January 06, 2005

Happy Birthday, Mr. Holmes


It is, apparently, Sherlock Holmes' birthday (b. 1854).

I have to confess that I've not read that much of the Holmes cycle. But I can sympathize with the Baker Street Crowd in their enthusiasm for their hero. (In fact, the Conan-Doyle Gang far outdoes us Wodehouse junkies in terms of fanaticism.) Of the stories that I have read, I think my favorite is The Musgrave Ritual. However, this is a product of my Royalist romanticism as much as anything else.

Posted by Robert at January 6, 2005 04:58 PM

Apparently there's a Sherlock Geek on the writing staff of CSI, too, as tonight's epsiode centered around the murder of a Sherlock-wannabe.

Posted by: Kathy at January 6, 2005 11:43 PM

I love the Holmes works. One of the best investments I've made was to buy the Penguin Classics "Complete Sherlock Holmes" in two volumes. It cost me $8.00 years ago. (I think they might be up to $12.) I've read all the stories now and have even gone back and read them again.

Also, because I have these two slim paperback volumes ("pocket book" sized) on my shelf, I can fend off the desires to purchase the entire collection in more expensive hardback editions by saying "I already have that, better buy something new..."

Posted by: The Maximum Leader at January 7, 2005 09:26 AM

I watched the CSI episode, thought it was pretty well done. The 7% solution angle being the key to it was pretty amusing.

I myself used to read the Holmes stories as a kid; I got interested in them because one of our stops returning from the beach in Connecticut was Gillette Castle -- home of William Gillete, who was the stage actor who portrayed Holmes around the turn of the 20th century. Gillette Castle is pretty cool.

Anyway -- the Holmes books -- what used to frustrate me as a kid was that I sometimes could come up with plausible, alternative scenarios to Holmes, and would say "you haven't proved anything, jack." But of course, the perp always confesses.

Which is also how CSI resolved it last night.

To me, that is a major flaw of the murder mystery as a genre. Too many cases rely on the "deus ex machina" of the confession to make it all right at the end. I myself, if faced with a Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, or Gil Grissom would say "Yeah? Is that so? Let's see what my lawyer Mr. Cochrane can make this look like in court."

Posted by: The Colossus at January 7, 2005 10:57 AM

Colossus: (from Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett)

And [Vimes] distrusted the kind of person who'd take one look at another man and say in a lordly voice to his companion, "Ah, my dear sir, I can tell you nothing except that he is a left-handed stonemason who has spent some years in the merchant navy and has recently fell on hard times," and the unroll a lot of supercilious commentary about calluses and stance and the state of a man's boots, when exactly the same comments could apply to a man who was wearing his old clothes because he'd been doing a spot of home bricklaying for a new barbecue pit, and had been tattooed once when he was drunk and seventeen (which are often synonymous) and in fact got seasick on a wet pavement. What arrogance! What an insult to the rich and chaotic variety of the human experience!

Posted by: John at January 7, 2005 11:40 AM

naysayers! just jealous, I think. Robert, if you like The Musgrave Ritual, you might enjoy the Granada Television series' version, along with the many other episodes on tape and dvd featuring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes. Musgrave Ritual and The Solitary Cyclist are two of my favorites, and there's a new dvd compilation out for $30 on Amazon.

Posted by: tee bee at January 7, 2005 12:56 PM


Dead on. I liked the Holmes stories, but his godlike certainty was always bothersome.

Also of note is Jeff Goldstein's "Nuance Headed League" over at protein wisdom. A Holmes Spoof about Kofi Annan. Pretty funny.

Posted by: The Colossus at January 7, 2005 01:52 PM

TB - I've actually got a couple of the Brett version videos and I quite like them. (Okay - who wants to take the first shot at me for actually PRAISING a tee vee adaptation of a book?)

Posted by: Robert the LB at January 7, 2005 06:22 PM

I have HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLIES and i,ve seen both the versions with BASIL RATHBONE and JERIMY BRET and the SCARLET CLAW make a great holloween horror story

Posted by: militaint sandpiper at January 9, 2005 02:23 PM
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