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Biography & Autobiography Literary

My Recollection of Chicago and the Doctrine of Laissez Faire

by (author) Stephen Leacock

introduction by Carl Spadoni

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1998
Literary, History & Theory, Social Scientists & Psychologists, Canadian
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    Publish Date
    Dec 1998
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Disillusioned by the general drudgery of his job, Stephen Leacock resigned from his teaching position at Upper Canada College in 1899 to pursue graduate studies. 'At Chicago,' Leacock wrote wryly, 'they made a general pretense that I was fir for the graduate school in economics. It is a little hard to see why, except that I was obviously not fit to die.'


Leacock graduated from the university in 1903. Carl Spadoni's discovery of his dissertation -- previously thought to be lost, and unread since Leacock defended it -- gives readers a unique opportunity to re-examine Leacock's philosophies. 'The Doctrine of Laissez Faire' reveals the early roots of his skepticism about political economy, on which his later works of humour fed. In it, Leacock attempts to demystify the dogmatic opposition to state intervention based on this economic precept.


In his introduction, Spadoni provides the historical background for an intellectual understanding Leacock's thesis. The first part of this book, 'My Recollection of Chicago,' is a short essay by Leacock in which he reminisces on his graduate years at Chicago. The second part comprises his newly unearthed thesis. Together, these two pieces shed new light on one of the major figures of Canadian culture.

About the authors

STEPHEN LEACOCK was a Canadian humorist, teacher, and writer. He passed away in 1944.

Stephen Leacock's profile page

Carl Spadoni is the former director of the William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections at the McMaster University Library.

Carl Spadoni's profile page

Other titles by Carl Spadoni