Fifth Business

Fifth Business Study Guide

Fifth Business is a novel by the famed Canadian author, playwright and professor Robertson Davies. Published in 1970, it is the first work in his Deptford Trilogy.

The novel follows the life of its narrator and protagonist, Dunstan Ramsey, and reflects Davies's interest in the "inner life" and the tapestry of the human psyche. In this way, the novel is heavily indebted to the work of psychologist Dr. Carl Jung. Jungian motifs and archetypes re-occur throughout Fifth Business.

Many critics consider the novel to be Davies's finest addition to Canada’s literary canon. First published by Macmillan of Canada, Fifth Business has gone on to win numerous literary awards, and it remains a staple in University English Literature classes around the world. It has continued to attract critical acclaim as well. The New York Times called it, “A marvelously enigmatic novel, elegantly written and driven by irresistible narrative force.” Fifth Business was also selected number 40 in the American Modern Library's "reader's list" of the 100 best novels of the 20th century.