Completing the survey begun in Lams’
Cornish Trilogy volume,
Aspects of Robertson Davies’ Novels discusses the Salterton and Deptford trilogies along with Davies’ last two novels,
Murther & Walking Spirits and
The Cunning Man. The apprentice effort
Tempest-Tost and the journeyman’s success
Leaven of Malice were followed by Davies’ first genuinely fine novel,
A Mixture of Frailties, the story of a talented Salterton girl who becomes a world-famous soprano. The Deptford trilogy is discussed in terms of Northrop Frye’s «confession» form as it appears in
Fifth Business, and in variations of that form in
The Manticore and
World of Wonders. Although Davies’ Jungian enthusiasms produced certain flaws to which readers have objected,
Murther & Walking Spirits is by no means a failure; it is best understood as an implicit spiritual history of Canada which is adumbrated in the generational experience of a single Canadian family.
The Cunning Man concludes Davies’ career with a narrative as rewardingly complex as any of the Cornish trilogy novels.