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L'objet du scandale (1970)

par Robertson Davies

Autres auteurs: Voir la section autres auteur(e)s.

Séries: La trilogie de Deptford (Book 1)

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3,223874,110 (4.15)1 / 386
Ramsay is a man twice born, a man who has returned from the hell of the battle-grave at Passchendaele in World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross and destined to be caught in a no man's land where memory, history, and myth collide. As Ramsay tells his story, it begins to seem that from boyhood, he has exerted a perhaps mystical, perhaps pernicious, influence on those around him. His apparently innocent involvement in such innocuous events as the throwing of a snowball or the teaching of card tricks to a small boy in the end prove neither innocent nor innocuous. Fifth Business stands alone as a remarkable story told by a rational man who discovers that the marvelous is only another aspect of the real.… (plus d'informations)
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Anglais (74)  Espagnol (7)  Catalan (5)  Toutes les langues (86)
Affichage de 1-5 de 86 (suivant | tout afficher)
In an age when all the best books fill five hundred pages with ten years of a character's life, this fresh breeze billows through seventy years in under three hundred. It's an erudite novel, full of references to psychology and mythology, with a capable hand reaching into the realm of religion, bringing out miracles and magic. Much to my surprise it also revealed the origin of Eisenheim, "The Illusionist", as Davies' Eisengrim, who would travel through Milhauser's Ellis Island before emerging under his changed name in cinema.

This first novel in the Deptford Trilogy is told by Dunstan (Dunstable) Ramsay, born in rural Canada to Scots parentage. Though becoming a history master at a private boys school in Toronto, he remains enmeshed with the lives of three people from his native village. Boy (Percy Boyd) Staunton threw a vindictive snowball at him as a child, and the two maintain a mutually beneficial friendship as Boy becomes a business tycoon, government minister, and one of the richest men in Canada. That vindictive snowball hit the head of Mary Dempster, wife of the unintelligently devout Methodist minister. Mary becomes Ramsay's fool-saint and lodestar, though held in a private psychiatric hospital. That vindictive snowball sent Mary into premature labor, and her son Paul, later Eisengrim, was born. Ramsay, surveying saints, and Paul, mastering magic, reunite first in Europe, later in Mexico, and decades hence in Toronto, with terrible consequences for Boy.

This smart and entertaining novel is said to be Davies' best; how well his two sequels continue the story down different paths, I am eager to discover.

I am an old man and my life has been spent as a soldier of Christ, and I tell you that the older I grow the less Christ's teaching says to me. I am sometimes very conscious that I am following the path of a leader who died when He was less than half as old as I am now. I know things He seems never to have known. Everybody wants a Christ for himself and those who think like him. Very well, am I at fault for wanting a Christ who will show me how to be an old man? All Christ's teaching is put forward with the dogmatism, the certainty, and the strength of youth: I need something that takes account of the accretion of experience, the sense of paradox and ambiguity that comes with years! I think after forty we should recognize Christ politely but turn for our comfort and guidance to God the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, who possesses a wisdom beyond that of the incarnated Christ.
( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
Not an easy book to review. A character study that delves into how a single act will drive further actions for the central character throughout his life and others. Davies mixes myth, religion, and psychology into a wonderful first person memoir. This "story" is of course told by someone who has made his life's work the study of saints. As the first in the Deptford Trilogy, I am intrigued about the other two books. ( )
  wvlibrarydude | Jan 14, 2024 |
Well written. Too bad that the blurb on the back of my paperback contained a major spoiler - that the snowball Boy Staunton throws in the beginning of the book contained a rock - as the impact of the book's ending was much lessened for me. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 27, 2023 |
This is probably Davies' seminal work, the one that everyone who has read one of his books has read. I just finished reading the Salterton trilogy, which were his first books, and I think I actually enjoyed all of those better than I did this one. Don't get me wrong, Davies is still one of my favourite authors--I love his narrative style and his way of getting deep inside characters, placing them equally inside their minds and spirits, and their times and places. I think that's really hard to do with the smoothness that he does it. Dunstan Ramsay's life seems to start when he dodges a snowball thrown by his friend--which then hits Mary Dempster, throwing her into premature labour and a lifetime of psychological and emotional problems, for which Dunstan (or Dunstable, as he was born) feels responsible, and spends his life attempting to make amends. Ramsay is someone who thinks deeply and critically about academic subjects, traveling and writing in pursuit of esoteric knowledge that will fulfill his spiritual needs, which I guess I relate to as a life goal, but who cultivates very few intimate personal relationships, which I can totally relate to, as a person who has found herself in a similar situation. The few relationships he does have are with difficult, unusual, enigmatic people, and some of those become the subjects of the volumes that follow this one in the Deptford trilogy, with Dunstan playing a secondary role. I always find this an interesting conceit, one that Davies may have pioneered. ( )
1 voter karenchase | Jun 14, 2023 |
Dunstable Ramsay, in looking back upon his life, determines that his has been the role of 'fifth business'. It is a dramatic term to describe non-central characters who are nonetheless required in order to steer the drama of others' lives forward, always positioned at the right place and time to do so. He does, as it turns out, occupy some of the other positions in the eyes of society and his friends - a hero of the war, for example, though he feels it a false title. Is all the world a stage, and does life only have import if you are its hero, or are the auxiliary roles just as important? Is it all merely a matter of perception? If Dunstan Ramsey is only fifth business who's role is the hero in the life that he knows? Is it Percy? It is Mrs. Dempster? In spite of his perception and his broad view of life, he remains the hero of his own story, as do we all. At the same time, this being only a novel and Dunstan only its narrator, its other pieces must come together if he is not to be its central figure.

Dunstan becomes intrigued by hagiography, the study of saints and miracles. He's extremely rationale in his philosophy but cannot and will not doubt or deny the miraculous acts he witnesses. Unable to explain them, he still integrates them as facts into his world view and devotes his life to exploring this mystery without ever crossing the line into embracing irrationalism. To my mind this is the perfect melding and integration of a sense of wonder. The wonder of this book was how it became increasingly more intriguing and interesting as it went on, without ever becoming too complex or difficult to understand. In large part this is due to the characterizations that bring such incredible life to some most unusual people. I wished I might know them in reality, their wisdom, their repartee. I had only intended to read this first book, but there's no question I'll be reading the other two Deptford novels to explore the full picture. ( )
  Cecrow | Apr 28, 2023 |
Affichage de 1-5 de 86 (suivant | tout afficher)
"A marvelously enigmatic novel, then, elegantly written and driven by irresistible narrative force."
 

» Ajouter d'autres auteur(e)s (14 possibles)

Nom de l'auteurRôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Davies, Robertsonauteur principaltoutes les éditionsconfirmé
BascoveArtiste de la couvertureauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Godwin, GailIntroductionauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé

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Fifth Business ... Definition
Those roles which, being neither those of
Hero nor Heroine, Confidante nor Villain,
but were none the less essential to
bring about the Recognition or the denouement
were called the Fifth Business in drama
and opera companies organized according
to the old style; the player who acted these
parts was often referred to as Fifth Business.
- Tho. Overskou, Den Danske Skueplads
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My lifelong involvement with Mrs Dempster began at 5:58 o'clock p.m. on 27 December 1908, at which time I was ten years and seven months old.
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" ... You despise almost everyone except Paul's mother. No wonder she seems like a saint to you; you have made her carry the affection you should have spread among fifty people. Do not look at me with that tragic face. You should thank me. At fifty years old you should be glad to know something of yourself. That horrid village and your hateful Scots family made you a moral monster. Well, it is not too late for you to enjoy a few years of almost normal humanity."
For I was, as you have already guessed, a collaborator with Destiny, not one who put a pistol to its head and demanded particular treasures.
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Ramsay is a man twice born, a man who has returned from the hell of the battle-grave at Passchendaele in World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross and destined to be caught in a no man's land where memory, history, and myth collide. As Ramsay tells his story, it begins to seem that from boyhood, he has exerted a perhaps mystical, perhaps pernicious, influence on those around him. His apparently innocent involvement in such innocuous events as the throwing of a snowball or the teaching of card tricks to a small boy in the end prove neither innocent nor innocuous. Fifth Business stands alone as a remarkable story told by a rational man who discovers that the marvelous is only another aspect of the real.

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