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The Rebel Angels Paperback – Mar 31 1983


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (March 31 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140061762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140061765
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 222 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,017,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mao PIng-pong on Nov. 28 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
About a quarter of way into the reading, I was reminded of Canada's other famous funny man, Saul Bellow, especially Humboldt's Gift. As I delved deeper, I saw a definitive difference: Bellow was more exuberant, and Davies wiser, more a deadpan. Just an aside, not meant as a comparative analysis.
As I read, I was swept off the floor by Davies's erudition and insight. While I understood that the disciplines described in the book were his own field of academic study, and I should not feel too badly for myself if I didn't know much about Mediavel culture, Rabelais, and Gypsy lores, however, the way Mr. Davies pulled them together is nothing short of magic. Regardless of your knowledge and scholarship, to make medieval stuff fun and funny is no small talent. Even for those who do not share Davies's sense of humor will not come out empty-handed, as the tidbits of knowledge and myth can sure serve one well in cocktail conversations. This is the positive, treasure box side.
Now the complaint. Despite the acclaim that the novel is a ground-breaking depiction of the ivory tower of academic pursuit, Mr. Davies failed to give a true, or truly inspired account in this regard. The characters are, by and large, two-dimensional caricatures, and in the case of female protagonists (Maria/Mamusia), not even fully a one-dimensional line. While Mr. Davies was unquestionably talented in seeing and playing off Academic Man's eccentricities and neurocism, he was not as good in injecting him with the proper counter dose of humanity, to make him truly three dimensional. Simon Darcourt is the best of the ilk, but even he does not compare in vivacity and believability to similar characters (e.g. Humboldt of the aforementioned Bellow). I find the carricaturization a severe flaw.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Rebel Angels immediately entered my personal canon of favorite works of literature. Could it be the perfect novel? It features astounding characters, well defined and memorable (especially the unforgettable John Parlabane, almost as singular a character as Liesl in Davies' Deptford Trilogy). It features a page turning plot. I was initially hoping for a literary mystery, along the lines of Eco, when the "lost manuscript" is introduced. The plot doesn't exactly lead that way, but creates its own twists and turns, both comic and tragic.
Davies' fine novel is an erudite display of knowledge, philosophy, emotion. There are no blacks and whites, nor even shades of grey. Each character is peppered alternately both black and white...each an incredibly real person encompassing friendship and selfishness, good and evil.
This is the kind of novel you feel better for having read. It impressed me on each page; a great work of literature as well as a very enjoyable read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Rebel Angels starts off Robertson Davies's Cornish Trilogy by introducing us to a cast of characters and a mood that are the raw material of the collection of related stories. Davies is an author who utilizes a palette of archetypes, applying them again and again in successive snippets and passages. This first book of the trilogy serves as a kind of under-painting for the books that follow. It sets the stage and lays a foundation. But, like all under-painting, it is incomplete in itself. It needs the detail that comes from what follows. In a sense, then, this book is not truly complete apart from the other components of the trilogy. But, that said, in no way should the reader be dissuaded from reading this novel, for the rewards are deeper than the limitations.
Davies gives the reader a rich feast of characters and experiences, heightened and exaggerated, but never untrue. His pages welcome us into reflection upon the common chords of life found mirrored back to us by somewhat uncommon people in somewhat unusual places. A few of the characters stand out. Parlabane, for instance, gives us an annoying villain who is both disturbing and likable. Sometimes the tidy fence between goodness and evil seems to melt away in this story, leaving the reader a bit unsettled by the dark shadows within him or herself. This is, however, merely a minor - not too jarring - revelation of what we attempt to hide from ourselves. Robertson Davies gives us, in The Rebel Angels, an uncommon window upon the common human experience. If you are like me, you will find that you remember less of the details of this book than you feel that you have been reminded of the characters and experiences of your own life that sometimes too easily pass from notice.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In a tranquil Canadian University a voice spreads: Parlabane is back! Cave!Cave!, Molesworth would say. Cerebral and celebrate scholars, fascinating student girls, modern-style mecenates and unconventional researchers will soon find their lives upset by the most Rebel of the Rebel Angels. A disgraced teacher,Parlabane is philosophically contradictory, insolent, taking everyone for a ride in his absolutely anarchic world, and is the pivotal personnage of this wonderful novel. His ex-colleagues are also involved in the inventory of an inherited literary and artistic treasure, from which an important Rabelais' manuscript is missing.A literary puzzle that will be solved in a very bizarre manner.
All is wonderful in this novel: the irony, the depiction of the
academic world, the charachters beautifully detailed like Beerbohm caricatures, the great arcane erudition of Robertson Davies, and a marvelous story whose unpredictable end is absolutely unique. A gem of a book, whit an exquisitely arcane flavor
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