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Favourite books *about* the canon

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It's weird.... and possibly quasi-heretical... but I find lately that for my Holmes & Watson hit i'm not going to the actual stories, but to my humble collection of books about Holmes & Watson.

 

I'm sure you all have your own favourites of Sherlockian 'non-fiction' ;) 

 

It's quite hard to pick favourites because most works of this nature all have their charms. In their willingness to play The Great Game some writers are mischievious, some pretending to be deadly serious, some make incredible deductions from aspects we may have missed on casual reading.

 

(only occasionally are some enfuriating.... I had the displeasure to read one which had an Introduction basically slagging off anyone stupid enough to think that Holmes ever said "elementary my dear Watson" in the books... as if all those people who loved the films Don't Count)

 

My first such book is one of my favourites precisely because it was my first. I was lucky enough to have Michael Harrison be my guide to Sherlockian scholarship, with his incredibly detailed, subtly hilarious (EVERYONE is really a front for the Prince of Wales!) and energetic 'The World of Sherlock Holmes'. I really should do a detailed review of it because it really did bring home to me just how vast and wonderful the characters and situations created by ACD really were, and still are to this day.

 

What about you chaps?

 

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I can't think that I have any such books yet, though I did inherit my father's copy of the Baring-Gould annotated set.  I'll be sure to bear your suggestion in mind!

 

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I read the Arthur Conan Doyle biography ' Teller of tales', by Daniel Stashowr. Really enjoyed it.

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I can't think that I have any such books yet, though I did inherit my father's copy of the Baring-Gould annotated set.  I'll be sure to bear your suggestion in mind!

 

Carol, the Baring-Gould set is..... phenomenal!! Just so huge, it'll probably take me a lifetime to even begin to absorb everything in it, but what a book...!!

 

I have the one-volume edition which means i'm reluctant to heft it out except when I really need to look up something. It weighs a ton *lol

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I feel the same way about my two-volume set -- definitely not "light reading"!  That's why I have the stories in separate small volumes.

 

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whilst thinking on the subject of canonical writings, I scribbled together this blog post:

http://spaceybox.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/sherlockiana-should-be-fun-fun-fun.html

 

(quick version: taking it deadly serious can be boring, allowing a touch of the ridiculous makes it fun!) :)

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Just came across this:
 
sherlock_2853203b.jpg
 

He enthralled Victorian England with his unrivalled skill at cracking cases, based on astute logical reasoning and grasp of forensic science, not to mention a mastery of disguises and encyclopedic knowledge of the criminal underclass.

But this detective was not Sherlock Holmes but a real life investigator, Jerome Caminada, who, new research suggests, helped inspire Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s celebrated hero.

 
Several people who commented on the article were incensed that the author of this new book would suggest such a thing, because "everyone knows that Holmes was inspired by Dr. Joseph Bell."  But even though Dr. Bell may have been Conan Doyle's original inspiration, I don't see how that means none of Holmes came from other sources.  Could be interesting.
 
You can read the entire article here.

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This isn't exactly a book about the canon, but it's close enough and I wanted to make a recommendation without starting a new thread.

 

I just finished That's Not English by Erin Moore, a book about the differences between British English and American English from a woman who grew up in Key West and then married an Englishman and moved there.  Great resource for those of us who write fan fiction, and very entertaining read.

 

Anyway, relevant to the ACD canon is this paragraph about Victorian behaviors, which should put some of the canon Watson activities, especially, into perspective:

 

"The English were not always known for their stiff upper lips, any more than Americans are now.  In the Victorian era and even before, public weeping by men and women alike was considered normal, and outpourings of public grief sometimes accompanied the death of public figures.  As the editor of Private Eye, Ian Hislop, has observed, "In the 18th Century the word 'sentimental' was not perjorative in [England].  It was a term of praise for a person of taste and refinement who displayed their emotions openly.  The nation which would become known for its ability to 'keep calm and carry on' had yet to appear."

 

I think that puts some of ACD Watson's weeping and wailing into perspective, as well as giving me a better look at how differently our John had to be written to feel modern.

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Time to goose up this thread!  Hope Herlock Sholmes drops by . . .

 

At the beginning of my Sherlockian studies in earnest (Spring 2017), I was overwhelmed facing the Canon and needed some guidance.  The essay collection "About Sixty: Why Every Sherlock Holmes Story is the Best" (Christopher Redmond, ed.) was a useful resource.  60 Sherlockians from all over the world, some famous authors, others with regional profiles in Sherlock societies, contribute an essay apiece on one of the Canon stories (including the 4 novels).  These people are extremely passionate about Sherlock Holmes and about defending their chosen story.  Some are brilliant pieces of essay-writing; others are more workmanlike . .some are written by authors whose first language is not English.  But each contributor gives you plenty to chew over, whether you are a novice through the Canon or reading it for the 50th time.  You are sure to find a defender for *your* favorite story here, and you may discover a new favorite after reading the insights here.

 

A couple of standouts that jump to mind are Bonnie MacBird's essay on "The Naval Treaty" and David Marcum's on "The Problem of Thor Bridge", among many others.

 

I think this book deserves a place on each serious Sherlockian's bookshelf--and the cover is way cool.  Wish I had a poster size!

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I liked "Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes" by Maria Konnikova

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Hello, Ioan Baicu -- welcome to Sherlock Forum!   :welcome:

That's ia good question.  Just offhand, I don't know of any other Romanians on the forum, but then again, there are a lot of people who mostly read and rarely post anything.

Although members are not permitted to advertise their wares here, we can definitely discuss our interests!  How did you first encounter Sherlock Holmes -- and was he speaking English or Romanian at the time?

 

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View Halloa, everybody, from the frozen Midwest of America.  10 inches yesterday and negative windchills today, but still, the public library must be kept open!  (There is no one here but us church mice as I write this).

It has been quite some time since I have revisited Sherlock Holmes, either in the canon or in pastiche, but I remember the heady days of my most recent Sherlock-mania (circa 2017 - 18) with nostalgia.  Only three  years, but it seems like a lifetime ago, as everything pre-pandemic seems to.  I'm trying to romanticize my current situation of social isolation, distrust and suspicion of my fellow man and the government at large and two-pronged difficulty in getting supplies in the midst of a pandemic Arctic winter like I'm living out a scene of 'Doctor Zhivago' but so far I'm not convincing myself terribly well.

I don't know if this constitutes a strict adherence to 'books about the Canon' but one of my very favorite pastiche authors is Donald Thomas.  Mr. Thomas's ouevre is quite slender, consisting of only three or four book-length collections, but I think his influence on the genre of Sherlock Holmes has been profound.  His books are marketed as novels but are in fact collections of several novellas in each volume, which is titled after a story in each.  This can be a little confusing to the collector.  I found this on Amazon, which I did not purchase, having already bought the collected stories in three different volumes.  But if you are looking for more stories featuring Sherlock Holmes which are faithful to ACD's creation while amplifying his available adventures, try these.

Collected as 'The Lost Casebooks of Sherlock Holmes' by Donald Thomas

In these sixteen tales of intellectual derring-do, Sherlock Holmes is shown at the height of his powers: He co-operates with a young Winston Churchill in the famed siege of Sydney Street; helps defeat a plan for a German invasion outlined in the Zimmerman Telegram; establishes a link between two missing lighthouse keepers and the royal treasures of King John; contends with a supernatural curse placed upon an eccentric aristocrat; and discovers a lost epic poem of Lord Byron. Everywhere in these finely wrought tales, encompassing the critically acclaimed The Execution of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and the King’s Evil, and Sherlock Holmes and the Ghosts of Bly, riddles and mystery hover in the air. But they are not beyond the grasp of the incomparable Sherlock Holmes.

Mr. Thomas imagines Sherlock Holmes's encounters with real historical personages, or cleverly inserts SH into other well-known literary adventures, adding to the Great Detective's aura of realism.  I particularly enjoyed Sherlock Holmes & the Ghosts of Bly, in which the Great Detective sets out to get to to the bottom of one of literature's great mysteries, set by Henry James in The Turn of the Screw:  Are the ghosts of Bly House, which drive governesses mad, real manifestations of evil spirits?  The ravings of a madwoman and some seriously disturbed children?  Or is it all an elaborate prank?  Who better to solve this mystery than Sherlock Holmes?  I highly recommend all of Mr. Thomas's books.

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2 hours ago, Hikari said:

10 inches yesterday and negative windchills today, but still, the public library must be kept open!

I don’t know what Ohio is like, but that’s just another Wednesday in Minnesota.  :P 

 

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16 hours ago, Artemis said:

I don’t know what Ohio is like, but that’s just another Wednesday in Minnesota.  :P 

 

We can't compete with Minnesota, but we have our moments.

The salient difference is, Upper Midwesterners know to dress for the cold.  You don't mess around; I bet you've got the chains on your tires by November 1st.

Ohio winters can be severe, but more Ohioans seem to live in denial that winter is *going* to happen, no matter how little we do to prepare. We cannot hope it out of existence by driving on bald tires and wearing flip-flops in the snow.  But still, we try.

Seasonal denial is most often practiced by males, who might condescend to don a hoodie over their basketballl shorts and flip-flops as they are shoveling the driveway with their inadequate shovel.  Girls are more apt to at least wear some form of coat, even if it's too short and kept open to show off the cute shirt underneath.  It's amazing more of us don't die from  hypothermia each year.

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Not sure what part of Ohio you're in, but if you're near the Great Lakes, your weather fluctuates less than ours does here in central Indiana.  I've seen a 60-degree (16 C) day in January turn into a 6-degree (14 below) night (though that's far from typical of course!).  Maybe we're less optimistic than our neighbors to the east, because I don't see any shorts and sandals till the weather is clearly above freezing, and even then it's only the occasional brave soul, possibly on their way home from the gym.

 

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1 hour ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

Not sure what part of Ohio you're in, but if you're near the Great Lakes, your weather fluctuates less than ours does here in central Indiana.  I've seen a 60-degree (16 C) day in January turn into a 6-degree (14 below) night (though that's far from typical of course!).  Maybe we're less optimistic than our neighbors to the east, because I don't see any shorts and sandals till the weather is clearly above freezing, and even then it's only the occasional brave soul, possibly on their way home from the gym.

 

I was born in Michigan and raised in NE Ohio not far from Cleveland.  Currently I reside about 45 minutes from Ft. Wayne.  In my experience the weather all over the state can be changeable, sometimes by a lot, but I suppose Lake Erie does have a somewhat moderating effect.  For about three years, I lived right on Lake Erie, but the massive snow dumps of 'the snow belt' did not occur directly at the lake shore but 20-30 miles inland.  My sister is about a half hour from the lakeshore and they get absolutely buried every season.  

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2 hours ago, Hikari said:

For about three years, I lived right on Lake Erie, but the massive snow dumps of 'the snow belt' did not occur directly at the lake shore but 20-30 miles inland.  My sister is about a half hour from the lakeshore and they get absolutely buried every season.  

Now that is weird!  I once lived a couple miles south of Lake Ontario.  Just prior to that I had lived and worked several places further inland, four to ten miles from the lake.  The whole area got snow, of course, but in the southern locations it was sporadic, whereas after I moved north I'd get home from work, pull over to the edge of the street, get the snow shovel out of my car, and shovel *another* four inches of snow off the driveway, then pull in and park.  It seemed like that was just about every day, though my memory may be exaggerating.

Come to think of it, though, I've heard that Syracuse gets really hammered, and they're maybe thirty miles from the same lake.  Same with the area south of Buffalo, but they get it from both Erie and Ontario.

 

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For a moment I was taken back to my trip to Sicily...

nearly fried to death!

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On 2/18/2021 at 1:45 PM, Carol the Dabbler said:

Not sure what part of Ohio you're in, but if you're near the Great Lakes, your weather fluctuates less than ours does here in central Indiana.  I've seen a 60-degree (16 C) day in January turn into a 6-degree (14 below) night (though that's far from typical of course!).  Maybe we're less optimistic than our neighbors to the east, because I don't see any shorts and sandals till the weather is clearly above freezing, and even then it's only the occasional brave soul, possibly on their way home from the gym.

 

Hey, we have that here in Virginia! Well, maybe not quite so extreme. But t-shirt weather in the afternoon and well below freezing after dark. 

And yet everyone still acts like Hikari's neighbors ... it's like a point of pride with many people (agreed, mostly in males :D )  to keep wearing flip-flops until the snow is actually up to their ankles.....

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On 2/18/2021 at 9:44 AM, Hikari said:

The salient difference is, Upper Midwesterners know to dress for the cold.  You don't mess around; I bet you've got the chains on your tires by November 1st.

You would think so, but nope.  We may know how to dress for the cold but that doesn't mean we do, lol.  We pretty much do it the way you guys do: shorts and t-shirts, even below zero.  (I myself have been known to wander outside without a coat in such weather.)  And I've never seen a single car with chains on its tires in my life, lol.  Every winter, when the snow first makes an appearance, people drive like they've never seen it before, and we end up with 200-car pileups.

4 hours ago, Arcadia said:

Hey, we have that here in Virginia!

I think that might be everywhere, lol.  Up here we can fluctuate 50+ degrees in a day.  I was visiting North Carolina once, where that happened, and Iowa.  And just about everyone from every state will claim the same.  I think it's just universal weather experience, lol.  Maybe it happens more often some places than others, but I donno.  I'd have to live in those places to really know.

 

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23 minutes ago, Artemis said:

I've never seen a single car with chains on its tires in my life,

Used to be you had to change your tires twice a year -- there were special "snow tires" for winter, with really chunky treads, and some people would also put chains on if a lot of snow was expected.  But then they came out with "all-weather tires" which really do seem to handle just about anything.  I'm not sure they even make snow tires any more, let alone chains.

27 minutes ago, Artemis said:

Up here we can fluctuate 50+ degrees in a day.  I was visiting North Carolina once, where that happened, and Iowa.  And just about everyone from every state will claim the same.

Near as I can tell, that's typical weather in the interior of a continent, well away from the ocean.  Nearly every place I've ever lived, the locals make the same joke, "If you don't like the weather, just wait ten minutes."  But I never heard that joke in coastal southern California, presumably because they don't even have what I'd call weather, just a climate.

Where in North Carolina were you -- how far from the coast?

 

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4 minutes ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

But I never heard that joke in coastal southern California, presumably because they don't even have what I'd call weather, just a climate.

Ha, that's true.

4 minutes ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

Where in North Carolina were you -- how far from the coast?

Asheville, so pretty far from the coast.

 

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1 hour ago, Artemis said:

Asheville, so pretty far from the coast.

OK, in the mountains, almost to Tennessee.

 

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12 hours ago, Artemis said:

Ha, that's true.

Asheville, so pretty far from the coast.

 

Hey, I used to live in Boone, why didn't you drop in for a visit! :D 

One (of many!) great things about Boone was, it never got hot there. I don't remember a single day when I was too warm. Too cold, yes, but all you have to do to fix that is move. :smile: 

Wonder if it's still like that. If they're also having heat waves now (like Maine is) I feel sorry for the people who bought our house ... it didn't have A/C.

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