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Nonsense Novels (Dodo Press) Paperback – 20 Jul 2007
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Stephen Leacock was a genius. Yes; genius. Critics are hesitant about using this word, but if it means a capacity for imaginative creation so extraordinary as sometimes to rise above what can be produced by the conscious exertion of an unusually gifted man, that was what Leacock had. If, in the realm of writing, it means individuality so striking as to provoke the admiration, envy and imitation of men themselves finely gifted...certainly Leacock had genius.-- Robertson DaviesIt is an understatement to regard Leacock purely as a funmaker. The often veiled satire of his nonsense reveals a sound philosophy. He is a keen critic who, like Lewis Carroll, wraps his deeper meaning in a mantle of mirth.-- "The New York Times" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Award-winning Canadian humorist and writer Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) was the author of more than 50 literary works, and between 1915 and 1925 was the most popular humorist in the English-speaking world. Leacock s fictional works include classics like Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich, and Literary Lapses. In addition to his humor writings, Leacock was an accomplished political theorist, publishing such works as Elements of Political Science and My Discovery of the West: A Discussion of East and West in Canada, for which he won the Governor General's Award for writing in 1937. Leacock s life continues to be commemorated through the awarding of the Leacock Medal for Humour and with an annual literary festival in his hometown of Orillia, Ontario. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Picture yourself in the office of The Great Detective:
"At the same moment there was a slight scratching at the door. A visitor entered. He crawled stealthily on his hands and knees. A hearthrug thrown over his head and shoulders disguised his identity. He crawled to the middle of the room. Then he rose.
Great Heavens! It was the Prime Minister of England.
"You!" said the detective.
"Me," said the Prime Minister.
I have truly found a kindred spirit, who makes me giggle and laugh out loud at his silly inventiveness. My only problem with this book is that it is really a brief series of short vignettes. I want MORE!
Okay, but what about his stories? Leacock's stock in trade was the parody of classic literature - stories about humble girls of (unknowingly) noble ancestry, who are engaged to work as servants for title lords, only to fall in love with the son of the mansion are turned into hysterically funny romps, where the lies not in the intentionally funny line, but in carefully crafted twists of standard sentence construction.
A sample, from the above-described story, called "Gertrude the Governess; or Simply Seventeen":
"Young Ronald said nothing; he flung himself from the house, flung himself upon his horse, and rode madly off in all directions."
Leacock treats the classic tale of knighthood (handsome, strong knight declares his love for the gentle maiden of the castle, and she loves him too, though they've never met) to similarly wicked entanglement of story and prose.
"Sorrows of a Super Soul" tells the classic Russian tale of an unrequited love, while "Carolyn's Christmas" the story of the old farmer, his family away (one son in the city, another in prison), his farm mortgaged, and a strange girl happening upon the family on Christmas Eve, with a baby, but no wedding ring. Both of these, and all other stories in this slim book, will have you laughing until you cry.
Buy a copy, get hooked. If Groucho and Jack Benny thought this was the best humor ever, how can it not satisfy you too?