Wednesday, April 04, 2007

BOOKS | The Rebel Angels in Istanbul

Let's try to sneak a bit about books into my Turkey blogs.

I brought Robertson Davies' The Cornish Trilogy and Bruce Chatwin's In Patagonia on my trip to Turkey. While In Patagonia had the advantage of being a slimmer volume - I eventually ended up lugging the 1000+ paged Davies omnibus around Istanbul because it was so much more readable.

I want to do justice to The Rebel Angels (the first book of The Cornish Trilogy - which I've just finished this evening, so I'll need to take some time to plot out a more decent and thorough post on it. But oh my. I do not know how to begin. It is such a rich, complicated novel brimming with philosophy, theology, mythology, folklore - and in particular the spirit of Rabelais is all over the writing. There is plenty of wit and humour - but most importantly, a deep, warm love for learning. I love a man who so obviously takes joy in learning of all kinds - and is not afraid of mirth and laughter.

Set in the university College of St John and the Holy Spirit (affectionately also called, Spook) - Robertson Davies fills his story with all these marvelous, full-blooded academics that are so fun to read. Their learning and intelligence is evident, their conversations expressivem thoughtful and hilarious a lot of the time. Most importantly, Davies brings out their humanity. His strength is in what my friend calls, his Voice - his characters speak - and you are captivated by what they have to say.

We're flying back home this Friday, so we're taking things slow - taking time to do some shopping, and just sit in a cafe and read. I spent the latter part of the afternoon in a cafe just reading The Cornish Trilogy and watching people go by. How I loved The Rebel Angels. How I love sitting in a cafe in Istanbul, with Robertson Davies as my friend.


Anonymous said...

The last line of your post made me smile big time.

bhadd said...

Pnin is another book set in a school that makes you awe at the people there. It is a heartbreaking story about the Holocaust before the academy really.

The Hood Company

Rebecca H. said...

I see I must read The Cornish Trilogy! It sounds exactly like my kind of book, and I think we have a copy around here somewhere ...