Book: Laugh with Leacock
Author: Stephen Leacock
Publisher: Pocket Books Inc. (1947)
Format Read: Paperback
She was begirt with a flowing kirtle of deep blue, bebound with a belt bebuckled with a silvern clasp, while at her waist a stomacher of point lace ended in a ruffled farthingale at her throat.
Stephen Leacock in ‘Guido the Gimlet of Ghent’
Laugh with Leacock (page 52)
Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) was a Canadian writer, humourist, political activist, and professor. He was, during the early twentieth century, the best known humourist in the English language.
“Laugh with Leacock” is a collection of short pieces with themes ranging from a rattled customer going to a bank, to a certain tenant insisting on paying rent to his benevolent landlord, with so many others in between. There’s a play of words in these pieces that is absolutely refreshing – and it makes the satire that much more effective. The author’s social commentary is scathing. And hilarious.
My favourites in this collection include ‘Guido the Gimlet of Ghent: A Romance of Chivalry’ and the ridiculously ridiculous ‘Gertrude the Governess.’ Both are gothic-type mediaevalesque parodies (although ‘Getrude’ is a little more modern.) ‘Letters to the New Rulers of the World’ is just that. Letters. They’re missives to rulers including a disposed, disgruntled king with many titles and names, and a ‘brother in darkness.’ ‘The Snoopopaths’ is a cleverly crafted mystery that manages to play games with the reader’s mind.
‘Love Me, Love My Letters’ has a series of disastrous love letters, and ‘The Great Detective’ features an all knowing, impossibly intelligent detective solving impossible cases. These are described by the Poor Nut, his mystified associate. The Poor Nut realizes that the Great Detective “…knew as much of the finesse of Italian wines as he did of playing the saxophone.” (page 31)
And of course, ‘The Affair with My Landlord’ is all about that crazy tenant who wants to pay rent. Only his landlord isn’t allowing him to. How incredibly infuriating.
The second-last piece, ‘Humour As I See It’ is an author’s commentary on humour in general, its writing, and how humour is perceived. It was, after a series of humorous tales, an enlightening read.
Leacock’s humour is sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious, rarely slapstick, and very well written. “Laugh with Leacock” is a classic feel-good book.