Lets face it, ever since his very first appearance in Beeton's Christmas Annual, outside influences have been effecting our image of Sherlock Holmes.
Obviously for early readers of the Canon, the first illustrations first shaped how Holmes was perceived.
And the first time two readers of the Annual or the Strand got together to discuss aspects of the stories, discussion and 'higher Criticism' started to affect our thoughts and images of Sherlock Holmes.
It can probably be said that out of all the fictional characters out there, none have had more written about things that were not written about in the books.
So many of our discussions about the Canon are about filling in between Doyle's wonderful lines.
And if we are in anyway involved, whether in printed form or face to face, in discussions, we can't help but be influenced by that input. Some more so than others.
Many we totally disagree with, while others give us pause for thought and reflection, and, in the end, fill in some of the details of Holmes' character and personality.
Even though that was really my first meeting with Holmes, I still had images from the Rathbone movies to give the characters faces. Rathbone was of me fathers era, but his face had been in many adds and Sunday matinees of my youth.
But he never actually made me think anymore about Holmes. His mannerisms never made me reflect on whether or not the Canonical Holmes would have been like that in anyway other than his image.
I must confess that at this point in my Canonical career I was unfamiliar with anything called 'higher criticism'.
In about 1988 I was introduced to Sherlockian discussion with the forming of a local scion society.
It was at these meetings I learned there was more to these stories than what was just between the two hard covers. There was actually filler material Doyle never wrote about, and probably never cared about, but that we find addictive.
And along the way, much of that filler material has shaped our perception of Holmes.
Even the material we choose to discard sometimes makes us examine the perception.
And that leads me to my point of this post.
In any way have the last three most talked about Holmes portrayals, Brett, Cumberbatch, Miller, affected in any way your images of the Canonical Holmes, or at least made you examine something a little differently?
Let's start with Brett.
But eventually when taking the episodes in review with the Canon I really started liking his performance.
Eventually, through Brett, I came to appreciate the humor in Holmes.
Every once in a while the twinkle in his eye would show a little bit of the man in Holmes that was seldom glimpsed.
It will always be a shame that he never got to do all the stories.
While I find many aspects of his performance 'spot on' to an image I have of Holmes, many of the quirks the writers write in to his Holmes I find irritating. Irritating in a good way in that it makes me examine even more the foundations I have under my Holmes.
Unfortunately some of the irritating quirks have become the foundation that much of the 'fan' fanfare is based on.
But even that makes us examine our views, so is therefore a good thing.
While the latest generation of Sherlockians, old and young, are probably quite pleased with the time and setting of 'Sherlock', it could be argued that there are not many of the older generation Sherlockians who do not wish Mr. Cumberbatch would do Victorian era Holmes.
(Keep our fingers crossed for Christmas.)
Benedict's portrayal of Holmes was easy to embrace in the beginning, but probably provides less sustenance as it goes along.
So, while I love 'Sherlock', and the show has brought up much good discussion, I have found the show has done little to change or adjust my image of the Canonical Holmes. I think it even lacks the depth to make us even compare it very deeply to the Canonical Sherlock.
We can however imagine Benedict's 'Sherlock' in a deerstalker and Iverness cape.
that 'Elementary' is the most criticized and controversial of the new main stream interpretations of Sherlock Holmes. And not without good cause.
But I think it can also be argued that it offers the most in Canonical discussion since Brett for the real (you can decide what is real) Sherlockian.
Although much of what is portrayed in 'Elementary' we find if not disgusting at least offensive to our image of Holmes, it has been brave enough to force us to examine aspects of Holmes life that we often don't want to think about, or that we have neatly put away some where safe (for me that would be the constant reference to his drug habit). The show dares us to think about the dark side of Sherlock's personality. And sometimes we don't like what it makes use think about. I have respect for the show in that it makes me want to think about the Canon. Miller's Holmes has added some depth to my Sherlock.
While much of Miller's portrayal makes me examine the Canonical Holmes, he will never be the image of Sherlock Holmes for me. I can't imagine him in a deerstalker or Iverness cape.
It would be fun, and educational, and maybe impossible to have a class of students. all with little knowledge of Holmes and have them all read a few of the same stories and without conversation between themselves, then write down their images of Holmes. Everyone I imagine would be slightly or greatly different.
I must admit here that what ever conclusions I have come up with from any of these portrayals have been helped along in some cases by discussions with learned (and some not so) Sherlockians.
Have any of these modern portrayals had any effect on your interpretations of Holmes, good or bad? Are there others that have?