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The first book of Robertson Davies's Deptford Trilogy tells the story of three men destined to be crucial players in each others' lives. The story is, in fact, the memoir of Dunstan Ramsay, a long-time boarding-school teacher, set to retire. Written to the headmaster of the school, the memoir intends to disprove the common belief that Ramsay is nothing more than a senile old professor, "doddering into retirement with tears in his eyes and a drop hanging from his nose." The story includes two other main characters, the outcast and eventual circus performer Paul Dempster and socialite Boy Staunton, with his "too glossy perfection."
The story of Ramsay's life begins when he is 10 years old, living in a small Canadian town called Deptford. A snowball thrown by Boy Staunton, intended for Ramsay, hits the pregnant mother of Paul Dempster, forcing her into labour early. She gives birth to a premature and deformed Paul. Ramsay feels responsible for this, and thus begins his guilty friendship with Paul, as well as his grudging friendship with Boy. Eventually, Dunstan Ramsay goes off to fight in the First World War, where he earns a Victoria Cross. He later travels throughout Europe and Mexico to pursue his interest in saints and write several books about them. He even attempts to prove that Paul's mother, whom he had taken a liking to over the years, is in fact a saint. Paul and Boy keep crossing paths with Dunstan, for good and ill, for the rest of his life. This fascinating, absorbing classic of Canadian literature is punctuated with elements of the comic, the supernatural, and the magical (even touching on the occult), while the writing itself is always elegant and at times exquisite. --Mark Frutkin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
One of the splendid literary enterprises of this decade. -- Peter Prescott, Newsweek --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
Was not hardcover like the description said. The reason why I bought this book was for the hardcover.
The book smells very bad.
Fifth Business is a great installment in the genre of magic realism with a twist of comedy and paradox. Read morePublished on April 12 2012 by Joe Public
I might LOVE the book now - though I doubt I'll return to it. But I read this book in the mid-90s when I was a young man in my 20s and I found the book to be rather long, slow. Read morePublished on Jan. 14 2012 by David Sabine
This is considered one of the greatest books in Canadian literature. I think it is the best. The striking thing about this book is it is both traditional and modern. Read morePublished on Sept. 29 2011 by L. Tampacopoulos
Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy is a strange, slightly magical trio of fictional biographies, all of which originate in the small Canadian town of Deptford. Read morePublished on April 30 2011 by EA Solinas
It has been a few years since I have read Fifth Business along with the Manticore and World of Wonders and it remains the best trilogy I have ever read. Read morePublished on June 29 2010 by 1969
Just a short correction...title is 'Fifth Business', not 'The Fifth Business', and author is Robertson Davies, not M.G. Vassanji as Amazon has it on their best book site. Read morePublished on Jan. 5 2008 by dfra
As others have already mentioned, this novel is top notch. I read it as part of my high-school courseware, and it's the only novel I re-read regularly.Published on Aug. 1 2007 by SuzieC