Stephen Leacock

Stephen Leacock

Book - 2009
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Canada's foremost historian examines the life of a great humorist.

Stephen Leacock's satiric masterpiece Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town captures "the Empire forever"mentality that marked Anglo-Canadian life in the early decades of the twentieth century. Historian Margaret Macmillan--whose books Women of the Raj and Paris 1919 cast fresh light on the colonial legacy--has great affection for Leacock's gentle wit and sharp-eyed insight. The renowned historian examines Leacock's life as a poor but ambitious student who rose to become an economist, celebrated academic, and, most importantly, the beloved humorist who taught Canadians to laugh at themselves.

Publisher: Toronto, ON : Penguin Canada, 2009.
ISBN: 9780670066810
Branch Call Number: 819.7 LEACO MACM
Characteristics: xi, 175 pages ; 21 cm.

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m
MelatSCPL
Jan 13, 2017

I grew up having Leacock read to me: Sunshine Sketches mostly. My mother, who lived in Orillia in the 30s, was a fan. So, I was eager to read this biography.
For so prolific and, in his lifetime at least, popular a writer even Ms. MacMillan can’t get far under his skin. Leacock seems an enigma; a paradox. He noted that, “...there is in all of us a certain vein of the old demonical humour or joy in the misfortune of another which sticks to us like original sin.” That vein shows up frequently in his writing. “Unbelief is a burden, but the pretense of belief, hypocrisy, is death to all that is decent in you.” he told his son. Over and over again in his stories, he tells us the same thing. Leacock self-deprecating humour indicates that, in this at least, he was no hypocrite.
Overall, the biography seems a bit flowery to me, but I found--I can’t quite put my finger on it--a dark current running just below the surface. I’d recommend this book, especially to young Canadian readers in hopes of encouraging them to read and enjoy one of Canada's earliest and illustrious writers.

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