Nonsense Novels by Stephen Leacock

Leacock, Stephen. Nonsense Novels. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd.,  1965.

Completed: 11 August 2010

They don’t come anymore Canadian than this, a Leacock book published in the New Canadian Library (No. 35, collect them all) by “the Canadian Publishers” at a time when McClelland and Stewart was still a going concern in Canada, controlled by Canadians.

From the jacket: “In Nonsense Novels are ten recognizable stock situations from late Victorian fiction.  Among them are Leacock’s versions of nineteenth-century utopianism, the self-conscious and robust sea-story, the Highland romance, Sherlock Holmes, and Horatio Alger– all executed with complete control and sureness of touch.  The result is some of the most hilarious burlesques ever written.”

I couldn’t agree more.  Even if you are not familiar with the genre (and I certainly have never read a 19th century Highland romance) I found that I came away with an appreciation of the elements of the genre.  The stories are hilarious. Some of the most classic Leacock lines are in these stories.  Who can ever forget Lord Ronald as “he flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.”  Variations and riffs of this crop up all the time.  It has entered the cultural consciousness.

“Her body seemed almost too frail for motion, while her features were of a mould so delicate as to preclude all thought of intellectual operation.”  I know this character.  She has reoccurred in numberless other stories, films and TV shows.

This book was first published 100 years ago.  Much of the humour remains funny.

This entry was posted in Canadian Book Challenge, Humour, Leacock Medal for Humour, Leacock, Stephen. Bookmark the permalink.

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