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.


    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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