The questions asked in this review engine do not begin to do justice to what's going on in this book. For starters, there are two protagonists, the grad student Maria Cornish, in love with her deep and inscrutible professor, Clement Hollier, and Prof. the Rev. Simon Darcourt, writing "The New Aubrey" about the University at Toronto and in love with Maria.
This book is an enlarging and engaging marvel, from its discourses on Paracelsus and the nature of health and identity to its excurses on identity and Rabelais, on the history of belief, on academic hubris and perfidy, and on pride and authorship, to its tale of how Maria comes to choose banker Arthur Cornish, a "priest of money" who proves to be also a man of musical and artistic taste, as her life's partner and husband.
That's not the spoiler it seems; one does not read this book to be surprised but rather to ponder the ideas its characters encounter in their lives and their readings. It ends like all good comedies end; it proceeds in a manner both picaresque and poingant.
Just go read it already! And finish the Cornish Trilogy (THE REBEL ANGELS, WHAT'S BRED IN THE BONE, and THE LYRE OF ORPHEUS) to boot.
This report prepared by Kate Sherrod
In the first book of the Cornish Trilogy, Davies introduces many characters, all in some way associated with a Canadian university. In a plot entirely too involved to describe - it involves, just as a sample, a suicide, a lost Parcelsus manuscript, gypsies, defrocked monks, love of several different kinds, and some rather unsavory academic research - Davies both lampoons academia and shows his love for it and for the wisdom it produces. This book is astoundingly funny, fun, and fascinating - a masterpiece.
This report prepared by Ivy