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Muy decepcionante Desde que Davies gan el premio Llibreter en 2006 que pensaba en hincarle el diente a alguna de sus novelas y esperaba algo Davies esboza un libro acerca de adultos cultos que se portan como personajes de Deads poets society son bastante inmaduros, el sexo les resulta azaroso, son torpes y t midos en el amor, curiosamente ninguno tiene relaciones sentimentales con nadie, pillan rabietas parece mentira que sean creaciones ideadas por un se or de casi 70 a os Parecen mentira La gracia de la buena ficci n es que sin que deje de ser una mentira, nos parezca lo contrario, que aluda a cierta verdad Para m Davies no lo logra Sus medios para destrozar el casco de su propia nave son unos di logos acartonados y literarios, una visi n del mundo anacr nica y una capacidad imaginativa tan limitada que la mitad de la novela son cenas y la otra funerales No son esos enga os para un buen art fice.El centro de la novela es un personaje femenino que a pesar de estar escribiendo un doctorado vive colgada de las faldas de su madre, no hay cap tulo que no la nombre, se sonroja con facilidad, puede acabar llorando si le cantan canciones burlonas y su conflicto con sus ra ces gitanas est exagerado hasta el absurdo Eso s , puede mantener conversaciones pedantes como sus compa eros y como hipoteticamente tiene un f sico muy vistoso entonces se convierte en el centro de las vidas de unos pobres se ores muy tristes y aburridos sa me parece una forma muy pobre de caracterizar un personaje dram ticamente tan esencial.Esperaba algo y lo que he encontrado es igual a nada A lo sumo, una buena base culta que sirve de decorado de cart n para una farsa amateur Pero eso es algo que tambi n se puede hallar en un diccionario escolar y no por eso se convierte en una obra literaria Si alguien quiere leer una novela con elementos similares aunque manejados por una mente creativa y sensible recomiendo que lea Pobres criaturas , de Alasdair Gray, escritor mil veces m s dotado que ese pobre diablo reaccionario llamado Davies. What makes a book a novel so good that it is nourishing That s how Robertson Davies strikes me.This one is the first book of The Cornish Trilogy, which I read before, about 25 years ago I didn t remember much of this one, just a vague feeling of familiarity like a dream you think you ve dreamed before.The story is told by two characters, a beautiful, exotic and brilliant twenty something graduate student and a forty five year old Anglican priest turned professor All the chapters told by the young woman, Maria who has scholarly aspirations , are numbered episodes of Second Paradise II, in a reference to Paracelsus, who, we read, said, The striving for wisdom is the second paradise of the world The chapters narrated by the priest, Darcourt, are all numbered versions of The New Aubrey II, an arcane reference to Aubrey s Brief Lives The Elizabethans a reportedly irreverent collection since Darcourt sees himself as engaged in such an endeavor regarding his academic colleagues although, as he says, he ends up talkingabout himself.Speaking of irreverent, the setting is a modern Canadian college of the late 70s or early 80s called St John and the Holy Spirit, or Spook, its nickname Further irreverence ensues That alone isn t the nourishing aspect, although it helps Objets d art are involved There s reference to using esoteric knowledge from the past to inform the present The term gnostic rears its head, but in a good way not as heresy or in the sense of conservative disapproval of modernity , the feminine principle, for example Or in its original sense of knowledge knowledge that has been disallowed, maybe, but knowledge just the same We get to hear the people talk about themselves and their interactions with other people We hear about their feelings, thoughts, and reactions The people seem real, so we get to share their feelings, learn with them, and be amazed at how erudite they are or, in some of their cases, how capable of fooling themselves What makes the book so good is that their words and behavior come across real My gut clenches when I hear something phony but no worries here as Robertson Davies is maximally digestible There s a plot, too, and things do happen, but the plot serves the characters, if that s a fair observation No jerking the people around for the sake of some artificial outcome I m not sure whether saying what the title means would spoil the fun or not view spoiler Rebel angels refers to Prometheus figures Funny, but I was just reading Stephen Greenblatt s The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, and he also refers to such figures, contrasting them with orthodoxy hide spoiler ,, 33 , , , , , , , , , , ,, 3 La Bas , 5 5 . Qu bueno es Robertson Davies Lo descubr por medio de la Trilog a de Deptford, menci n especial para el primer libro perteneciente a la misma, El quinto en discordia , y he de decir que es un escritor absolutamente delicioso Mientras le a ngeles rebeldes , no dejaba de pensar en llamar a todos mis conocidos para leerles alg n fragmento memorable, por su humor y por su inteligencia Y es que este libro, y la obra de Davies en general, se caracteriza por la variedad de temas que trata, siempre desde un punto de vista erudito pero ni pesado ni farragoso de leer.Si tuviese que escoger dos palabras para definir ngeles rebeldes , ser an humor y erudici n La novela est impregnada de humor, es inevitable re rse con algunas escenas Me record la obra de David Lodge, tanto por las situaciones humor sticas como por donde transcurren, que es el ambiente universitario y todo lo que conlleva En cuanto a la erudici n, Davies est versado en muchas materias, desde la alquimia, a la vida acad mica, pasando por las tradiciones gitanas y el medievalismo Pero todo est tan bien insertado en la trama, que lees el libro de manera compulsiva ngeles rebeldes es tambi n el primer libro de la llamada Trilog a de Cornish, formada tambi n por Lo que arraiga en el hueso y La lira de Orfeo , aunque pueden ser le das de manera independiente ngeles rebeldes comienza con el regreso a la Universidad de San Juan y el Esp ritu Santo, llamada por algunos La Entelequ a, de Parlabane, un ser malvado para muchos La vida en la Universidad se ve alterada tanto por este retorno como por el legado que recibe del difunto Francis Cornish, coleccionista y mecenas de artistas, a cuyo cargo y revisi n quedan los profesores Dancourt, Hollier y McVarish Todo se complica con el descubrimiento de un manuscrito in dito de Rabelais La historia esta narrada desde dos puntos de vista, el del padre Dancourt y el de la estudiante Maria, que se ver atrapada enmedio de estos ngeles rebeldes.No puedo decir nada m s, nicamente pasen y disfruten. Robertson Davies is probably the greatest writer Canada has ever produced Not that Canadian literature is all that great, but even overshadowing the likes of Atwood and Munro is still a pretty remarkable achievement He writes about things that should be really boring in a way that s somehow really interesting Like the drama of Renaissance professors and graduate students Does that get your heart racing No Well what if I told you it s all interspersed with Gypsy mysticism and Rabelaisian allusion It s gripping stuff, I assure you.The book is tightly plotted and moves fast and is full of lovably quirky characters They re not exactly believable characters, and the ending leaves something to be desired, but in the face of the sheer pleasure I ve got out of reading this book I m willing to overlook that Davies uses some sort of literary hocus pocus to fill his books with some sort of joyous energy It s densely written without being tedious it s intellectual while never taking itself too seriously it s just great. I love reading about the academic life I have never been in academics yet I ve also not been a researcher and I could read endlessly on a person dedicating their life to the study of a specific subject within the walls of a library, their live s enfolded in cluttered stacks of paper and tilted piles of books If I m going to get truly confessional here I admit to a desire to read about someone reading even without me knowing what it is they read Seeing the act of reading for me is enjoyment.Wanting a break I thought a fun book on academia would be this first of the Cornish Trilogy by Mr Davies Living in the U.S I have come to be satisfied with getting what I pay for but not surprised if I receive less It amazes me what when younger I went into battle about now I let pass What I am not accustomed to is being handedWhat do I do Should I send additional money to the author and publisher Read fewer pages The novel is a wonderful romp through academic college life written by an author who spent a good part of his life in academia He knows the twists and turns, the absurdities and hypocrisies, the characters, and those truly dedicated to their life of study The freebies which I may still receive a bill for in the mail is an honest accounting of love, obsession, the various and raucous folds of ambition, qualities of friendship, the nature of scholarly pursuit, and the big one the philosophy of identity While frolicking along in my break in academia the author showed better than any philosophical treatise the answer to, what is our journey, what is it we seek It is woven into the story He is an excellent thinker and an excellent writer His fascinating characters reveal without any pomp and circumstance they will either set out and to differing degrees discover who they are even if it doesn t coincide with their life circumstances or desires, and have the guts and audacity to live that life, or will conjure up images of themselves resulting in the fevered maladies when sacrificing authenticity Much needs to be spent on obtaining bevelled, warped mirrors to locate the reflection of themselves most needed to gain the glistened trophies handed out with indifference by the administrators of society in the great halls and decked rooms marked life.The great magic of this book is that it is written in a high style of prose providing the right amount of distance of the authorial camera for us to view through while Mr Davies himself stands by the open door of the novel, dressed proper in a suit and tie, impeccable manners, a wise noble smile, placing a hand beneath our arm while gently leading us into the story He makes us comfortable and sets us at ease He acts as if he hasn t done anything when by doing so, later we understand what magic has been performed.I recommend this book to anyone and everyone It is urbane, cosmopolitan, insightful, sad, funny, witty, knowledgeable, a pleasure to read Why not 5 stars My original drop of a star was the hope I could slide by and not be charged for the multiple freebies That not working I was set out to write a humble but brilliant section on how the characters were not well rounded enough Then, just before posting I realized that was what the book, duh, was about This part quickly deleted before public embarrassment was tagged onto the bill, the real reason arose If just for the enjoyment of reading, and by itself, this is a 5 star book However, I finished it then started Virginia Woolf s, The Waves, which for me so far may very well be the most important book I have read So, unfair as it may be, to give any book right now the same rating I will be giving The Waves seems impossible Let s say then that Rebel Angels is a strong 4 and if read at another time would have been a 5. It s humbling I suppose I need it to be introduced to wonderful writers I ought to have known about years nay, decades ago So I ve been chastened once again by following a tip, again from that Canadian son in law I ve mentioned before, that I might like a certain author of Canadian renown named Robertson Davies Why I haven t run across this prolific storyteller of great intellect and wit before must be a matter of my earwax or some kind of American literary snobbery The man is a first rate writer, that rare combination of aesthetic and entertainer I plucked The Rebel Angels off the library shelf at random, and lucky me it turns out to be the first in one of the Monty Wooly lookalike author s several trilogies I ll certainly go on to the other two of the threesome in The Cornish Trilogy, What s Bred in the Bone, and The Lyre of Orpheus So what s so good about him First of all, he s produced a novel set in academia that is neither pretentious nor supercilious I tend to shy away from these things because they often become self parodies The writer so wallows in his characters academic affections that said affectations reveal themselves as belonging as much to the author as to his creations Not so Davies Among the main characters are several learned and established academicians, and their research provides important grist for the action mill Discussions of the likes of Rabelais and Paracelsus play important parts in relationships, and numerous conversations include generous helpings of Latin Indeed, a bit of research I m not willing to spend the time would undoubtedly yield amusing insights into both character and action However, amid all this scholarly give and take which Davies manages to make engaging even when the reader is not quite sure what people are talking about there appears an enormous amount of shit Literally Davies uses excrement as an emblematic source of creativity and spirit as well as of corruption It s also a source of delicious so to speak satire One professor nickname, turd skinner receives a high prizes for research on faeces, research which no one understands, which has yielded no discernible results nor is expected to Prized violins are cured in beds of horse manure All this earthiness is completely appropriate to the Rabelaisian dimension of the work but it s perhaps unprecedented in a university set novel I m reminded of a couple of images from probably my favorite poet W.B Yeats is notedfor his ethereal imagery than for for his earthiness, but that s the fault of his squeamish readers, not his Try these lines from I believe Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop Love has pitched his mansion In the place of excrement Nothing can be whole or sole That has not been rent.Or this entire poem called A Stick of Incense From whence did all this fury come From empty tomb or virgin womb St Joseph thought the world would melt, But liked the way his finger smelt Just so are universities as replete with the down and dirty as all other institutions of human enterprise Yes, and as full of superstition as well The Rebel Angels has magic at the center of it Gypsies, Tarot cards, spells, curses and the power of menstrual blood move the action every bit as much as scholarship and intellect The grotesque image on the cover art is from the Tarot and is entirely appropriate to the feel of this novel, which pays homage to the entirety of the human comedy, it s pain and savagery, as well as to its superficial wit Honor not only your crown but your root If you care to know what that little quote means, read The Rebel Angels And, for no particular reason, I leave you with Rabelais s will I owe much, have nothing, the rest goes to charity. The first part of the Cornish Trilogy Alternating between two narrators Maria, a half gypsy graduate student in love with her mentor and a Simon, a priest who teaches at the University and falls for her the book tells a complex story of love, lust, art, pride, scholarship, academic rivalry and criminal actions John Parlabane, a defrocked gay monk and sort of evil genius, stirs up the brew with his sharp eyes and tongue, yet somehow it tuns out right for the characters whom the reader sympathizes with At times I felt there may have been a bit too much academic talk, but the book is after all set at a University, and Davies is very, very good at it As he is with dialogue, depth of characterization and humor A fascinating tale, told in expert fashion, in short. 4 4.5 starsSome books are comfort reads They are old friends whose familiarity provides us with a sense of stability and well being, and they fit like a glove to the intellectual, emotional, and purely personal elements of our psyche Sometimes this is because we came to them in formative years when their mode and message could be deeply impressed on us, sometimes it is because they simply express aspects of our nature that we ourselves may not be fully aware of, but to which they harmonize completely The books of Robertson Davies are these kinds of books for me I did come at them at a young age, but they also showed to me a world, and way of looking at the world, that I found utterly appealing and deeply satisfying.Like all of his books The Rebel Angels is a book about art, about the intellect, and about secrets both personal and professional It is populated by the kind of characters that Davies knew so well and whose portraits he painted unerringly if on occasion a little too neatly they are intellectual elites, connoisseurs of art and artistry, but they are also unique, often bizarre, individuals whose quirks and manias may be the result of heredity, upbringing, or a judicious combination of both Having said this I would have to admit that perhaps the only reservation I have is in the range of these characters They are certainly unique, quirky and individual, but they do seem to generally be cut from the same cloth Davies himself was a true old school Upper Canadian though indeed one with a decidedly forward looking bent conversant with the rituals and mode of the intellectual and social elites and this is very much the place where his characters live Trying to go outside of this range is something he doesn t seem to have been very interested in, and this was probably for the best My only qualm with any of his characters is actually with Maria in this trilogy I m not sure how successful I think he was in embodying a feminine voice in her and often wonder what women who have read the series think of her I don t exactly find her unbelievable, but I sometimes wonder if some of the things she says and does wouldn t sitcomfortably with one of Davies other, male, characters For me perhaps the most alluring feature of this book is the fact that it centres on the life of a University indeed, of the university which I not only attended but where I now work and whose buildings, halls, and most importantly odd individuals are only thinly disguised It stands to reason, then, that this book holds a unique place in my heart In some ways this book is an academic satire, showing us the strange rituals, obsessions, and quirks that are unique to the world of academe We are primarily concerned with the perhaps parochial world of a small college within a larger University, the College of St John and the Holy Ghost orcolloquially Spook and are immediately thrust into the midst of the action as the whispered refrain Parlabane is back echoes throughout the halls Everyone loves some good gossip and academics are no less a party to this than anyone else It appears as though John Parlabane, one of the college s former stars in the intellectual firmament now disgraced much to all of his contemporaries delight , has returned to the alma mater as a defrocked monk in the hopes of clawing his way back up, and perhaps stirring the pot of scandal and intrigue In the midst of this is Maria Magdalena Theotoky, a promising graduate student who has the misfortune not only of being the research assistant of one of Parlabane s old friends , but of being in love with him Said scholar, Clemence Hollier an ornament to the university , is pursuing his research interests with single minded assurance that is broken by only two things his role as co executor to the vast estate of the recently deceased millionaire and art collector Francis Cornish, and his nagging remembrance of an indiscretion the year before with his beautiful and intelligent RA on his decrepit office couch Finally we have Professor the Reverend Simon Darcourt, scholar in New Testament Greek, lover of homely comforts, and also both an executor of Cornish s will and newly smitten teacher of the lovely Miss Theotoky From here Davies takes us into the tangled world of academe, which iscutthroat than outsiders might believe The narrative is first person, split between segments narrated by Maria and Darcourt respectively, each of whom view the culmination of events that grow around the death of Cornish and arrival of Parlabane from parallel tracks There is intellectual intrigue and thievery, bizarre research interests, passive aggressive bullying, and a most interesting view into the household of a gypsy family of means who straddle the old world and the new, the criminal and the respectable As is to be expected of Davies his Jungian interests come out in a few ways First, and most importantly, each of the characters wrestles with what Parlabane calls their root and crown the tension that exists between the chthonic forces of our heredity deeply buried psychological foundations and the outward face we present to the world bound up in ourconscious needs desires In addition the tarot and other mystical and mythological aspects of art and scholarship flow in and out of the characters lives proving themselves to bereal and applicable than they would ever have previously given them credit for Sometimes this is manifested in a benign revelatory way, sometimes through fear and premonition, but always enlightening them about themselves and the world All in all this is a great start to a great trilogy Highly recommended.Also posted at Shelf Inflicted `Download ⇩ The Rebel Angels ↞ Defrocked Monks, Mad Professors, And Wealthy Eccentrics A Remarkable Cast Peoples Robertson Davies Brilliant Spectacle Of Theft, Perjury, Murder, Scholarship, And Love At A Modern University Only Mr Davies, Author Of Fifth Business, The Manticore, And World Of Wonders, Could Have Woven Together Their Destinies With Such Wit, Humour And Wisdom