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The serial publication of The Clockmaker in 1835-6 launched
Canadian judge Thomas Chandler Haliburton to literary fame. A broad
satire with a garrulous, deceitful American clock-seller as its
central character, the book was embraced by reviewers and readers
internationally. Some Canadian reviewers were less enthusiastic,
however, with one calling Slick's comically fanciful American slang
""low, mean, miserable, and witless."" Almost two centuries later
The Clockmaker is still central to Canadian literary history-and
still highly controversial, particularly for its treatment of women
and black Canadians. Richard Davies, a world expert on Haliburton,
provides a nuanced and illuminating discussion of the controversies
surrounding The Clockmaker from 1835 to the present and of the
complex historical and political factors that led to its
composition and reception. Historical documents include other
writings and speeches by Haliburton, earlier satires of Canadian
and American culture and contemporary reviews.
Regarded by many as the equal of Charles Dickens, Haliburton's
incisive social commentary is always expressed with sparkling wit.
A dedicated parliamentarian and judge, the creation of the
character Sam Slick is widely regarded as Haliburton's crowning
achievement. Following the huge popular acclaim that greeted The
Clockmaker (1837), the author, bowing to the weight of expectation,
brought the fast-talking hero of his narrative, Sam Slick, to
England. The Attache; or Sam Slick in England details the
adventures of the American wordsmith, as he delivers his brand of
home-spun wisdom upon this green and pleasant foreign land.
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