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Laugh with Leacock

de Stephen Leacock

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1930. An anthology of the best works of Leacock, a Canadian humorist and economist, who published a number of serious works in his field as well as in history and biography, but is best known for his collections of satirical essays and short stories. See other titles by this author available from Kessinger Publishing.… (mais)
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Stephen Leacock was a Canadian humorist whose work was widely syndicated in both Canada and the U.S. In fact, his Wikipedia page includes the statement, "Also, between the years 1915 and 1925, Leacock was the most popular humourist in the English-speaking world." They include four sources for that statement, so I think it's safe to say that if it isn't strictly speaking true, it is at least not an unreasonable claim to make about Leacock's popularity at that time. When I was a kid in the early 1960s it did seem to me that every house we went to had a copy of Laugh with Leacock sitting around, often in the same Cardinal Giant paperback version my parents had.

Anyway, as you would guess (if you didn't already know), Laugh with Leacock is a collection of Leacock's most favored columns. The book was originally published in 1913. My hardcover copy is a nineteenth printing, dated 1945, which will give you an idea of Leacock's staying power. Some of these stories/columns now seem dated, but most of them still supply at least a chuckle, and some even had me laughing out loud. Just for an example, here is the opening of "How My Wife and I Built Our Home for $4.90:"

"I was leaning up against the mantelpiece in a lounge suit which I had made out of old ice bags, and Beryl, my wife, was seated at my feet on a low Louis Quinze tabouret which she had made out of a Finnan Haddie fishbox, when the idea of a bungalow came to both of us at the same time. . . ."

Not a knee-slapper, but an introduction that promises a column of gentle, effective humor, a take down of "Do It Yourself For Less," which then goes on to deliver on that promise. Once the bungalow idea has been put in motion and a suitable site found and purchased (for $1.50) . . .

"Owing perhaps to my inexperience, it took me the whole of the morning to dig out a cellar forty feet long and twenty feet wide. Beryl, who had meantime cleaned up the lot, stacked the lumber, lifted away the stones and planted fifty yards of hedge, was inclined to be a little impatient. But I reminded her that a contractor working with a gang of man and two or three teams of horses would have taken a while week to do what I did in one morning. I admitted that my work was not equal to the best records as related in the weekly home journals, where I have often computed that they move 100,000 cubic feet of earth in one paragraph, but at least I was doing my best."

Well, anyway, if these excerpts seem amusing and/or charming to you, then you will understand my enjoyment of this collection. I can see, though, where this sort of thing wouldn't be everybody's cup of tea. I would say that the book is about a 50-50 split between a little obvious and dated on the one hand and still providing a happy chuckle, at least, on the other. ( )
  rocketjk | Mar 30, 2020 |
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1930. An anthology of the best works of Leacock, a Canadian humorist and economist, who published a number of serious works in his field as well as in history and biography, but is best known for his collections of satirical essays and short stories. See other titles by this author available from Kessinger Publishing.

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