The Cunning Man

The Cunning Man

"The Cunning Man", published by McClelland and Stewart in 1994, is the last novel written by Canadian novelist Robertson Davies.

"The Cunning Man" is the memoir of the life of a doctor, Dr. Jonathan Hullah, living in Toronto. Hullah is a holistic physician — a "cunning" diagnostician who can often get to the root of problems that have baffled others. A young journalist's query about the circumstances surrounding an Anglican priest's death at the high altar on Good Friday leads Hullah to reflect on his own life and career.

As is typical in Davies' work, the novel's themes are wide-ranging: miraculous cures, halitosis, cannibalism, medical solutions to literary mysteries, and more.

Dunstan Ramsay, the narrator of "Fifth Business" and a major character in Davies' Deptford Trilogy, makes a brief appearance here.

A fictionalised version of Toronto's Church of St. Mary Magdalene features prominently.

Unlike most of Davies' previous novels, "The Cunning Man" was not part of a trilogy. There is some supposition, however, that had Davies lived long enough this novel and his previous novel, "Murther and Walking Spirits" (1991), might have constituted another trilogy. For example, "Gil" Gilmartin, the narrator of "Murther and Walking Spirits", reappears in "The Cunning Man" as Hullah's godson. In fact, in his introduction to "The Merry Heart" (1996), a collection of Davies' writings published posthumously, Davies' publisher, Douglas M. Gibson, tells how Davies had been researching and preparing the novel which would have followed "The Cunning Man" and would have been the third in the series. Gibson speculates that this unfinished trilogy might have been called the "Toronto Trilogy".

See also

Cunning folk

External links


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