I am reading The Adventures and Memoirs.
What is so fascinating about Doyle’s work? Is it to solve the mystery as the reader, the “real” part, such as the weather described in Hound of the Baskervilles being accurate, or what?
I am reading The Adventures and Memoirs.
It’s a matter of taste, of course. (“De Gustibus non dis…”)Either you like Holmes or you don’t. I do, and I suspect a lot of folks on this board do.
Part of the interest is the mystery, of course. Doyle constructed wonderful mysteries that Holmes seemed to solve with insufficient information. But he didn’t do this by withholding critical information (usually). His stories really are often important lessons in the art of observation, induction, or deduction. Read “Silver Blaze” or “The Naval Treaty”, and notice how Holmes begins by zeroing in on an important fact or detail that has been overlooked by the less-imaginative. Holmes’ stories are interesting because the deduction is not just for show, it’s plausible.
But the stories are interesting as character studies as well. It’s interesting to watch Watson and Holmes play off each other. Watson is not merely narrator and stooge, but his own character. Holmes character is a brilliant mix of eccentric, showy, vain, and logical. If Holmes had been a quiet, unassuming individual the stories wouldn’t be popular – they’d be boring.
Finally, there is atmosphere. Doyle set up a wonderful sense of atmosphere, menace, and (if needed) eerieness. He always provided a plausible backstory – his victims don’t exist for the sole purpose of being killed or robbed, but were people with lives and missions of their own, who might be interesting subjects for stories even if they hadn’t crossed Holmes’ path. Read Doyle’s other fiction to see how he did this sort of thing.
Not all of the Holmes stories are unalloyed successes. “The Creeping Man” and “The Lion’s Mane” and “The Mazarin Stone” and “The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge” would not be missed by me if they disappeared tomorrow. But I willingly re-read “The Blue Carbuncle”, for all its faults.
Plus Sherlock Holmes was hot. Homer Simpson would vouch for that.
But I digress. The mysteries are so popular because…well, they maintain a degree of realisim, in all the situations. Er, that is, everything makes sense, and though they are fictional accounts, it feels as though Dr. Watson is indeed transcribing such an event. Plus those Sherlock Holmes Finds About A Person Before He/She Opens His Mouth is pretty amusing .
Oh and good mood/description. Espcially in The Hound of the Baskervilles…
No wonder we were devastated when he was (temporarily) killed off.
I vote for the villians. Neat, unexpected, quirky. The Red Headed League and other bizarre clubs. Moriarity, of course. And the WAY the murders are committed can’t be underestimated: snakes crawling down cords, pygmies with blow guns…Top Drawer, eh wot?!!
I hated it when Darth Vader was unmasked. He looked like Humpty-Dumpty. The best villian since Dracula and wiffs out at the last minute…BAH! Great villians make great heros, look at Goldfinger, Ming the Merciless, George W.
“I need a man, bad. Are you bad?”
Arthur Conan Doyle wrote * Star Wars * ?
yes, i like the Sherlock Holmes stories, i’ve read them all.
They are great mysteries and truly defined the Genre. Hell, i suspect it helped define the concept of a detective.
But one of the things about Mystery stories is that they seldom hold up well to a second or third reading ( after all, you already know whodunit).
I still will re-read some of the holmes stories though.
I think the aspect i enjoy the most now is the historical.
This stuff isn’t fiction set in the historical context of late 19th century London. It was fiction set in Modern-Day London, it’s just that it was written in the late 19th century so “modern-day” has become historical. you see a city without cars or phones or radios or even electric light. The telegraph was ubiquitous and the professional class hired a hansom to get around town. And it’s written convincingly because the writer didn’t know there SHOULD be cars and phones and such. you wont catch him with an anachronism!
It’s interesting to get some of the beliefs of the time in an offhand way. Characters were always dying from the ever-present “brain fever” brought on by some bad news or shock.
I guess the point seems a little silly, because there were LOTS of things written at precisely the same time, but I don’t think i’ve ever read something from then (that i actually enjoyed reading) that had quite as much detail of the daily life.