Lies About Books: Fifth Business

The past month’s been a busy one (and a short one), with relatively little time for reading, so this month I shall review a book which I recommended in the past month, having read it earlier in the past: the classic Canadian novel Fifth Business by Robertson Davies.

Fifth Business is about a young, very successful businessman living in Toronto. Dunstan Ramsay seems to compulsively create businesses, each one more successful than the last. His first entrepreneurial venture was to create a company selling dreams; his second bought and traded friendship. Next he founded the Trust Trust, which sold exactly what the name suggested, and after that he built a company that sold innovative literary theories, and new ways to look at an old text.

But even as his literary theory business is booming, Dunstan goes ahead and creates a fifth business, dealing in none other than truth. Suddenly, his fortunes turn. As spectres from his past begin popping out of the woodwork, Dunstan discovers that his new business venture puts on the market a product which his clientele is not so comfortable facing up to.

Will Dunstan’s fifth business be his undoing? Or does the truth have the power to save–and, indeed, profit–after all?

Fifth Business is an intricately woven drama, which I would recommend to any fans of economics, innovative literary theory, and saints.


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