and Other New Nonsense Novels (1920)
(1911) I found this book while wandering through the University of Denver's library in the 1950's. I took it home and spent the rest of the day and most of the evening laughing and reading passages out loud to my parents who joined in the merriment. Leacock is a master of humor and I wish his works were more available.--Submitted by Phyllida Porter
A collection of short stories published in 1918.
and Other Contributions to Human Knowledge (1913)
(1916) Preface Many years ago when I was a boy at school, we had over our class an ancient and spectacled schoolmaster who was as kind at heart as he was ferocious in appearance, and whose memory has suggested to me the title of this book. It was his practice, on any outburst of gaiety in the class-room, to chase us to our seats with a bamboo cane and to shout at us in defiance: Now, then, any further foolishness? I find by experience that there are quite a number of indulgent readers who are good enough to adopt the same expectant attitude towards me now.--STEPHEN LEACOCK, McGILL UNIVERSITY, MONTREAL, November 1, 1916
(1914) A Chronicle of the Voyages of Jacques Cartier In the town hall of the seaport of St Malo there hangs a portrait of Jacques Cartier, the great sea-captain of that place, whose name is associated for all time with the proud title of 'Discoverer of Canada.' The picture is that of a bearded man in the prime of life, standing on the deck of a ship, his bent elbow resting upon the gunwale, his chin supported by his hand, while his eyes gaze outward upon the western ocean as if seeking to penetrate its mysteries. The face is firm and strong, with tight-set jaw, prominent brow, and the full, inquiring eye of the man accustomed both to think and to act. The costume marks the sea-captain of four centuries ago. A thick cloak, gathered by a belt at the waist, enwraps the stalwart figure. On his head is the tufted Breton cap familiar in the pictures of the days of the great navigators. At the waist, on the left side, hangs a sword, and, on the right, close to the belt, the dirk or poniard of the period.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: It is usual on these occasions for the chairman to begin something like this: "The lecturer, I am sure, needs no introduction from me." And indeed, when I have been the lecturer and somebody else has been the chairman, I have more than once suspected myself of being the better man of the two. Of course I hope I should always have the good manners--I am sure Mr. Leacock has--to disguise that suspicion. However, one has to go through these formalities, and I will therefore introduce the lecturer to you. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Mr. Stephen Leacock. Mr. Leacock, this is the flower of London intelligence--or perhaps I should say one of the flowers; the rest are coming to your other lectures. In ordinary social life one stops at an introduction and does not proceed to personal details. But behaviour on the platform, as on the stage, is seldom ordinary. I will therefore tell you a thing or two about Mr. Leacock. In the first place, by vocation he is a Professor of Political Economy, and he practises humour--frenzied fiction instead of frenzied finance--by way of recreation. There he differs a good deal from me, who have to study the products of humour for my living, and by way of recreation read Mr. Leacock on political economy. Further, Mr. Leacock is all-British, being English by birth and Canadian by residence, I mention this for two reasons: firstly, because England and the Empire are very proud to claim him for their own, and, secondly, because I do not wish his nationality to be confused with that of his neighbours on the other side. For English and American humourists have not always seen eye to eye. When we fail to appreciate their humour they say we are too dull and effete to understand it: and when they do not appreciate ours they say we haven't got any. Now Mr. Leacock's humour is British by heredity; but he has caught something of the spirit of American humour by force of association. This puts him in a similar position to that in which I found myself once when I took the liberty of swimming across a rather large loch in Scotland. After climbing into the boat I was in the act of drying myself when I was accosted by the proprietor of the hotel adjacent to the shore. "You have no business to be bathing here," he shouted. "I'm not," I said; "I'm bathing on the other side." In the same way, if anyone on either side of the water is unintelligent enough to criticise Mr. Leacock's humour, he can always say it comes from the other side. But the truth is that his humour contains all that is best in the humour of both hemispheres. Having fulfilled my duty as chairman, in that I have told you nothing that you did not know before--except, perhaps, my swimming feat, which never got into the Press because I have a very bad publicity agent--I will not detain you longer from what you are really wanting to get at; but ask Mr. Leacock to proceed at once with his lecture on "Frenzied Fiction."
(1919) Preface: The proper punishment for the Hohenzollerns, and the Hapsburgs, and the Mecklenburgs, and the Muckendorfs, and all such puppets and princelings, is that they should be made to work; and not made to work in the glittering and glorious sense, as generals and chiefs of staff, and legislators, and land-barons, but in the plain and humble part of laborers looking for a job; that they should carry a hod and wield a trowel and swing a pick and, at the day's end, be glad of a humble supper and a night's rest; that they should work, in short, as millions of poor emigrants out of Germany have worked for generations past; that there should be about them none of the prestige of fallen grandeur; that, if it were possible, by some trick of magic, or change of circumstance, the world should know them only as laboring men, with the dignity and divinity of kingship departed out of them; that, as such, they should stand or fall, live or starve, as best they might by the work of their own hands and brains. Could this be done, the world would have a better idea of the thin stuff out of which autocratic kingship is fashioned. It is a favourite fancy of mine to imagine this transformation actually brought about; and to picture the Hohenzollerns as an immigrant family departing for America, their trunks and boxes on their backs, their bundles in their hands. The fragments of a diary that here follow present the details of such a picture. It is written, or imagined to be written, by the (former) Princess Frederica of Hohenzollern. I do not find her name in the Almanach de Gotha. Perhaps she does not exist. But from the text below she is to be presumed to be one of the innumerable nieces of the German Emperor.
A Chronicle of Aboriginal Canada (1914) We always speak of Canada as a new country. In one sense, of course, this is true. The settlement of Europeans on Canadian soil dates back only three hundred years. Civilization in Canada is but a thing of yesterday, and its written history, when placed beside the long millenniums of the recorded annals of European and Eastern peoples, seems but a little span.--Before the Dawn
A Chronicle of the Frozen Seas (1914)
(1912) This sequence of stories was first published in 1912. It is generally considered to be one of the most enduring classics of Canadian humorous literature. The fictional setting for these stories is Mariposa, a small town on the shore of Lake Wissanotti. Although drawn from his own experiences in Orillia, Ontario, Canada, Leacock notes: "Mariposa is not a real town. On the contrary, it is about seventy or eighty of them. You may find them all the way from Lake Superior to the sea, with the same square streets and the same maple trees and the same churches and hotels." In 1952 Sunshine Sketches was adapted for television by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A second production premiered in the year 2012 starring Canadian actors Gordon Pinsent and Jill Hennessy. Two of Leacock's stories were adapted for television to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the publication of his classic work.
(1920) We may thus form some sort of vision of the social future into which we are passing. The details are indistinct. But the outline at least in which it is framed is clear enough. The safety of the future lies in a progressive movement of social control alleviating the misery which it cannot obliterate and based upon the broad general principle of equality of opportunity. The chief immediate direction of social effort should be towards the attempt to give to every human being in childhood adequate food, clothing, education and an opportunity in life. This will prove to be the beginning of many things.--"What Is Possible and What Is Not"
(1914) This collection of humorous stories is a follow-up to Leacock's 1912 classic Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. It is a series of interlocking stories set in one town, but instead of focusing on a small Canadian town in the countryside as in Sketches, this one is set in a major American metropolis and its characters are the upper crust of society.