The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is the series of short stories that made the fortunes of the Strand magazine in which they were first published and ...
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Review of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle"
Think positive - being a failure isn't as easy as it looks!
I was quite late coming to reading Sherlock Holmes stories, though that’s hardly surprising given that I prefer non-fiction. I saw by some red, imitation leather hardback volumes and my mind was soon made up!
Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh and qualified as a doctor in 1885. He practiced as an eye specialist but gradually moved to writing full-time.After “A Study In Scarlet” was published (in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887, Holmes stories were serialised from 1891 in the highly esteemed “Strand” Magazine.
The short storiesI’m a little torn on the merits of the short stories. In some ways I prefer the meatier “The Hound Of The Baskervilles” and “The Sign Of The Four”.
On the other hand, the short stories in this and some companion volumes have an appeal of their own. It’s fun (and easier) to try to second-guess what is going on, and the short stories are handy to read when life is busy and reading a longer book is more time consuming or demands more concentration.Those unfamiliar with Sherlock Holmes tales may be surprised to discover that they are essentially mysteries rather than murder or even crime mysteries. Sometimes no crime has been committed at all, but deal with a mysterious disappearance (for example) that has an innocuous but surprising outcome.
In case you have seen a TV dramatization of some of them, or in case you may have dipped your toe in reading some Holmes tales, these are the stories included:A Scandal In Bohemia; The Red-headed League; A Case Of Identity; The Boscombe Valley; The Five Orange Pips; The Man With The Twisted Lip; The Adventure Of The Blue Carbuncle; The Adventure Of The Speckled Band; The Adventure Of The Engineer’s Thumb; The Adventure Of The Noble Bachelor; The Adventure Of The Beryl Coronet; The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches
Some take place in London, others in the countryside.
The stories are narrated in the first person by Holmes’ friend and companion, Dr Watson.~ ~ ~ EASY TO READ?
I find the style is fairly easy to read, though a little quaint, with some archaic words and expressions. I’m not implying that a person needs to be academic to read them, though. After reading one or two stories, the style becomes easier anyway.
“’To the man who loves art for its own sake… it is frequently in its least important and lowliest manifestations that the keenest pleasure is to be derived. It is pleasant for me to observe, Watson, that you have so far grasped this truth that in these little records of our cases which you have been good enough to draw up, and, I am bound to say, embellish, you have given prominence not so much to the many CAUSES CELEBRES and sensational trials in which I have figured but rather to those incidents which may have been trivial in themselves, but…’”
~ ~ ~ FLOWERY EXPRESSIONS
On occasion Holmes’ speech is a bit like reading an early version of “Yes, minister”, and makes me chuckle:
I was pleasantly surprised to come across some nice descriptive passages, whether of characters or places. I’d wrongly assumed that, for conciseness, description would be sacrificed.
~ ~ ~ DESCRIPTIVE LANGUAGE
I find him able to convey a vivid impression in just a few words:“It was an ideal spring day, a light blue sky, flecked with little fleecy white clouds drifting across from east to west. The sun was shining very brightly, yet there was an exhilarating nip in the air, which set an edge to a man’s energy.”
Characters~ ~ ~ SHERLOCK HOLMES
I like the way that Holmes is a flawed character. Like any driven genius he is prone to being egotistical and patronising. He has a substance dependence and is prone to mood swings, especially morose when there are no interesting cases to investigate that will challenge his astute powers of deduction.I think his character is something of a caricature, to be truthful, but Conan Doyle somehow manages to make him credible.
I find his powers of observation and deduction mildly amusing at times, as when he deduces all kinds of details about a man from his hat! I suspect the character “Jonathan Creek’s” lateral, highly logical thinking derives a fair bit of inspiration from Holmes.Certain emotions are all but unknown to him, and he is a stranger to love! His passions are observation, dogged investigation, and the application of logic. Danger holds little fear for him. He takes sensible precautions but commitment to his investigation makes personal safety a secondary consideration.
This makes the egotistical part of his nature easier to forgive – for the reader as well as for Watson!
~ ~ ~ DR WATSON
Watson is Holmes’ great admirer and companion, and the one who writes up accounts of selected cases.He is more human than Holmes is, and an unashamed admirer, though not entirely uncritical. It’s easy to relate to the tensions in their relationship:
“…I remarked with some coldness, for I was repelled by the egotism which I had more than once observed to be a strong factor in my friend’s singular character.”
~ ~ ~ OTHERS…
Other characters are a mixture of normal to eccentric and from a variety of backgrounds and temperaments. Unusually for the time of writing, many of the women are tough and brave, despite being vulnerable enough to seek Holmes’ help. One is even able to outwit the man! Again, I like the author’s vivid descriptions:“… a prestigiously stout man with… a great heavy chin which rolled down in fold upon fold over his throat…”
Concluding commentsI rate this 4 stars with one star deducted for the SLIGHT predictability that comes after reading a few stories, and for the SLIGHTLY variable quality of the stories.
~ ~ ~ I think that Sherlock Holmes stories, and this collection of them, would appeal to many people from mid-teens upwards~ ~ ~ I feel that perhaps those who enjoy “Jonathan Creek” or possibly “Miss Marple” or “Poirot” tales would warm to them. They are genuinely intriguing and engrossing, and even if I’m able to second-guess some elements of the plot, there are always “why” or “how” aspects that are only revealed towards the end
~ ~ ~ as mentioned above, they aren’t all murder mysteries, but they ARE all mysteries!~ ~ ~ despite the unifying mystery theme, the plots of the stories are quite varied. So are the settings
~ ~ ~ to me, the length of the stories allows enough room for characters and plot to develop, and for description of people, events, and places, but the ability to read each in 45 minutes or so
Available in many editions from just over £4.00. Penguin publish a “Complete Stories” (paperback) for about £6.99 and a “Complete Sherlock Holmes” for around £14.99 (Kindle £2.99)
Product Information : The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
Manufacturer's product descriptionThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is the series of short stories that made the fortunes of the Strand magazine in which they were first published and won immense popularity for Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson. The detective is at the height of his powers and the volume is full of famous cases including The Red-Headed League The Blue Carbuncle and The Speckled Band. Although Holmes gained a reputation for infallibility Conan Doyle showed his own realism and feminism by having the great detective defeated by Irene Adler - a woman - in the very first story A Scandal in Bohemia.
Genre: Crime Books
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Title: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Listed on Ciao since: 29/09/2008