Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Report: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

For me, Sherlock Holmes began with the British series, "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," starring Jeremy Brett and David Burke. Even though I enjoy the BBC's latest incarnation of Holmes, as well as the classic Basil Rathbone portrayal, Brett is still at the top of my list. Of course, this is about the book, not the television series! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories and novels about his consulting detective were incredibly popular in the late 1800s, and I think The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes definitely stands the test of time. I mean, it must since it's been endlessly remade to fit the screen, big and small...

Now, as Victorian-era fiction goes, Doyle's writing is surprisingly modern, sharp, and fast-paced. Although I can usually navigate the circumlocution many Victorian authors are prone to employ, I don't particularly enjoy it. Sometimes less is more and more is...well, slightly tedious. But not so in this case! These tales of intrigue and derring-do, as related by Holmes' ever faithful companion, my beloved Dr. Watson, are just plain fun to read. And so real, in fact, that when Doyle "killed off" Holmes (no need to fret--it was merely a temporary death), his readers reacted all as if a real person had died. Now that's love. 

I could not help laughing at the ease with which he explained his process of deduction. "When I hear you give your reasons," I remarked, "the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning I am baffled, until you explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours."

"Quite so," he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an armchair. "You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear." -- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "A Scandal in Bohemia."

If you're a Sherlock Holmes fan in a major way, I suggest you dive into A Study in Scarlet, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (featuring "The Final Problem": Reichenbach Falls!), or The Hound of the Baskervilles, but keep in mind that Holmes is absent for much of The Hound. Or you could just buy the giant Complete Sherlock Holmes collection.

You may also fancy Edgar Allan Poe's detective, C. Auguste Dupin, in The Murders in the Rue Morgue. (Poe was the originator of the detective novel, by the way. Look for him in a future post.) Elementary, my dear readers!

1. Violinist Charlie Siem, via Charlie Siem; 2. London Tweed Run, May 2012, by Hanson Leatherby, via Lost Splendor; 3. 221B Baker St, by Ken Capelli;  4. Shadowy library, via Au Lait; 5. Magnifying glass with stand, by Authentic Models; 6. Roman & Williams studio, via Oh, Hello Friend; 7. Moscow Tweed Ride 2012, by Andrei Noskov for FURFUR; 8. Deerstalker, via The Sherlock Holmes Museum Shop; 9. Tommy Hilfiger Boots, via GQ; 10. Victorian lady, via Drugged & Unwashed; 11. Codes & cyphers, via Articles on Historical Cryptography;  12. Books, Watch, Knife Pipe Smoke, by James Demers. 

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