Fifth Business

by

Robertson Davies

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Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Fifth Business published in 2001.
Part 1 Quotes

But what most galls me is the patronizing tone of the piece—as if I had never had a life outside the classroom, had never risen to the full stature of a man, had never rejoiced or sorrowed or known love or hate.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker)
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

Can I write truly of my boyhood? Or will that disgusting self-love which so often attaches itself to a man’s idea of his youth creep in and falsify the story.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker)
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

I had made her what she was, and in such circumstances I must hate her or love her.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker), Mrs. Mary Dempster
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

Nobody—not even my mother—was to be trusted in a strange world that showed very little of itself on the surface.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker), Mrs. Fiona Ramsay
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

In later life I have been sometimes praised, sometimes mocked, for my way of pointing out the mythical elements that seem to me to underlie our apparently ordinary lives.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker), Mrs. Mary Dempster
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2 Quotes

I cannot remember a time when I did not take it as understood that everybody has at least two, if not twenty-two, sides to him.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker)
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

I felt that everything was good, that my spirit was wholly my own, and that though all was strange nothing was evil.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker)
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

We are public icons, we two: he an icon of kingship, and I an icon of heroism, unreal yet very necessary; we have obligations above what is merely personal, and to let personal feelings obscure the obligations would be failing in one’s duty.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker)
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

She had fallen in love with me because she felt she had made whatever I was out of a smashed-up and insensible hospital case.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker), Diana Marfleet
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3 Quotes

It was characteristic of Boy throughout his life that he was always the quintessence of something that somebody else had recognized and defined.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker), Boy (Percy Boyd) Staunton
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

I was rediscovering religion as well…The Presbyterianism of my childhood had effectively insulated me against any enthusiastic abandonment to faith

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker)
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

I rather liked the Greek notion of allowing Chance to take a formative hand in my affairs.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker)
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:

“A fool-saint is somebody who seems to be full of holiness…but because he’s a fool it all comes to nothing…because it is virtue tainted with madness, and you can’t tell where it’ll end up.”

Related Characters: Father Regan (speaker), Dunstan Ramsay, Mrs. Mary Dempster
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4 Quotes

Now I should be able to see what a saint was really like and perhaps make a study of one without the apparatus of Rome, which I had no power to invoke. The idea possessed me that it might lie in my power to make a serious contribution to the psychology of religion.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker), Mrs. Mary Dempster
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

Thus I learned two lessons: that popularity and good character are not related, and that compassion dulls the mind faster than brandy.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker), Orpheus Wettenhall
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:

“What good would it do you if I told you she was indeed a saint? I cannot make saints, nor can the pope. We can only recognize saints when the plainest evidence shows them to be saintly.”

Related Characters: Padre Blazon (speaker), Dunstan Ramsay, Mrs. Mary Dempster
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 5 Quotes

Why do people all over the world, and at all times, want marvels that defy all verifiable facts?...The marvelous is indeed an aspect of the real.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker)
Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:

“Life is a spectator sport to you.”

Related Characters: Liesl (speaker), Dunstan Ramsay
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

“You make yourself responsible for other people’s troubles. It is your hobby.”

Related Characters: Liesl (speaker), Dunstan Ramsay
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:

“It is not spectacular but it is a good line of work…Are you Fifth Business? You had better find out.”

Related Characters: Liesl (speaker), Dunstan Ramsay
Page Number: 214
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 6 Quotes

The Autobiography of Magnus Eisengrim was a great pleasure to write, for I was under no obligation to be historically correct or weigh evidence.

Related Characters: Paul Dempster (speaker), Dunstan Ramsay
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:

Boy had always been fond of the sexual pleasure that women could give him, but I doubt if he ever knew much about women as people.

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker), Boy (Percy Boyd) Staunton
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

“You created a God in your own image, and when you found out he was no good you abolished him. It’s a quite common form of psychological suicide.”

Related Characters: Dunstan Ramsay (speaker), Boy (Percy Boyd) Staunton
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:

“Come to Switzerland and join the Basso and the Brazen Head. We shall have some high old times before The Five make an end of us all.”

Related Characters: Liesl (speaker), Dunstan Ramsay
Page Number: 252
Explanation and Analysis:
No matches.