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Literary Lapses Hardcover – Jan 1 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Aegypan (Jan. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603125760
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603125765
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,328,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Award-winning Canadian humorist and writer Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) was the author of more than 50 literary works, and between 1915 and 1925 was the most popular humorist in the English-speaking world. Leacock s fictional works include classics like Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich, and Literary Lapses. In addition to his humor writings, Leacock was an accomplished political theorist, publishing such works as Elements of Political Science and My Discovery of the West: A Discussion of East and West in Canada, for which he won the Governor General's Award for writing in 1937. Leacock s life continues to be commemorated through the awarding of the Leacock Medal for Humour and with an annual literary festival in his hometown of Orillia, Ontario.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

“Now, ladies and gentlemen,” said the conjurer, “having shown you that the cloth is absolutely empty, I will proceed to take from it a bowl of goldfish. Presto!”

All around the hall people were saying, “Oh, how wonderful! How does he do it?”

But the Quick Man on the front seat said in a big whisper to the people near him. “He — had — it — up — his — sleeve.”

Then the people nodded brightly at the Quick Man and said, “Oh, of course”; and everybody whispered round the hall. “He — had — it — up — his — sleeve.”

“My next trick,” said the conjurer, “is the famous Hindostanee rings. You will notice that the rings are apparently separate; at a blow they all join (clang. clang, clang) — Presto!”

There was a general buzz of stupefaction till the Quick Man was heard to whisper. “He — must — have — had — another — lot — up — his — sleeve.”

Again everybody nodded and whispered. “The — rings — were — up — his — sleeve.”

The brow of the conjurer was clouded with a gathering frown.

“I will now,” he continued, “show you a most amusing trick by which I am enabled to take any number of eggs from a hat. Will some gentleman kindly lend me his hat? Ah. Thank you — Presto!”

He extracted seventeen eggs, and for thirty-five seconds the audience began to think that he was wonderful.

Then the Quick Man whispered along the front bench, “He — has — a — hen — up — his — sleeve.” and all the people whispered it on. “He — has — a — lot — of — hens — up — his — sleeve.”

The egg trick was ruined.

It went on like that all through. It transpired from the whispers of the Quick Man that the conjurer must have concealed up his sleeve, in addition to the rings, hens, and fish, several packs of cards, a loaf of bread, a doll’s cradle, a live guinea-pig, a fifty-cent piece, and a rocking-chair.

The reputation of the conjurer was rapidly sinking below zero. At the close of the evening he rallied for a final effort.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “I will present to you, in conclusion, the famous Japanese trick recently invented by the natives of Tipperary. Will you. Sir,” he continued, turning toward the Quick Man, “will you kindly hand me your gold watch?”

It was passed to him.

“Have I your permission to put it into this mortar and pound it to pieces?” he asked savagely.

The Quick Man nodded and smiled.

The conjurer threw the watch into the mortar and grasped a sledge hammer from the table. There was a sound of violent smashing. “He’s — slipped — it — up — his — sleeve,” whispered the Quick Man.

“Now, sir,” continued the conjurer, “will you allow me to take your handkerchief and punch holes in it? Thank you. You see, ladies and gentlemen, there is no deception, the holes are visible to the eye.”

The face of the Quick Man beamed. This time the real mystery of the thing fascinated him.

“And now, sir, will you kindly pass me your silk hat and allow me to dance on it? Thank you.”

The conjurer made a few rapid passes with his feet and exhibited the hat crushed beyond recognition.

“And will you now, sir, take off your celluloid collar and permit me to bum it in the candle? Thank you, sir. And will you allow me to smash your spectacles for you with my hammer? Thank you.”

By this time the features of the Quick Man were assuming a puzzled expression. “This thing beats me,” he whispered, “I don’t see through it a bit.”

There was a great hush upon the audience. Then the conjurer drew himself up to his full height and, with a withering look at the Quick Man, he concluded:

“Ladies and gentlemen, you will observe that I have, with this gentleman’s permission, broken his watch, burnt his collar, smashed his spectacles, and danced on his hat. If he will give me the further permission to paint green stripes on his overcoat, or to tie his suspenders in a knot, I shall be delighted to entertain you. If not, the performance is at an end.”

And amid a glorious burst of music from the orchestra the curtain fell, and the audience dispersed, convinced that there are some tricks, at any rate, that are not done up the conjurer’s sleeve.


From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book contains a collection of ironically satirical essays. Satire is not my favorite form of humor, so it took me a few essays to get "into the swing" of the book, but I can say that once I came around to the appropriate frame of reference, I quite enjoyed the book. When reading this book, you must also remember that it was originally published in 1910; the humorous themes of the essays have aged well, but some of the settings have not.
As I read the essays, I kept having the nagging thought that the author's style reminded me of a contemporary author. Once I reached the "How to Make a Million Dollars" essay, it hit me: I would not hesitate to call Stephen Leacock the Dave Barry (Miami columnist and author) of the early 1900s. They both have the same sort of perverse logic to their points of view. Thus, if you can picture Dave Barry writing in the early 1900s, you can get some idea of what reading this book of essays would be like.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Stephen Leacock was a Canadian author who wrote his works with an optimistic yet realistic view of life. His light-hearted, bubbly diction impressed me all the way through the novel. Each short story was unique and had true-to-life situations and entertaining characters to whom readers of all ages can relate. His stories are full of good advice for everyone from the socially elite, eager-to-please teenager to the hard-working businessman to the overprotective father. Leacock exaggerates in many of his sketches, but that aspect of each story fits in perfectly with the separate ideas he presents. I recommend this novel to anyone who agrees that life should be lived to the absolute fullest, taking all chances and having a good time. As Stephen Leacock says, "Eat what you want. Eat lots of it. Yes, eat too much of it. Eat till you can just stagger across the room with it and prop it up against the sofa." (Leacock Literary 31)
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This is for those who love that dry English humor. I love this book! It mocks so beautifuly stupidities, naivete, and human anxietes. If you like slap stick humor, please look somewhere else.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xb3d5f780) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb3bc363c) out of 5 stars An acquired taste, but fun satire Nov. 3 2001
By knord - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This book contains a collection of ironically satirical essays. Satire is not my favorite form of humor, so it took me a few essays to get "into the swing" of the book, but I can say that once I came around to the appropriate frame of reference, I quite enjoyed the book. When reading this book, you must also remember that it was originally published in 1910; the humorous themes of the essays have aged well, but some of the settings have not.
As I read the essays, I kept having the nagging thought that the author's style reminded me of a contemporary author. Once I reached the "How to Make a Million Dollars" essay, it hit me: I would not hesitate to call Stephen Leacock the Dave Barry (Miami columnist and author) of the early 1900s. They both have the same sort of perverse logic to their points of view. Thus, if you can picture Dave Barry writing in the early 1900s, you can get some idea of what reading this book of essays would be like.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb3c25f48) out of 5 stars A wonderful mixture of comedy, nonsense and compassion Nov. 20 2000
By Val H. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Stephen Leacock was a Canadian author who wrote his works with an optimistic yet realistic view of life. His light-hearted, bubbly diction impressed me all the way through the novel. Each short story was unique and had true-to-life situations and entertaining characters to whom readers of all ages can relate. His stories are full of good advice for everyone from the socially elite, eager-to-please teenager to the hard-working businessman to the overprotective father. Leacock exaggerates in many of his sketches, but that aspect of each story fits in perfectly with the separate ideas he presents. I recommend this novel to anyone who agrees that life should be lived to the absolute fullest, taking all chances and having a good time. As Stephen Leacock says, "Eat what you want. Eat lots of it. Yes, eat too much of it. Eat till you can just stagger across the room with it and prop it up against the sofa." (Leacock Literary 31)
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb3c34c6c) out of 5 stars good sense of humor required! March 23 2002
By iactuallyboughthistuff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is for those who love that dry English humor. I love this book! It mocks so beautifuly stupidities, naivete, and human anxietes. If you like slap stick humor, please look somewhere else.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb3c349a8) out of 5 stars If you have a taste for satire ... Feb. 12 2015
By Robert C Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Reading Stephen Leacock is very much an acquired taste; if you like dry English satire from the early 1900's or so, or think you might, this is a great introduction to the form. Stephen P. H Butler Leacock, FRSC (30 December 1869 - 28 March 1944) was a Canadian teacher, political scientist, writer, and humorist. Between the years 1910 and 1925, he was the most widely read English-speaking author in the world. He is known for his light humor along with criticisms of people's follies.

Two of his best works include Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and

Arcadian Adventures With the Idle Rich.

A representative [if that word can ever apply to Leacock] sample from this work is attached.

I confess to a Lealock addiction; try him yourself and you may be too. (This liking may be hereditary; my Grandmother Ada Ross had a copy of "Arcadian Adventures" in a collection of her books I inherited.)

Robert C. Ross
February 2015

"Boarding-House Geometry," by Stephen Leacock:

Definitions and Axioms

All boarding-houses are the same boarding-house.
Boarders in the same boardinghouse and on the same flat are equal to one another.
A single room is that which has no parts and no magnitude.
The landlady of a boarding-house is a parallelogram -- that is, an oblong angular figure, which cannot be described, but which is equal to anything.
A wrangle is the disinclination of two boarders to each other that meet together but are not in the same line.
All the other rooms being taken, a single room is said to be a double room.

Postulates and Propositions

A pie may be produced any number of times.
The landlady can be reduced to her lowest terms by a series of propositions.
A bee line may be made from any boarding-house to any other boarding-house.
The clothes of a boarding-house bed, though produced ever so far both ways, will not meet.
Any two meals at a boarding-house are together less than two square meals.
If from the opposite ends of a boarding-house a line be drawn passing through all the rooms in turn, then the stovepipe which warms the boarders will lie within that line.
On the same bill and on the same side of it there should not be two charges for the same thing.
If there be two boarders on the same flat, and the amount of side of the one be equal to the amount of side of the other, each to each, and the wrangle between one boarder and the landlady be equal to the wrangle between the landlady and the other, then shall the weekly bills of the two boarders be equal also, each to each.
For if not, let one bill be the greater. Then the other bill is less than it might have been -- which is absurd.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb3c3603c) out of 5 stars Wicked-smart satire in the Benchley mold Oct. 21 2012
By D. E. Dickerson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A truly wonderful collection of pieces, ranging from silly to savage, by the Canadian equivalent of Robert Benchley. I say Robert Benchley because, like Benchley, Leacock has a wide range of interests that include poking fun at himself (the first essay, where he makes a fool of himself opening a bank account, is a classic for a reason), poking fun at social trends (the then-new fitness craze, the then-new obsession with doctors and medicine), and--at his best--sheer lunacy. (Like Benchley, he will launch into storytelling mode in order to mock entire types of stories--such as one about a nobleman's secret, which builds up the suspense and then ends with no one caring about the secret after all.) While some of his obsessions have dated, these pieces are almost perfectly constructed: they are all very short and efficient so as not to wear out their welcome. And from a construction point of view, not a line is out of place, not a single joke feels less than perfectly aimed. It's truly impressive and wonderful; humor collections this strong are rare. If you like the writers of the Algonquin Round Table, his Canadian equivalent is also their equal. I can't see anyone regretting owning this.


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