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Gosh, I really had to push myself through this book I don’t recall the last time I was so sorely tempted to just not finish a book Perhaps someone recalling or interested in Canadian life from 1930 to 1960 would appreciate this imagined diary and collected papers (I also thought it work of nonfiction when I first picked it up.) Maybe what Marchbanks needs is a skilled editor I think a succinct abridgement of the 539 pages (!) could have left me thinking of Davies as the Mark Twain of Canada For, it was the hilarious highpoints that kept me reading Such as,“Pedalezza is a variant, deriving something from frottage, that other delight of the refined sensualist, but managed with the feet.”…“… I slipped off the elegant evening pump from my right or left foot—on a great night, I employed both—and stretching my silksocked extremity beneath the table I would gently squeeze the thigh, or the sensitive area just above the knee, of a lady sitting on the other side of the table This requires a prehensile quality of foot, which can be developed by picking up oranges from the floor for half an hour every day The lady thus squeezed might squeak a little, butoften she blushed prettily and sometimes—if I were not quick—I would find that my foot was being given an answering squeeze As a usual thing she showed a new warmth toward one or the other of her dinner partners, which pleasantly surprised him and gave me exquisite delight I felt that I was playing the role of Fate in lives that needed a touch of fateful unpredictability.”“And that was pedalezza?”“It was I wish I might say that it still is, but you will have observed that I walk with a slight limp A lady whose virtue I had underestimated stabbed me in the foot with a silver fork It was all I could do not to scream with pain, but the laws of pedalezza are rigorous, and I forbore.”“But—allow me to ask—what was there in it for you, Sam?”“I do not follow you”“This pedalezza—the ladies never knew it was you?”“But of course not! That was its ultimate refinement Exquisite enjoyment wholly divorced from any personal involvement What can Sex offer ?”There isproactive and even edgy material than I expected from something of this vintage.OF WORDS AND THEIR EFFECTS •I WENT TO the movies last night and saw, among other things, a film about soil erosion called The Rape of the Earth The word “rape” was so irresistibly humorous to two girls and their escorts in my neighbourhood that I thought they would burst; their sniggers were like the squirtings of a hose when it is first turned on Some people are affected by some words as slot machines are affected by coins; feed in your word, and the result is invariable Feed “Communist” into an old gent with a quarter of a million dollars, and out comes a huffy lecture; feed “Booze” into a prohibitionist, and out will come highly imaginative statistics about accidents and insanity; feed “Rape” into girls and boys and you get this bromoseltzer fizzing Some of the racy innuendo is maybe now closer to the truth It’s not hard to imagine a female navel with a halo of tattooed Song of Songs quotations.… it is that comparatively undistinguished portion of the female anatomy comprising the lower ribs and the diaphragm which is now the focus of holy horror If women showed their navels with texts from the Song of Solomon tattooed around them, I might see some sense in all this fuss, but they don’t, and I don’t Many of Marchbanks’ criticisms of his modern times could be made today, like this one that I read of Helen Hayes making:This was in the days when actors thought it part of their job to be audible and comprehensible Many modern mummers, working on the principle that much conversation is inaudible, have altered stage speech to a point where only some of a play is heard, and varying amounts of the remainder are overheard Also, there are witty cynicisms I wish I thought of:• OF COMPLACENCE •OF LATE PEOPLE have been picking on me because I am what they call “complacent.” By this they mean that I refuse to share their hysterical fears about another war, about Russia, about the atom, about the commercialization of Sunday, about divorce, about juvenile delinquency and whatnot Because I do not leap about and flap my arms and throw up all my meals when these things are mentioned, they assume that I am at ease in Zion As a matter of fact I have my own welldefined field of worry, which I exploit to the full But it seems to me that a little complacency would do nobody any harm at present and I am thinking of incorporating complacency into the platform of the Marchbanks Humanist Party—a retrograde movement of which I am leader and sole support “Tired of Clamour? Try Torpor!” How’s that for a campaign cry? And this, which reminds me of a conversation with my brother a month ago:• OF IMPUDENT TRACTS •AN ENVELOPE full of tracts came for me in the mail this morning Tracts always ask foolish questions “Are you on the way to Heaven?” said one of these “Are you prepared to meet God?” said another “Are you prepared for Eternity?” asked a third “Are you going to a Christless grave?” enquired the last of the bunch Really, I do not know the answers to these questions, and I doubt the ability of whoever writes the shaky English grammar of these tracts to answer them for me I am not even prepared to meet Professor Einstein or Bertrand Russell; why should I vaingloriously assume that God would find me interesting? And I really cannot claim to be prepared for Eternity when I have so many doubts about today I wish that whatever Godintoxicated pinhead directs these inquiries to me would cease and desist In the struggle of the Alone toward the Alone, I do not like to be jostled And a final memorable one that makes me think Marchbanks would have been bemused by Facebook:• FRANKNESS DEPLORED •THERE ARE TOO MANY people in the world who think that frankness is an excuse for anything; so long as a man is frank and sincere, say they, he may talk as he likes They also cling to the stupid and mistaken notion that people like and admire frankness and respond well to it For instance, I was standing on a streetcorner today, when a man in a windbreaker approached me and said: “Lookit, I’m goin’ to give you no bull; I wanta get a coupla beers; will you gimme the money?” I looked deep into his eyes, and in low, thrilling voice I said “No.” … Now if he had given me some bull—some richly ornamented tale of poverty, of undeserved illfortune, of being robbed while on some errand of mercy—anything in fact which would have revealed a spark of imagination in him, I would have given him a small sum, knowing full well that it would be spent on beer But to ask me, flatly and baldly, for money to buy beer—! Is that the way to appeal to a Welshman, a lover of the spoken word and the gemencrusted lie? No, no Let such ruffians beg beermoney from those who admire frankness Anybody who wants a quarter from me must first produce a quarter’s worth of fascinating bull. Sad to discover that my reread after several decades was marred by the racist and chauvanistic parts. As Tony suggested, I found quite the companion in old Sam, one of the last true New Englanders who still does battle with the stove in his basement, and views the world with irony and honesty all at once I still need to return it to the library I have enjoyed many of his books, but this one was amazingly boring Maybe you have to be a Canadian of a certain age to get it. I am unrestrained in my admiration for this book The book itself is a collection of letters, diary entries, and fragments of table talk which were written ,and in the case of the table talk spoken by Davies alter ego Samuel Marchbanks It is a book to read straight through but it is also one to dip into Here is a favorite passage of mineSaw also a toy train big enough to pull children and a few adults Would fain have had a ride on it, but I had no child with me, and feared that I might excite remark and even rebuke if I tried to pass myself off as a nurseryschool type The train had an excellent whistle which sent me, just as Sinatra sends the bobbysockers Whoo! it went, mellowly and invitingly: Whoo! WhooMarchbanks is a curmudgeon and an eccentric a combination which makes for great company. This is another 3.5 stars.I really enjoyed it, a lot It's basically just Robertson Davies being random, and making silly observations under the guise of Samuel Marchbanks It's definitely funny, definitely worth reading But there's nothing really memorable I have general impressions, but no specifics For one, it's not a continuous narraitive It's diary entries, then random digressions on subjects, then random and oftenunrelated samples of correspondence Which is fun, but I was in no way emotionally invested.It's 500 pages of pure random nonsense, really Not that there's anything wrong with that, but there's a reason that this book took me months to finish Good for reading 20 pages at a time though.What was particularly interesting was reading a book set in Toronto a few generations ago Particularly since some of the descriptions of the city (and its relationship to other Canadian cities) don't seem to have changed in many ways I feel it's a fun snapshot of a Canadian writer, and definitely clever But it's not nearly as good as Davies' novels, at least in my opinion.I think I can best summarize this book by saying it reminds me of the Pickwick Papers, but with less continuous narrative. |DOWNLOAD E-PUB ♕ The Papers of Samuel Marchbanks ♶ In this collection of his newspaper pieces, mostly from the late Forties, Davies introduces us to his alter ego, a mildly irascible curmudgeon whose opinions and observations have been so popular in Canada that three volumes of his columns have been published there: The Diary , The Table Talk , and The Garland of Miscellania Davies has reedited them to produce a single volume and in the prefatory A Drink with Marchbanks even given us his own view of the journalist he created A pleasant entertainment covering such diverse topics as politics, theater, and manners, this volume offers a humorous and insightful picture of postwar Canadian life as seen through the eyes of a delightful eccentric who reminds this reader of a boozeless W C Fields This is a compiliation of 3 books by Samuel Marchbanks (Robertson Davies' alter ego Davies actually wrote a column for a Toronto newspaper in the forties under this pseudonym), and edited by Roberson Davies: The Diary of Samuel Marchbanks, The Table Talk of Samuel Marchbanks, and The Letters of Samuel Marchbanks If you enjoy curmudgeonly observations of life, you'll love this I feel like I know Marchbanks and would love to visit Marchbanks Towers for a glass of lemonade on the front porch sometime during the three hours of summer that he enjoys each year (remember, he lives in Canada).Semper Rectus! I have dipped back into this book again and again This is a collection of brief essays published in a Canadian newspaper probably back in the 1950s or so I find them charming, lowkey, humorous and reflective of the character of Samuel Marchbanks, who comes off as a bit crotchety fellow when confronted with the dim, unable to meet the demands of daily life (including wrestling with his coalfired furnace) I love Davies' novels, but I found this book first in a secondhand bin and bought it on a flyer, so perhaps a star can be devoted to that happenstance (impossible to find online) that led me to his greater works. Samuel Marchbanks, an alter ego of famed Canadian writer Davies, displays the full range of his wit, humor, curmudgeonliness, unreasonableness and charm in this collection of several earlier published books Many people prefer Davies' novels; I like him in small snippets This would be an ideal bed book if its size and weight weren't so hard on the wrists.