Robertson Davies always wanted to call a book of his "The Merry Heart." Now the wish is fulfilled, and fittingly by a selection of his writings, vintage Davies, full of the shrewd relish for life that was his hallmark. Although we shall not see another Davies novel, we can all rejoice that there is another new book that is pure distilled Davies. His utterly distinctive voice resounds here from every line. As close to an autobiography as we can ever expect, this collection of reminiscences, speeches, book reviews, parodies, and essays tells us much about the writer and the man. The introductions to each of the twenty-four chapters add further biographical details, followed by tantalizing fragments from Davies' own unpublished diary. But the strength of the book lies in its stimulating contents. Every chapter is an education for the reader, as it provides the pleasure of browsing through Davies' richly stocked mind. Whether he is discussing art fakery, his schooldays, the differences between Canadians and Americans, Thackeray, Ibsen, "The Little Red Hen," or "Ulysses," this collection gathers his reflections on books, on writing, on reading, on his own writing, on other authors and much else, into a fascinating whole.
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Robertson Davies (1913-1995) had three successive careers during the time he became an internationally acclaimed author: actor, publisher, and, finally, professor at the University of Toronto. The author of twelve novels and several volumes of essays and plays, he was the first Canadian to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
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