STEPHEN LEACOCK: HUMOUR AND HUMANITY
Volume 17 Number 3
Gerald Lynch approaches Canada's well-loved satirist through an exposition of the political and literary stance of a man he describes as a "kindly tory humorist and humanist." Lynch uses these terms as he takes the reader through Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich (both McClelland and Stewart, 1989), indicating the controlling pattern of ideas.In the flctional world of Mariposa an ideal of community is expressed: continuity of the existing society is the ultimate value, the evident meaning of "tory," In Plutoria, an opposite and false ideology of money-making and individual success at the expense of the community prevails. The setting-out of these ideas and of Leacock's theory of humour, which Lynch flnds to be kindly, usefully suggests something of the climate of thought in Canada on the eve of World War I. An objection might be made to the term "humanist," plucked from its Renaissance context and used by Lynch, one feels, to take the curse off "tory": it evidently expresses Leacock's genial interest in a humanity neither wholly good nor wholly bad. Perhaps Lynch's most valuable sections for students and teachers are those in which he analyses the two major works, sketch by sketch, providing a survey of the content and ideas that could help in finding starting-points for essays, Leacock is allowed to amuse us but is seldom used as material for analysis; Lynch's book is a helpful contribution in that direction.
Alan Thomas, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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