Fifth Business

Robertson Davies

Fifth Business

Robertson Davies' best-known novel introduces readers to Dunstan Ramsay, a history teacher on the verge of retirement. Profoundly shaped by his experience fighting -- and almost dying - in the First World War, Ramsay reflects back on his life, from boyhood through to his later years. Fifth Business is a brilliant, often funny novel about the human search for wholeness and meaning and an exploration of how history, memory and myth combine to shape one's reality.


"We have educated ourselves into a world from which wonder, and the fear and dread and splendor and freedom of wonder have been banished. Of course wonder is costly. You couldn't incorporate it into a modern state, because it is the antithesis of the anxiously worshiped security which is what a modern state is asked to give. Wonder is marvellous but it is also cruel, cruel, cruel. It is undemocratic, discriminatory and pitiless."

From Fifth Business by Robertson Davies. Copyright © Robertson Davies, 1970. Reprinted by Permission of Penguin Canada Books Inc.

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Literary great Robertson Davies reflects on being Canadian:


Robertson Davies' 1991 interview on Writers & Company:

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