Robertson Davies (1913-1995) had three successive careers during the time he became an internationally acclaimed author: first as an actor with the Old Vic Company in England; then as publisher of "The Peterborough Ontario Examiner"; & finally as professor & first master of Massey College at the University of Toronto. With twelve novels & several volumes of essays & plays to his credit, Davies was the first Canadian to be inducted to the American Academy & Institute of Arts & Letters. His last novel, "The Cunning Man" (Viking 1995), was a national bestseller.
ERICH AUERBACH (1892-1957) was born in Berlin into a upper-middle class Jewish family. He received a Doctor of Law degree from the University of Heidelberg, served in in the German army during World War I, then earned his doctorate in Romance philology from the University of Greifswald. Serving as a librarian for many years at the Prussian State Library in Berlin, he then became a professor of Romance Philology at the University of Marburg. In 1929, he published Dante, Poet of the Secular World to much acclaim, however after Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany in 1933, he fled to Istanbul. There he worked as a professor at Istanbul State University, writing his famous work, Mimesis. In 1947 Auerbach moved to the United States, where he was a professor at Pennsylvania State University, and then professor of Romance Philology at Yale University. He died in Connecticut in 1957. MICHAEL DIRDA is the winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. He has been an editor and writer for The Washington Post Book World for the past twenty years.He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. Translated by RALPH MANHEIM