Reading Robertson (Davies)

The following is a diptych (hey, what did you call me?) I created for a photography project in my university days. It contains one of my all-time favorite literary quotes:

The author is Robertson Davies, a man whose work was introduced to me through my university studies. I discovered the aforementioned quote in Fifth Business and enjoyed that book so much I bought as many of his other works as I could find.

While all of the books I bought were purchased new, today at the Sally Anne I found a used hardcover copy of The Cunning Man for a grand total of $1. I felt like that woman in the Ikea ad: “Start the car!”

I thought, “is this really the right price? Do they even know what they have here?!” Imagine, finding a book of actual substance and literary merit amongst the ubiquitous Danielle Steele and other generic books of varying mediocrity. Surprisingly, I’ve actually found a lot of interesting books in second-hand stores, but this one takes the proverbial cake.

What really makes this find significant is that I just happen to be reading through my Robertson Davies collection at the moment. I recently bought The Cornish Trilogy, which I’m sure I used to own but lost. I’m nearly finished his second set, The Deptford Trilogy, so this was quite a fortunate and timely find for me. Once I saw this unsuspecting book sitting there, a diamond in the rough and a hard cover at that, I knew I had to have it.

The only drawback right now is that I was planning on reading the trilogies in order, so this:

Will have to wait until I’m finished The Cornish Trilogy, which is over 1,000 pages long. I’m currently reading at a pace of 25 pages per day, so it’s going to be more than a month before I can get around to the latest book in my collection.

At least I know it’s here and it’s not going anywhere. This was an investment in the future, a purchase made for posterity’s sake. This is one of the books I’ve been wanting and have never read. I’ve read the three trilogies before but the last time was a number of years ago. Reading through them now I’m remembering pieces here and there, but I’ve forgotten a lot of it.

This latest book, however, was the last one that Davies wrote and I’m completely unacquainted with it. While it’s unrelated, from what I understand, to the Deptford Trilogy, it does involve one of its major characters. Though I get the impression this character plays a minor role, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.

By securing this latest book and others like it for a dollar or less, I think I’ve proven myself to be, undoubtedly, a cunning man.

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