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Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich

Stephen Leacock

Book Overview: 

“Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich” is a work of humorous fiction by Stephen Leacock. It is a sequence of interlocking stories set in one town, but instead of focusing on a small Canadian town in the countryside, it is set in a major American metropolis and its characters are the upper crust of society.

Although currently not as well-known as the earlier book, “Arcadian Adventures” was extremely popular in North America at the time of its publication and for a while was considered the greater success. It was also translated and published by the Bolshevik government and became a bestseller in the Soviet Union. (Summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .The professor was not, I suppose, a mercenary man, but it pleased him to think that he could, clean up sixteen dollars in a single evening in his laboratory. It showed, at any rate, that businessmen put science at its proper value. Strangest of all was the fact that the men had told him that even this ore was apparently nothing to what there was; it had all come out of one single spot in the creek, not the hundredth part of the whole claim. Lower down, where they had thrown the big dam across to make the bed dry, they were taking out this same stuff and even better, so they said, in cartloads. The hydraulic dredges were tearing it from the bed of the creek all day, and at night a great circuit of arc lights gleamed and sputtered over the roaring labour of the friends of geological research.

Thus had the Erie Auriferous Consolidated broken in a tidal wave over financial circles. On the Stock Exchange, in the downtown offices, and among the palm trees of the Ma. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Great satire! As relevant today as when it was written

Following up our visit to Leacock's sprawling old cottage in Orillia (now a museum) I decided to reread one of the author's classics -- this caustic 1914 satire on the misadventures and schemes of Canada's wealthy. It is likely drawn from Leacock's insights into the rich and self-important of Tor...more

These very funny linked short stories about life in a North American city bring to mind E F Benson, although Benson is more subtle. Leacock and Benson were contemporaries. Leacock was born in England but emigrated to Canada at age 7. He was the chairman of the political science and economics depa...more

The sequel as may be to Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and for my money the best Leacock I've ever read. Which is saying something; he's second only to Wodehouse in my pantheon of twentieth-century humorists; but if anthologies are anything to go by he was best known for the parodic short sto...more

Arcadian Adventures With the Idle Rich by Stephen Leacock

Stephen Leacock joined together tales from the lives of those who gather at the Mausoleum Club with the edge of his satirical knife. The book mocks and chastises the financial and business pursuits of these characters through careful observ...more

Published in 1914; Fresh and Pertinent Today

It's really very simple. Take the feel of P.G. Wodehouse. Add an ironic approach to business and finance that rivals A.P. Herbert's treament of the practice of law. Then add a bemused and generous, but razor sharp and always alert, sensibility that fond...more

A couple months ago, I went to a talk on the accuracy of university admissions tests given by a visiting professor from Great Britain. The speaker concluded that, with globalization, these tests are becoming less and less accurate, which will lead to ruined lives. I asked whether this conclusion...more

A classic Canadian satire, written in 1914, follows the oh-so-awful trials
and tribulations of the "idle rich" of the title who gather at the Mausoleum
Club on Plutoria Avenue. Brilliant at first, mediocre by the middle, boring
at the end. Favourite quote: "It was indeed a singularly trying time of
t...more

Stephen Leacock isn't tremendously well-known these days, or at least not in the UK, but I have a lot of his books, picked up from a second-hand shop in Eastbourne, all different colours and degrees of batteredness, and I love them. This one is about the excesses of the wealthy elites in the 1910...more

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