Murther and Walking Spirits

Today, head over to Buried in Print for a consideration of Robertson Davies’s second-to-last finished novel, Murther and Walking Spirits — one that draws on his own family history in a remarkable way. It’s not a spoiler to tell you that the main character dies (this happens in the first sentence) but beyond that we’re going to try not to give too much else away.

A couple of quotations to entice you:

“Thanks to Davies’ wealth of experience as a voracious reader and critical thinker, his stories are filled with brief excerpts from poems and narrative texts and a plethora of allusions. Even with a search engine at my side, I must be missing references, as there are echoes and homages – in names, word choice, syntax – peppering every page of his prose.
But if that’s all there was to it, his readership would be limited: he also tells a great story. In one moment, you are thinking about reaching for your dictionary — “Who are these tatterdemalions who have opened his gate and are coming toward him?” — but, in the next, you are too concerned with who they are to figure out precisely what they are (and the context is almost as good as a dictionary).”

“If you are looking for a dark-but-not-spooky story to curl up with on dark autumn evenings, Murther & Walking Spirits would be a fine choice.”

So please, click on the link to find out more about the ways in which this novel fits with Robertson Davies’s oeuvre: “His use of allusions, his quiet wit, his interest in manners and social relationships, his dependence on archetypes, and, most of all, his ability to tell a good story.”

This has been our last scheduled contribution to Robertson Davies Reading Week. I’ve had a blast, and I hope you have too! Tomorrow, a look back and a gathering of other posts that have appeared — be sure to mention yours in the comments, or use #ReadingRobertsonDavies on Twitter, so it can be included.

2 thoughts on “Murther and Walking Spirits

  1. An excellent overview of RD’s last novel from BuriedinPrint (where I’ve added a comment rather than here) in which quotes from an interview and comments from BiP demonstrate that the expected wit, humour, bookishness and foibles are all still in evidence.

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    1. Thanks for commenting in both places, Chris. It’s been a pleasure getting to know some other Davies’ readers over the course of this week. I look forward to more bookchat with all of you.

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