Ironic Sketches of a little town. Speaks of Stephen Leacock and his work

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Ph.D.A-, November 1996

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It takes a certain type of character to see the humour in everyday life. It takes an even greater character to express the humour in ways that other people can appreciate and subsequently find gaiety therein. Stephen Leacock is such a character, and his compilation of short stories Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town recognizes, and assists the reader to recognize, one's need to laugh at their surroundings, their culture, and the people that interact in their lives.

Leacock is known for his profound ironic and satirical wit but, in the case of Sunshine Sketches, he offers aspects of tragic irony and sagacious insight with regards to everyday, small-town life as well, which serves to further enhance the value of his humour.

Just as Leacock was interested in the techniques of humor, he was interested in the language of humor. Besides the careful selection of language, said Leacock, humor demanded a 'great naturalness' of language, the use of phrases and forms so simple that writers straining after effect would never get them.

[Critics] felt that one of the main reasons for Leacock's success was that his style was that of 'a talker rather than a writer'. Another said...'He talked to the world. And the talk was good.' (Curry. p.242-243)

Satire is defined as a genre in which the author attacks some object, using his means of wit or humour that is either fantastic or absurd. In the case of Sunshine Sketches, Leacock's target is a fictitious small town in southern Ontario, which could be, and often is, compared to all other small towns across the country. Leacock immerses the reader amidst a collection of ordinary characters who become extraordinary due to Leacock's grasp of the comedy within human nature and the scope of small-town culture and tradition.

By utilizing elements...