Robertson Davies (1913-1995) (Obituary)

Article excerpt

Robertson Davies (1913 - 1995)

In 1976 when the editor of the Journal of Canadian Studies, Ralph Heintzman, asked Robertson Davies to contribute something to a special issue on Davies himself, he was pleasantly surprised to receive a short piece called "The goose says grace." Imagining he was at the Cratchits' Christmas dinner, Davies aligned himself, not with the Cratchits who were "poised with their knives and forks, and all of them, right down to Tiny Tim, salivating," but with the goose that was about to be consumed. "So it is with authors when they lie upon the platter before the critics. They know, better than any critic, where their weaknesses lie. They have admitted their manifold sins a thousand times before the critics saw their work. Nevertheless, they cling to a pious hope that, even when all the terrible muster of sins has been read and the debt cast up, there remains something of them that will not utterly die. Indeed, if they did not think that, they would not write at all" (February, 1977,3).

The well turned analogy, the wry religious imagery, the pursuit of the timeless, and the Dickensian locus are vintage Davies. With his death in December of last year, Canada - and the world - lost a great writer, one who in novel after novel provided "white meat and dark," heart, liver, "plenty of gravy, and giblets" for readers and critics alike. We who are associated with the Journal of Canadian Studies mourn him particularly because of his long - standing importance to the Peterborough (Ontario) area. …


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