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Extended Audio Sample The Cunning Man Audiobook, by Robertson Davies Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.59 out of 53.59 out of 53.59 out of 53.59 out of 53.59 out of 5 3.59 (27 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robertson Davies Narrator: Frederick Davidson Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2016 ISBN: 9781504740012
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From an early age, Jonathan Hullah developed “a high degree of cunning” in concealing what his true nature might be. He kept himself on the outside, watching and noticing, most often in the company of those who bore watching.

As the Cunning Man takes us through his own long and ardent life, chronicling his varied adventures in the worlds of theatre, art, and music, in the Canadian Army during World War II, and in the doctor’s consulting room, his preoccupation is not with sorrow but with the comedic canvas of life.

Just as Dr. Hullah practices a type of psychosomatic medicine “by which I attempt to bring about changes in the disease syndromes through language,” so does Robertson Davies intertwine language and story, as perhaps never before, to offer us profound truths about being human.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Admirers of the late actor James Mason will delight in the narrative gifts of Frederick Davidson, who also projects a delicious irony in the instrument of his voice. And what better material to give expression to that talent than Robertson Davies', Canada's most prodigious ironist…Davidson's reading never flags. He remains buoyant and wry throughout, a witty companion to have on a long journey.”

    AudioFile

  • “A delight.”

    Boston Sunday Globe

  • “A novel in which Davies’ clear-sighted humanism, irony, and grasp of character are on vivid display…Davies’ command of both his material and his elegant first-person narration is absolute. He achieves a remarkable sense of uncloying elegy in his vision of a group of people who are far more complicated than they appear, yet always utterly believable. To call a book the work of an infinitely civilized mind might seem starchy; to add that it is also wonderfully funny, poignant, and never less than totally engrossing should redress the balance.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “It is always a pleasure to read works that manage to be both entertaining and intelligent…While the issues addressed are those that have long preoccupied Davies—the nature of friendship, religion, faith, and artistic life—the approach is anything but pompous and dry. Davies' characterizations are rich (and just a bit quirky) and his commentary filled with humor. One of those rare novels that can be wholeheartedly recommended for libraries of every type and size, including high schools.”

    Library Journal

  • “Popular Canadian author Davies has written a sort of metaphysical mystery story…compelling.”

    Booklist

  • “Davies deftly combines metaphysics, magic, and modern medicine to tell a contemporary story with ancient roots…Set in that urbane part of Toronto where art, academe, and old money comfortably mingle, the novel also explores familiar Davies themes of friendship, faith, and art…A splendid intellectual romp as well as an absorbingly literate novel. Davies at his best.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • One of Modern Library's 100 Best English-Language Novels of the Twentieth Century

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom Hannis | 2/5/2014

    " A cunning read! Recommended for all my Canadian friends. Hard to describe. It's about life and fate. Enjoy! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Huw Evans | 12/23/2013

    " Roberston Davies is a master of quiet understatement and the hidden subplot. He writes so beautifully, with such care and mastery of English that he is a pleasure to read. The protagonist is Dr Jonathon Hulla, a physician and psychotherapist, who observes events with the same quiet neutrality that he observes his patients. The characters are fascinating and the central theme surrounding the death of a saintly old priest unravels many secrets. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 12/16/2013

    " I loved this slow philosophical meandering story and I hope to read some of the authors earlier works. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert Wright | 12/10/2013

    " This hasn't reached the heights of the Deptford or Cornish Trilogy, but excellent so far. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Petra | 12/8/2013

    " An interesting, witty memoir. Dr. Hullah takes us through Life, I suppose. Secrets, loves, achievements, failings, etc. The book does sag a bit in the middle in that the Dr's Life becomes a bit routine (or so it appears) but it then picks up again and is interesting to the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Catherine O'Sullivan | 12/2/2013

    " I would have been quite happy if this book had never ended, so I could go on dipping in to it for its wit, erudition, pathos and anecdotes for ever. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 5/27/2013

    " More Robertson Davies - this one a single novel, not a trilogy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Florence | 3/11/2013

    " One of the many books by this author. His characterizations and the story always make his books worth a read. Sometimes characters from other books (and also himself) show up in the book. Well written, exceptional. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rick | 3/5/2013

    " Canadian Agnostics Unite! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary L. | 3/1/2013

    " As a frequent reader of Robertson Davies, I am always delighted in his novels. "The Cunning Man" is no exception. Mr. Davies always leaves his readers with much to ponder. I highly recommend this particular novel or any other of his writings. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 12/15/2012

    " This book was not as good as the Depford Trilogy, but that's a lot to live up to. If you don't want as much of a time commitment as the trilogy, this book is a good one to get a feel for Davies as an author. He's definitely an author I was happy to find. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Feral | 9/23/2012

    " There were lesbians in it. That was cool. A holistic doctor influenced by early experience with Canadian Native culture. Art and religion in Toronto. Pretty good book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christina | 8/31/2012

    " I re-read this for the millionth time & it's still wonderful. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rafa Sánchez | 7/12/2012

    " A new example of vast cultured writing by Davies, his last novel speaks about religion, artistic genius, medicine and love... a bunch of first class human all time topics. Superb novel like all Davies'. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hjwoodward | 3/24/2012

    " I read this many years ago now, and haven't got a copy handy to refresh my memory, but as far as I can remember I loved it just as much as I loved the other nine books of his I've read: The Salterton, Deptford and Cornish trilogies. His acerbic wit and dry humour are never stale. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mars | 1/7/2012

    " It wasn't bad, and had its fun moments, but doesn't really live up to five stars. Better than the Davies stuff I didn't like, but worse than the stuff I liked. (see my other reviews for the list) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leon | 9/4/2011

    " Language of great substance and meaning. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gooby | 4/14/2011

    " Welcome back, Robertson! This later work ranks with his best novels. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stella Used Books | 2/27/2011

    " My love for Davies' writing increases with every book of his I read. I can't really describe why, but reading him just makes me happy. In this book, he tells a simple, human story with just a hint of magic to it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike/ | 1/11/2011

    " this has become one of the BEST books i've ever read - like #3 after Madame Bovary & Lord Jim.

    i had never read anything by Robertson Davies before, but i sure am now going to read more! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 1/8/2011

    " I liked this a lot. It was a good observers book and well written. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Allen | 6/19/2010

    " 75 pages and that's enough. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mia | 1/23/2010

    " It took a long time to get into this book, but once I did, I thouroughly enjoyed it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Hancock | 11/26/2009

    " Lame...written, it seems, so that Mr. Davies would have a vehicle to express his scholarly opinions. Thin plot, dull characters, and a boatload of showy erudition. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Stacey | 11/18/2009

    " I just couldn't ge through this book. I've read other Davies and loved it, but this book was just too dry for me. There was no hook. I got halfway through and gave up....which is very unusual for me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Janice | 11/2/2009

    " Did not like the section with the letters. Finished feeling sorry for this man. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Feral | 10/25/2009

    " There were lesbians in it. That was cool. A holistic doctor influenced by early experience with Canadian Native culture. Art and religion in Toronto. Pretty good book. "

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About the Author
Author Robertson Davies

Robertson Davies (1913–1995) was an internationally acclaimed author, actor, publisher, and, finally, professor at the University of Toronto. The author of twelve novels and several volumes of essays and plays, he was the first Canadian to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

About the Narrator

Frederick Davidson (1932–2005), also known as David Case, was one of the most prolific readers in the audiobook industry, recording more than eight hundred audiobooks in his lifetime, including over two hundred for Blackstone Audio. Born in London, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and performed for many years in radio plays for the British Broadcasting Company before coming to America in 1976. He received AudioFile’s Golden Voice Award and numerous Earphones Awards and was nominated for a Grammy for his readings.