his eventually acknowledged role of “Fifth Business”, is not one that is full of monumental events or unexpected novelty, but it is a human life and one which Davies puts into the greater context not only of the lives that all of us lead, but of the mythic symbols and higher meanings that we look to in order to find greater significance in what we do and who we are.
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1 vote dulac3 | Apr 2, 2013 |
Recommended to me by a very nice librarian with a wild mustache when I said I was looking for something sort of like Margaret Atwood. He also compared it to John Irving, which I think is incredibly apt.

Very very good, with an incredibly disturbing and wonderful ending (that echoes the beginning). The characters are fascinating but also have weight and don't just feel merely quirky or symbolic - it succeeds at the important double job of being artistically complex and being a good story.

It's about agency, roles, and using symbolism and narrative to interpret life, among other things.

It also has charming pages-long monologues in the manner of Brothers Karamazov and gets away with it.

Such a complex little story that it would be worth rereading! I hadn't ever heard of the author but I will have to read more by him. ( )
1 vote raschneid | Mar 31, 2013 |
For some reason this is the first book I've ever read by the great Robertson Davies. This is a travesty since I love Canadian literature, and Mr. Davies is an icon in that select group. This book is the first in the Deptford Trilogy and it was given to me as a gift. I am sure that the giver knew that it would start me on a totally different reading tack with an author that I should have been familiar with by now. My thanks go to the gift giver for finally bringing this extremely talented author to my attention. The storyline in this book begins with a throw of a stone, cunningly concealed in a snowball. This stone, literally and figuratively, sets this novel in motion. The book is about growing up in a small Canadian town near the beginning of the 19 century, and the values that this instilled in children, and about lessons learned, decisions made and consequences inevitably experienced. It takes us through to the trenches of the First World War. We follow young Dunstable Ramsay through the war and through catastrophic injuries that he suffers during this war. We watch him as he grows up (as he was only 16 when he enlisted). We see him forging ahead after he gets back home after recovering from his injuries. He is sporting a Victoria Cross on his chest with no real idea of how he got this amazing honour. Dunstable goes to school and then becomes an educator in an exclusive boys school. But he does so much more than that with his life. The people we meet through him and the places he visits are so well depicted in this book. This is a very powerful novel, and one that left me shaking my head in wonder as I read about Dunstable and his quite startling life. Robertson Davies knew what he was about. He has the skill of a master novelist and a sense of humour that keeps rising irrepressibly out of the pages of his books. ( )
1 vote Romonko | Feb 28, 2013 |
With a dramatist's flair and a character actor's twinkle, Robertson Davies helps us to understand the human condition, and for me that condition is entirely hopeful. The latest rereading of Fifth Business, his finest work, reveals new insights into Davies's use of humor and irony, myth and reality, and of life's many opposing forces. Astute first-time readers may have understood these elements, but it has taken several readings for me to appreciate them.

As the narrator, eccentric professor and seeker of saints Dunstan Ramsay shows a childlike awe for his predecessors and a flinty parental attitude toward his progeny. With no children of his own, he writes of simple saints as if they were his own great-grandparents, and he creates a saintly mythology for his surrogate prodigal son, Magnus Eisengrim.

Fifth Business is a book that encourages re-reading. Davies's tale is quietly interesting, lulling many a reader into the comfortable surroundings of rural and urban Canada; then energizing the story with unexpected and worldly turns. He brings a young man's innocence into the fearsome realities of World War II, a cynic's grit to the illusions of traveling shows and magic, and a searcher's dedication to the conflicting stories of religion and saints. The characters are marvelous and the ending is just right, sending the reader out looking for the remaining excellent books of his Deptford Trilogy, The Manticore and World of Wonders

Fifth Business is an extraordinary book, written by a wise, good-humored and clear-eyed master of language. ( )
  dmacsfo | Feb 12, 2013 |
In Robertson Davies book, The Fifth Business, the author is trying to something unorthodox. What if the main character of a book is not the hero (as Dickens’ David Copperfield would ponder), but an extraneous character. Not an insignificant one, but a catalyst to action?

Dunstan Ramsey grows up in the small Canadian town of Deptsford. The narrative, by Dustan, is written after he has retired as a teacher from a local school, upset by his characterization as someone ordinary. We follow his story from boyhood, to World War I hero (where he is a hero, but is left maimed), to a teacher at a local school. As a boy, a fight with Percy Staunton (later known as Boy Staunton) ends with a rock snowball hitting the pregnant wife of the local Baptist minister. This incident results in a premature labor, the wife, Mary Dempster, to become “simple-minded”, and unleash a life-long guilt over the incident for Dunstan. Dunstan becomes obsessed with Mary, who he claims is his fool-saint when she later commits three miracles. The result is catastrophic for all characters involved (Mary, Dunston, Percy, and new-born Paul), who reconnect at the end of the book in a mysterious way.

I felt the beginning and the end of this story to be very compelling, but the middle-part seemed to drag on. I also found the concept of the Fifth Business a bit tedious. Dunstan lives an unremarkable life after his service ends in World War I. Is this character to really spend most of his life in the most unremarkable way only to serve as a catalyst at the very end of the story? It did have great parts about myth-making and personal mythologies, but overall it made for a bit of a dull read. I was a bit disappointed as I had been looking forward to reading this for some time.

Favorite Passages:
"He was one of those people who seem fated to be hurt and thrown aside in life, but doubtless as he knelt by Mary's bed, he thought himself as important an actor in the drama as any of the others. This is one of the cruelties of the theatre of life; we all think of ourselves as stars and rarely recognize it when we are indeed mere supporting characters or even supernumeraries." p. 13

"Life itself is too great a miracle for us to make so much fuss about potty little reversals of what we pompously assume to be the natural order." p. 162

"My own idea is that when He comes again it will be to continue his ministry as an old man. I am an old man and my life has been spent as a solider of Christ, and I tell you that the older I grow the less Christ's teaching says to me... Everybody wants a Christ for himself an those who think like him... All Christ's teaching is put forward with the dogmatism, the certainty, and the strength of youth: I need something that takes account of the accretion of experience, the sense of paradox and the ambiguity that comes with years!" p. 163

"That is your privilege, you pseudo-cynical old pussy-cat, watching life from the sidelines and knowing where all the players go wrong. Life is a spectator sport to you. Now you have taken a tumble and found yourself in the middle of the fight, and you are whimpering because it is rough." p. 208

"Whom the Gods hate they keep forever young." p. 228

"One always learns one's mystery at the price of one's innocence." p. 245 ( )
1 vote shadowofthewind | Aug 28, 2012 |
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