Stephen Leacock

Stephen Leacock (1869–1944) was a Canadian humourist, essayist and political economist. Canada’s highest award for humour is named in his honour.

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Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
Stephen Leacock

2012 / Short Fiction / $27.95
9781554471126 / Trade paper / 272 pp

Edition is out of print

In April 1912, the ‘unsinkable’ ocean liner, the Titanic, was lost on her maiden voyage, a happenstance which—while in no way funny—for the student of history offers a certain irony. While many publishers will no doubt see fit to cash in on the centenary of this historic tragedy, Gaspereau Press has the anniversary of another shipwreck, and its ballast of irony, in mind: the sinking of the Mariposa Belle—that intrepid pleasure steamer which has plied the waters of the Canadian literary imagination since it was first described (and sunk) in Stephen Leacock’s short-story sequence Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town in 1912. This may well be the funniest book ever written by a Canadian—at least intentionally. Leacock himself claimed that “the works are of so humorous a character that for many years it was found impossible to print them. The compositors fell back from their task suffocating with laughter and gasping for air.” Impressively, the stories remain laugh-out-loud funny even today—especially for refuges from or residents of small-town Canada, where the echoes of Mariposa’s belle-ish époque are still audible, and delight in its playful subversion still taken. As the popularity of Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie (television sitcoms which are clearly descendants of Leacock’s Sketches) attest, the tangled web of small town interrelations is a rich, rewarding and enduring terrain for the humourist.

Why, you ask, would Gaspereau republish this classic volume of Canadian humour when both inexpensive and tarted-up editions abound, and the text itself is readily available on the internet? The answer is simple: For pleasure! We want to honour the hundredth birthday of Leacock’s classic by creating a straightforward, affordable and extremely well-made sewn paperback edition that pays homage to the original format and typography of John Lane’s The Bodley Head edition of 1912. Our edition will be typeset in Canada Type’s Ronaldson, a revival of Alexander Kay’s Ronaldson Old Style, originally designed for the MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan foundry of Philadelphia in 1884.

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