In 1912, Stephen Leacock's comic masterpiece Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town made him an international star overnight. He was published in magazines and newspapers across Canada and in New York and London. Charlie Chaplin asked him for a screenplay; a young F. Scott Fitzgerald expressed his admiration. Eminent historian Margaret MacMillan argues that, while much of what Leacock satirized in small-town Canada has disappeared, his humour endures. His skewering of pretension and his self-deprecating wit entertained thousands during his heyday, even as it defined a quintessentially Canadian stance. But Leacock, MacMillan points out, was also a public intellectual, engaged with questions about government, war, and a just society. Writing with her usual brio, MacMillan has created a wonderfully insightful and affectionate portrait of a man who mattered.
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December 14, 2011
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