I’ve loved Leacock all my life. I’ve read many of his humorous works, and especially enjoy Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Part of the reason for that is that I spent summers not far from Orillia (the town upon which the fictional Mariposa was based), and I’m familiar with the types of people, the places, and the geography.
Now, here’s the thing. I’m involved in an audiobook project where I’m recording, as you may have guessed, Sunshine Sketches. I’m enjoying it very much; I rather like orally interpreting Leacock’s conversational style. We’re planning on the project being completed by Christmas, though it might go longer, depending on my schedule. Anyway, I’ll probably record another Leacock book after this one, but I’d like to know what people would like to hear next.
Me, I’m torn between My Discovery of England and Arcadian Adventures of the Idle Rich. But what would you Leacock fans like? I’d like to keep it to Leacock’s humorous works, rather than the histories or the economics/political science texts. But, Leacock fans, if you had a say in the matter, what would you like to hear from his humorous works?
Gertrude the Governess is one chapter in Nonsense Novels, one of the most famous collections of humor ever. It’s in the public domain so that site has it all up online.
The book also contains the Sherlock Holmes parody, “Maddened by Mystery - or the Defective Detective,” the wonderful “‘Q.’ A Psychic Pstory of the Psupernatural,” and the Wellsian “The Man in Asbestos: An Allegory of the Future.”
It is “Gertrude the Governess” that contains the always misquoted classic line:
Leacock followed this with Winsome Winnie and other New Nonsense Novels in 1920, but this doesn’t seem to be available online.
Leacock is the first of the 20th century’s great humorists, and a major influence on Americans like Robert Benchley, who adopted the same bumbling man persona. See Leacock’s famed “My Financial Career,” from Literary Lapses. Some of his work is dated now, of course, but much is it is timelessly funny.
Interestingly, “My Financial Career” was one of my first recordings. I had fun with it all, but especially the lines:
“How would you like that?”
“And the six?”
Anyway, it looks like I’ll have to give some consideration to Nonsense Novels, or another collection of short stories. I will definitely go back and reacquaint myself with “Gertrude” and “Maddened by Mystery.”
Thanks for the suggestions and commentary, folks. Nice to see that he’s still popular!
There’s another one in Nonsense Novels that I really like- I think it’s called something about an Inexplicable Infant. My favourite line is, “Tak’ no more a’ the buttermilk! You know it only maddens ye!”.
And the line from Gertrude about her giving Lord Ronald, “A gaze so gaze-like that only a gazelle, or a gas-pipe, could have emulated it.”
I loved your recording of My Financial Career, btw. It was great.
We’re working on a Christmas compilation of stories and poems and things, and I think one of the other readers has done “The Errors of Santa Claus.” No reason why I can’t do it myself though, as part of its larger work. BTW, my contribution to the Christmas collection was “Hoodoo McFiggin’s Christmas.” Always liked that one.
Lissla, was it “Caroline’s Christmas: or, The Inexplicable Infant”? (And thanks for the compliment!)
Looks like I may want to reacquaint myself with Nonsense Novels before I worry about anything else…
I enjoyed The Iron Man and The Tin Woman. I need to buy some Leacock; I haven’t read any since I went on a binge in high school.
Incidentally, I only discovered Leacock because I read an anecdote from Jack Benny in a book about Groucho Marx. Jack came upon Groucho laughing uproariously at a book. Turned out it was one of Leacock’s; Jack got turned onto them and in turn so did I.
bagkitty, though did you ever notice that there was a philosophical method to the Leacock building madness? My thesis is that the architect pushed a “nouveau medieval” spin on the blueprints to that one. “Hey, we’re going to take the small slitty windows of Chaucerian times that allow for no natural light, small creepy alcoves and a general dungeon like atmosphere and combine it with…60s concrete modernity!” Genius.
Gah, that sounds like the Robarts Library at the University of Toronto. It’s another 1960s concrete monstrosity. I should point out that Robarts is (or was, when I was there) also known as “Fort Book,” because it looks so impregnable.
Spoons: I have never had the privilege of visiting U of T so I went and looked it up. Gah! That is hideous. Though I believe it has more whimsical futuristic elements to it than Leacock. Leacock is far more obvious in its homage to poor lighting decisions of a bygoneera. Also, you sort of have to see those long long skinny windows and narrow hallways up close to get a sense of the ugly.
When we have out of town visitors, I always tell them, “We have a really big library shaped like a turkey.” They say, “No way”.
We go downtown, and I position them so that they’re looking right up at the beak, on this corner, and yea, they believe, and then complain all the way home about how ugly it is. The rest of the campus around there is quite nice. Well, most of it.