Murther and Walking Spirits

by Robertson Davies | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0771025661 Global Overview for this book
Registered by gypsysmom of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on 10/30/2005
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by gypsysmom from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Sunday, October 30, 2005
I picked this book up at Goodwill intending to read it and hold it for the 2006 Canada Day release challenge.

Journal Entry 2 by gypsysmom from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Almost 3 years later I have finally read this wonderful book. Shame on me!

I marvel at what a great wordsmith Robertson Davies was. It isn't often that I have to resort to a dictionary to look up a word but I had to with this passage:
Commodes, chastely concealing a chamber-pot for use in a lady's bedroom, might have quite a Gothic air about them, so that the infrequent pleasure of defecation- - the displacement of the Victorian female tappen- - was enhanced by a sense of historical continuity.

(A tappen is an obstruction, or indigestible mass, found in the intestines of bears and other animals during hibernation. Also referred to as a "rectal plug." They make it difficult for the animal to defecate during hibernation, but are often passed with great pain in the spring time.per Wikipedia)

Now I suppose the mark of a great writer isn't that they use obscure words but what makes Davies great is that he uses those words so precisely that you can't imagine any other wording. Tappen sounds so much more refined than rectal plug which is exactly what those using the Victorian commodes would want.

Anyway, I digress. The book is about the afterlife of Connor Gilmartin, a journalist and head of the Arts department of a Toronto newspaper, who was dispatched by his wife's lover when he discovered them in flagrante in his bedroom. The lover, nicknamed the Sniffer, wasn't so much concerned about being discovered as by the use of his nickname when Gilmartin utters these last words "Oh Esme, not the Sniffer." Gilmartin is somewhat surprised at being able to see and hear everything even though he is most definitely dead. He watches his wife shoo off the Sniffer and then call the police. He attends his own funeral. Then he decides to accompany the Sniffer while he is covering a festival of old movies. While the Sniffer is watching oldie goldies Gilmartin views movies that are more personal. He sees his ancestors as if they were actors in a movie and learns to understand more about them and what went into his making. Although his life was cut short it is safe to say that he will prosper in his afterlife because of what he learns. The Sniffer, on the other hand, finds no surcease from the guilt he feels as a murderer.

An excellent book and I think anyone with roots going back several generations in this country will be able to relate to it as an historical novel. Those who want to dig deeper will find much to ponder.

I'm going to put this book on the pile for release in the 2009 Canada Day release challenge. (Only 3 years late!)

Released 13 yrs ago (6/24/2009 UTC) at The Forks - see release note for details in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada



I left this book beside the Scotiabank stage to honour Davies' other career as an actor. This release is for the 2009 Canada Day release challenge. (Note: I initially did release notes for my other copy of this book but I have now deleted that entry.)

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