Jump to content

The Blue Carbuncle


sherlockandjohn
 Share

Recommended Posts

Since there have been tweets implying that the upcoming Sherlock special could involve 'The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle', and since I had already purchased 'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes', I set to reading that particular story.

 

When looking at it in hindsight, the case seems fairly simple, but I found it engaging anyway. Mostly, I loved the ending. I could indeed picture our modern day Sherlock letting a thief go free and saying: "It's Christmas" (nod to past times when he used the phrase in a completely different context). And it's such a merciful gesture - though not at all law-abiding - that it fits with Sherlock's character arc.

 

My favorite line is this: "I suppose that I am commuting a felony, but it is just possible that I am saving a soul."

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I forget if I had read that story when I checked out the complete Sherlock Holmes from my library last fall (didn't get through all of the stories).  But I do like your favorite line.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Jeremy Brett series has a very nice "Blue Carbuncle" episode.  When we watched it last year, the scene where Holmes finds out where the goose had been raised reminded me a great deal of Sherlock's scene with Fletcher (the tour guide) in "Hounds" -- another nod to canon, I'm sure.  And of course this story inspired the hat scene in "Empty Hearse" (though the Sherlock version is much funnier).

 

Gatiss has been quoted as saying that the Special's plot is not based on any particular Conan Doyle story.  But then they claim that "Blind Banker" is loosely based on "The Dancing Men," whereas it clearly owes at least as much to "Sign of the Four."  So who knows?

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sherlock Holmes is not averse to playing judge, assigning the role of jury to Dr Watson, and letting the culprits go on with their lives. He does so in The Blue Carbuncle, in Charles Augustus Milverton, in The Three Students, in The Second Stain, in The Devil's Foot, in The Sussex Vampire, in the Abbey Grange and in The Three Gables.

He commits several burglaries in a good cause, he is guilty of negligent homicide in The Speckled Band and ready to shoot to kill in defence of Dr Watson in The Three Garridebs. But the Blue Carbuncle must rank as his first foray into extra-legal to downright illegal actions. He has not only a brilliant mind, but a rather idiosyncratic set of moral values.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 



The Jeremy Brett series has a very nice "Blue Carbuncle" episode. When we watched it
last year, the scene where Holmes finds out where the goose had been raised reminded me a great deal of Sherlock's scene with Fletcher (the tour guide) in "Hounds" -- another nod to canon, I'm sure.


Indeed, that scene from 'Hounds' came to mind when I read that very part.
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That particular episode I got to know by heart, because I once had to adapt the story from the Adventures for a school Christmas play. OK, it was partly my fault, because a little known English-Polish collaboration on the stories, starring Geoffrey Whitehead and Donald Pickering, with Patrick Newell as Lestrade had brought out material adapted to teaching English as a foreign language from B2 to C2 levels, so the Proficiency class (C2) didn't want to go along with the younger classes  who were doing the usual Nativity stuff, after watching all those episodes, which helped them pass their test at the end of the year. The only Sherlock Holmes story centred around Christmas is this, so I made a play out of it.  The trouble started when the girls in the class wanted a Holmes story with more female characters in it, so back I went and adapted The Red Circle for them. All in all, it became a major thing for everybody, and they had so much fun that later on, when they had finished school and embarked on their careers, two of them became lawyers specialising in criminal cases, three became police officers and one actually joined the Interpol and one became a forensic scientist, and when they let me know their news, they all ascribed their career choices to Sherlock Holmes. OK, maybe wholly my fault!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Certainly not, a playwright! Those were acted on an auditorium stage with all the proud parents admiring their offspring actually using quite complex language with proper English accents. It was a lot of fun for everybody except me, since in a play you have to synchronise entrances left or right, use the props (we had a **** of a time finding anything passable for the goose), my dad gave us his paisley silk dressing gown and his Rohnson pipe, hats were a major issue, so the girls patched summer boaters with fake flowers and lots of ribbons to fake the look, and I know Arcadia and smpfco will like this, our Sherlock was a tall thin boy with a naturally curly mop, only his was golden brown, but we did not go into so much detail. Teaching them to stay on their marks while they spoke or to move around (especially in his nervous energy) was also a challenge. But I am still proud of the end result, and I mean their finding a path in life through love of Sherlock stories!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Try to locate the Chancellor Press two volumes, Stories and novels, in alibris, since it has the illustrations. The cheaper version is the Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes, to whose shower curtain version you took exception a while back. Enjoy!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The new Annotated, dear Carol, the old one from the Sixties was a one-volume affair! Smpfco never seems to do things by halves, they are expensive these ones, and the incidental notes can get boring, but I wish her joy of them!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Apparently there seem to be two versions, one for Europe and one for the States, because the Baring-Gould one is definitely one volume in my part of the woods, whereas the new version is two volumes and costs a lot in Amazon.uk . What I meant is that once you make up your mind, you dedicate yourself to the task in hand, of course, in this case, discovering the originals, and I do envy you your first read-through, I wish I were twelve again and opening The Adventures for the first time!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good luck reading those weighty tomes in bed!  Also, I found the annotations distracting (even annoying) when I just wanted to read the story.  I finally gave up and bought everything in paperback, just to have some "light" reading.  Much more enjoyable, and my Baring-Gould is only for reference now.  But of course you may have a totally different experience.

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Depends on my mood.  But unfortunately, Baring-Gould's idea of nifty background info doesn't often float my boat.  I go to him hoping for a "translation" of some obscure Victorian phrase, but I get several columns of conjecture as to what day of the week this would have been.  We do sometimes agree on what's interesting, but the odds against are high enough that I rarely bother looking.  If I'm in the mood for Holmes, I get out my paperbacks.

 

And I will admit that I finally succumbed to the temptation and bought the (so far) entire collection of BBC reprints, with Sherlock and John on the covers and intros written by various people associated with the show.  They're good quality at a reasonable price, so I don't feel like I've been "taken."  Now if they'll just do The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes....

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, the joys of reading an old Sherlock Holmes story on a cold day... I finally got round to having a closer look at The Blue Carbuncle, and I just fell in love with Mr Holmes all over again. He is so goddamn funny. And nice! Sherlock might be very amusing in his bratty arrogance, but his literary ancestor is such a really decent human being - or just much, much better at faking it. Anyway.

 

I am always interested in how the old stories are or could be modernized, and I've been breaking my head over what the modern equivalent of a famous jewel would be. I have always loved this paragraph:

 

"When the commissionaire had gone, Holmes took up the stone and held it against the light. “It’s a bonny thing,” said he. “Just see how it glints and sparkles. Of course it is a nucleus and focus of crime. Every good stone is. They are the devil’s pet baits. In the larger and older jewels every facet may stand for a bloody deed. This stone is not  yet twenty years old. It was found in the banks of the Amoy River in southern China and is remarkable in having every characteristic of the carbuncle, save that it is blue in shade instead of ruby red. In spite of its youth, it has already a sinister history. There have been two murders, a vitriol-throwing, a suicide, and several robberies brought about for the sake of this forty-grain weight of crystallised charcoal. Who would think that so pretty a toy would be a purveyor to the gallows and the prison?"

 

And I wonder about what kind of object one could say the same today

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, the joys of reading an old Sherlock Holmes story on a cold day... I finally got round to having a closer look at The Blue Carbuncle, and I just fell in love with Mr Holmes all over again. He is so goddamn funny. And nice! Sherlock might be very amusing in his bratty arrogance, but his literary ancestor is such a really decent human being - or just much, much better at faking it. Anyway.

 

I am always interested in how the old stories are or could be modernized, and I've been breaking my head over what the modern equivalent of a famous jewel would be. I have always loved this paragraph:

 

"When the commissionaire had gone, Holmes took up the stone and held it against the light. “It’s a bonny thing,” said he. “Just see how it glints and sparkles. Of course it is a nucleus and focus of crime. Every good stone is. They are the devil’s pet baits. In the larger and older jewels every facet may stand for a bloody deed. This stone is not  yet twenty years old. It was found in the banks of the Amoy River in southern China and is remarkable in having every characteristic of the carbuncle, save that it is blue in shade instead of ruby red. In spite of its youth, it has already a sinister history. There have been two murders, a vitriol-throwing, a suicide, and several robberies brought about for the sake of this forty-grain weight of crystallised charcoal. Who would think that so pretty a toy would be a purveyor to the gallows and the prison?"

 

And I wonder about what kind of object one could say the same today

 

Not sure that a jewel would need modernizing specifically because a jewel is still a jewel but if they do an adaptation of this... well, they may only use a few phrases from the story just to get in their licks, then merrily link arms and write a different path.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, but still, do jewels have the same cultural significance today as they had then?

 

By the way, we laugh about Sherlock's purple shirt today, but in the original, he had a purple dressing gown. In "The Blue Carbuncle", Watson finds his friend lounging on the sofa in that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Who's Online   0 Members, 0 Anonymous, 24 Guests (See full list)

    There are no registered users currently online

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of UseWe have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.Privacy PolicyGuidelines.