"The final Cornish Trilogy novel from an author who "tells terrific stories that twist around and double back on themselves in surprising ways" (The New York Times).
There is an important decision to be made. The Cornish Foundation is thriving under the directorship of Arthur Cornish when Arthur and his beguiling wife, Maria Theotoky, decide to undertake a project worthy of Francis Cornish-connoisseur, collector, and notable eccentric-whose vast fortune endows the Foundation. The grumpy, grimy, extraordinarily talented music student Hulda Schnakenburg is commissioned to complete E.T.A. Hoffmann's unfinished opera Arthur of Britain, or The Magnanimous Cuckold; and the scholarly priest Simon Darcourt finds himself charged with writing the libretto.
Complications both practical and emotional arise: the passion in Maria's blood rises with a vengeance; Darcourt stoops to petty crime; and various others indulge in perjury, blackmail, and other unsavory pursuits. Hoffmann's dictum, "the lyre of Orpheus opens the door of the underworld," seems to be all too true-especially when the long-hidden secrets of Francis Cornish himself are finally revealed.
"Davies once again delivers the goods-with this solidly entertaining finale . . . Blending a characteristic knack for wit, esoterica, and snobbery, Davies charges ahead with a buoyant tale of upper-class grantsmanship and modern-day cuckoldry . . . A spry jaunt from an old master-once again in full command of the form."-Kirkus Reviews
"Packed with interesting details of opera history and production . . . intelligent observations and playful allusions."-Publishers Weekly
"With his wonderfully complex yet controlled plot, deft portrayal of eccentric characters, and great wit, Davies effectively satirizes the world of universities and foundations."-Library Journal
Robertson Davies (1913-1995) was born and raised in Ontario, and was educated at a variety of schools, including Upper Canada College, Queen's University, and Balliol College, Oxford. He had three successive careers: as an actor with the Old Vic Company in England; as publisher of the Peterborough Examiner; and as university professor and first Master of Massey College at the University of Toronto, from which he retired in 1981 with the title of Master Emeritus.
He was one of Canada's most distinguished men of letters, with several volumes of plays and collections of essays, speeches, and belles lettres to his credit. As a novelist, he gained worldwide fame for his three trilogies: The Salterton Trilogy, The Deptford Trilogy, and The Cornish Trilogy, and for later novels Murther and Walking Spirits and The Cunning Man.
His career was marked by many honors: He was the first Canadian to be made an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he was a Companion of the Order of Canada, and he received honorary degrees from twenty-six American, Canadian, and British universities.