Launching LEACOCK 150~100~75: The Slug-Horn Plays the First Post

Monday, March 25th 2019: First Post here, First Post overall. (Posts will flow weekly here on Mondays.)

Well, here we are, exactly a month after the previous post, surging forward into Launch Week of LEACOCK 150~100~75. Launch Day is Thursday, March 28th. I will play appropriate fanfare on the slug-horn then. If you are wondering which slug-horn, it’s Childe Roland’s, with which he sought to challenge the Dark Tower, according to the poet Browning.

You will perhaps recall that Childe Roland, on that occasion, was surrounded by the ghosts of those who had gone before. So we will be if I have anything to say about the matter. At least for blogging purposes I can call spirits from the vasty deep, and they will come when I do call for them. Leading the parade, or chorus, or whatever they are, will be Stephen Leacock’s ghost, known as Olde Stephen. We can’t expect to see him , however, until Thursday, the 75th anniversary of his death. I will make sure that he checks in here next Monday. (“Olde”, by the way, is an archaic usage signifying a teacher, just as “childe” signifies a knightly squire, a learner.)

We should also draw attention to the likelihood that this week, or thereabouts, is the 150th anniversary of his conception,—his birthday being December 30th,—although his parents did not record a specific date. Perhaps they were sufficiently vigorous and devoted at that stage to allow for several eligible dates. Later on they gave up, but not before a further eight children. They already had two when Stephen arrived.

If you are interested in all these goings on, please remember to keep in touch with http://www.voyageurstorytelling.ca, where the story of proceedings will be told and always up to date. Up-dates on Twitter (@conwaypaulw) and Facebook (Voyageur Storytelling) will appear on Thursdays. Postings will appear on the other two blogs (Mariposa’s, and my own) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, respectively. It may take a few weeks for all this to come together and shake down. I will do my best to keep up the pace until December 30th.

I leap into these nine months of anniversary blogging and posting with two purposes in mind: first, to revive a full awareness of all that Stephen Leacock was. I profess to be aware of the breadth if not the entire depth. I am aware in particular that he was an opinionated man with a difficult personality. I am also aware that his accomplishment was enormous, as far as I know not matched quantitatively until Northrop Frye came along, and for breadth of quality not even then. Depth is another matter. I am not aware of any Canadian writer who did as much over such a wide field, and if there is one please tell me who it is. I would be most grateful to learn more.

My other principal purpose is to re-write Stephen Leacock’s almost forgotten book, The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, written in 1919, published first as a series of newspaper articles from August to October that year, and as a book in January 1920. We have not solved the unsolved riddle of social justice, not by a long shot, and to suggest that it is a moving target should not remove the incentive to try. I intend to probe its unsolved riddleness, find out how deep it runs,—I believe it may well run deep, indeed down into the very heart of the matter,—and explore how we can cope so as to move resolutely and steadily towards the goal and not become discouraged. I believe that Stephen Leacock started a line of thought about social justice that needs to be continued.

We think of Stephen Leacock as a humourist. Much more than that, however, he was a teacher. We may do ourselves harm if we assume we have nothing to learn from him.

I intend to conduct this probe on-line, in the hope that you and many others will respond, using the comments facility on this blog or the others, or writing to me by e-mail: voyageur@bmts.com.

Stephen Leacock began The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice with this statement: “These are troubled times.” Since I believe that to be one line of the book that is not out of date, I will start there next week.

Posted by Paul Conway, Voyageur Storytelling, producer of LEACOCK 150~100~75.

 

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