Friday, June 20, 2014

Brad's summer reading list - #6 - 3GAR

It just aint' right. 221b with a phone. Say it isn't so.

But it is.

Holmes has embraced the latest technology.

Although reminiscent of REDH the story does include some very fine things to make it an important addition to the Canon.

We can never forget the passage from Watson;
  “You’re not hurt, Watson? For God’s sake, say
that you are not hurt!” 
It was worth a wound—it was worth many wounds—to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain.
All my years of humble but single-minded service
culminated in that moment of revelation."

That passage alone would always get this tale in the Sherlock Holmes hall-of-fame.

Further, Holmes and Watson are in Baker St.

Holmes seems to be very amiable.

The deductions are sound.

We learn of an Knighthood that Holmes turned down, once again proclaiming a case we will never read about. (Could it have had something to do with the most recent Boer War?)(Or a comment on Doyle's knighthood that took place around the time of this story?)

And indeed, the Boer War had just ended, the second one that is.

". . . Just ring him up, Watson.”

But that one line is just so out of place in our (my) perception of 221b and how things are (should be) done.

Which brings up, once again, a very good point.
We (I) tend to look at these tales as great stories from the Victorian era. Costume mysteries if you will.
When in actuality they were written as modern mysteries.
With Holmes possibly at the forefront of the use of modern tech. in criminal investigation.
Although the microscope was not new by this time, Holmes may have been one of the first students of crime to incorporate it in the deduction of crime. As was the case with much of the scientific work he did to solve cases. Modern forensics. And although we find it much more romantic for Holmes to send and receive telegraphs, he would probably adapt to the method of communication that got him the quickest results.

Many of our modern generation could hardly imagine having to wait for correspondence to come through the mail now a days. It would seem to slow. But most of my generation still clearly remember when we would have to actually mail a check and a response if we wanted to attend a Sherlockian convention some where.
Most of us would be hard pressed to find enough stamps to do that now.

Holmes was not the Luddite that I am at times, and probably quickly embraced 'modern' tech., especially as it may apply to his work.

However. . . .
We don't want light bulbs in 221b. But they were probably there.
We want Watson to pour water from a pitcher when he needs to shave. But at some time, they probably had plumbing plumbed in. (And we want Holmes to continue to tell Watson how bad a job he did at shaving because of bad lighting.)
And we could never bare the thought of Mrs. Hudson cooking on an electric range or using Tupperware.

Usually it is us who are trying to keep Holmes in 1895 and not Holmes himself.

It is clear that part of the failings in popularity in the Rathbone movies (at least for the modern Holmesian) is that most of the stories were brought up to what was then modern times, WW2. And they have not held up well in comparison. Probably due as much to bad writing as anything. But at least the Holmes in those movies 'dressed' the part (and Baker St. had a phone).
We see in many movies when Holmes is brought to modern times he doesn't hold up well when still wearing his Iverness and deerstalker.

'Sherlock' has so far handled that well, and will probably continue to do so.

But who can blame us for so completely wanting Holmes to stay in 1895. After all, weren't they better times?
We want them in that museum of crime solving.

It must be true, otherwise the great Vincent Starrett would never have written;

Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
And it is always eighteen ninety-five.


  1. In SIGN:Holmes:"Well, then, in the first place I shall want a fast police-boat - a steam-launch - to be at the Westminster Stairs at seven o'clock."
    A. Jones: "That is easily managed. There is always one about there; but I can step across the road and telephone to make sure."

    In TWIS: The from Watson when he and Holmes enter Inspector Bradstreet's office: "It was a small office-like room, with a huge ledger upon the table, and a telephone projecting from the wall. The inspector sat down at his desk."

    The Victorians even got spam e-mail; local businesses would send out advertising telegrams. If Doyle could have afforded it when he was practicing in Southsea, he could have blanketed the neighborhood with telegrams announcing his brass plate was up.

    1. There is a very good and accessible book by Matthew Sweet called "Inventing the Victorians" that details how much they were alike our modern society.

      By the way, on IHOSE Episode 65, Scott and Burt mentioned how they are unlikely to get to From Gillette to Brett IV this year and are asking listeners who attend to make some audio recordings of the event for the show. Perhaps if you have a digital audio recording device you could capture some of the sounds of the meeting for them.

    2. You are right, that is a very good book.
      I will see if my ipad can record anything .