By Gerald Lynch
From the preface: "Stephen Leacock continues to be frequently considered as a author of light-weight amusements and unchallenging satire, as an writer with no an innovative centre who lacked a imaginative and prescient of adequate energy and readability to maintain a life of severe writing. in keeping with this view, which has been too simply bought, Leacock squandered an early, promising expertise (though he used to be in truth, middle-aged whilst he released Sunshine Sketches of a bit city in 1912), and as a result his writings, like his mythical Lord Ronald, "rode madly off in all directions." After years of chasing down Leacock's a variety of literary mounts, i will assert that none of this can be real. Leacock's writing emerges from a centre that's the confluence of the 2 traditions of humanism and toryism, traditions that present in Leacock fertile floor for the propagation of such features as tolerance of human fallibility and reputation of social accountability. what's amazing with appreciate to Leacock's literary output is that even his furthest-flung, likely inconsequential humourous items stream with regards to this tory-humanist centre." Lynch invitations us to accompany him on an odyssey via Leacock's major works, Sunshine Sketches and Arcadian Adventures of the Idle wealthy ... He aspires to enlighten the open-minded reader, and is extremely winning in doing so." Elspeth Cameron, Coordinator of Canadian Literature and Language application, New university, collage of Toronto
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Extra info for Stephen Leacock: Humour and Humanity
As will be shown in the next chapter, he held that the rise of a tolerant democracy made possible the further progress and ultimate fulfilment of humorous literature in the nineteenth century. In one sense of the word "humour," democracy humours, tolerates, the individuality that is essential to the inspiration of comic characters. The democratic system, warts and all, allows for the kind of reform that preoccupied the moderate Leacock: "In any social movement, then, change and alteration in a new direction must be balanced against the demands of social stability" (UR, 85).
Home and family are central to Leacock's vision of society and to his fiction. For Leacock, the preservation of our heritage of liberty begins, like charity and much else, in the home. His niece, Elizabeth Kimball, writes pointedly in her reminiscence of her uncle: "Family. Home. Country. "50 "Home" is of course the key concept in Sunshine Sketches' concluding "L'Envoi: The Train to Mariposa," and the "slums" provide a pointed contrast to Arcadian Adventures' sinful Plutoria. Though Leacock's practical suggestions for solving the riddle of social justice and preserving liberty do reveal his socialist sympathies, they are not as pertinent here as is the general attitude that he brings to the problem of social reform.
32 But Leacock could never accept only the limiting assumptions about human nature upon which Freud bases his conclusions. Leacock deliberately opposes his conception of the "super-self" (to be discussed presently) to "the subconscious self, that evil, inward thing" (RU, 206). Such a conception of human nature is evil because it seems characterized, like liberalism (in the nineteenth-century sense), by competitiveness, individualism, "cold reason," and a conception of happiness as physical pleasure which is reminiscent of Benthamite utilitarianism.
Stephen Leacock: Humour and Humanity by Gerald Lynch