HOUN

“An instant afterwards he gave a little cry of satisfaction, and, following the direction of his eager eyes, I saw that a hansom cab with a man inside which had halted on the other side of the street was now proceeding slowly onward again.”

Illustration by Richard Gutschmidt for Der Hund von Baskerville, Stuttgart: Robert Lutz, 1907.

Friday Sherlock Links Compendium (November 5th - November 11th, 2011)

New Statesmen contains a piece by Michael Dirda, author of the recently published On Conan Doyle (Princeton Press), where he explains his reasons for writing a book about ACD that goes well beyond Sherlock Holmes: [i]In my new book, On Conan Doyle, I try to redress this imbalance. I discuss the Professor Challenger science-fiction stories, the dozens  of supernatural tales and contes cruels and the historical fiction, especially The White Company (which is often derided these days) and the rousing Brigadier Gerard swashbucklers, an important influence on George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman novels. There are sections covering Conan Doyle’s lively essays, memoirs and non-fiction…and an overview of his novels about con­temporary life.“ I haven’t received my review copy yet but I had the chance to hear Dirda speak at The Mysterious this week and he definitely knows his stuff.

[A very handsome tome on ACD and his work beyond just the Great Detective.]

Barefoot on Baker Street will be have just posted her 56th and final is rounding the final turn and posting her final set of Sherlock Holmes reviews which should take us through the weekend and (like all good things) end on Monday - so endeth 56 reviews in 56 days. At some point soon I plan on doing a recap of Charlotte Walters’ project, but for now just consider the end product: 56 blog posts in 56 days that each required the reading/reviewing of anywhere between 5 and 15 pages of text. Amazing x 56!! A project to be proud of!! 

Strictly Sherlock announced the release of the blog author Tracy Revel’s newest Holmes pastiche Shadowblood. A non-spoiler synopsis: "A sequel to Shadowfall, this novel continues the adventures of Holmes as a man of two worlds, gifted with both deductive and magical powers. It takes the reader on a journey with Holmes and Watson, from the quiet English countryside to the dark lanes of Prague and the steaming jungles of Florida, in pursuit of a villainess as dangerous as she is elusive." 

[If the story is as good as the cover art, this is going to be a winner!]

The House of Silk has been favorably reviewed by just about every major news outlet, but what about reviews from the more Sherlock-centric blogs/sites? Here’s a quick roundup of Sherlockian reviews of The House of Silk I’ve read so far: A Dark Woman, Alistair Duncan, Pop Matters, Baker Street Babes, John H. Watson M.D., Mark Gatiss, and [I’ll add more as they appear].

BBC is running audio versions of the first three chapters of The House of Silk narrated by Sherlock Holmes veteran voice actor Derek Jacobi. Producer: Jane Marshall for BBC Radio 4. Thanks to Paul Spiring for the tip.

The Napoleon of Crime posted what many might consider a ‘different side of Holmes’ - that is, Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes from the Russian Sherlock Holmes showing off the hard-drinking side of a great detective's life:

[Now that the Great Sherlock Holmes Debate is over, let’s talk about other adaptations like the Russian Sherlock or Douglas Wilmer’s Sherlock.]

A Case of Witchcraft rounded up all the online reviews of A Case of Witchcraft and pasted the salient points made by the various reviewers (myself included - though I have yet to post my main review). I’m pleased to see that almost all the reviews are overwhelmingly positive and deservingly so. Joe Revill ends this post by speculating: "I think that I shall write another one!” Please do!

The Baker Street Babes posted their 11th podcast focusing on Paget and the image of Sherlock Holmes: "The iconic illustrator of Sherlock Holmes was accidentally Sidney Paget. In this episode we take a look at the image he created for Sherlock Holmes that still resonates today, as well as why poor Watson isn’t known for anything other than his mustache, and why Moriarty can’t swim. Some Chinese, some Christmas wishlists, and enough laughter to go around as always, Episode 11 features Babes Curly, Jenn, and Kafers.“ 

[Sidney Edward Paget, 1860 - 1908.]

Sales on Film - a blog I’m not familiar with - posted this wonderful publicity photo of Peter Cushing from the Hammer adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959). Make sure to click on the larger image because Cushing is pure style in this picture. 

[Click image for a larger, more glorious version.]

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STAR DRIVER FANDUB: ☆ GALACTIC PRETTY BOY ☆

look me in the eyes and tell me his transformation isn’t fabulous

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A small sample of the play I went to on Tuesday - surprise, surprise, a Hound of the Baskervilles spoof! Only three actors in the whole shebang: Holmes, Watson and Sir Henry Baskerville, with the rest of the parts divided up between them. It was a bit odd seeing a tall Watson playing opposite a much shorter Holmes, but I’m guessing that was intended as part of the humour.

The staging was simple but effective, the permanent moor set being behind the curtain/proscenium arch, and Baker Street / Baskerville Hall depicted by cunning lighting and two different fireplaces. I was greatly impressed by the Holmes actor, having the lion’s share of the minor roles, including Stapleton, ‘Miss’ Cecille Stapleton (why’d they change her name?), the butler and his wife, which meant he had to do a lot of very quick costume changes. This was especially impressive when it came to the beginning of the second act, when the actors discovered to their annoyance that some audience member had been tweeting rude comments about Sir Henry’s acting slowing the whole performance down. Thus the decision was made to recap the first act… in fast forward!

My favourite bit, though, was in the portrait gallery. They’d been breaking the fourth wall all the way through the performance – as you’d expect in a comedy! – although they did do very well at keeping straight faces for most of it. However, when Holmes and Watson were examining the Baskerville portraits, with the Sir Henry actor portraying each one with a single picture frame and different expressions, at one point he was trying so hard not to laugh, that the picture frame was literally shaking! Holmes promptly ad libbed, dead pan: ‘We seem to be having a small earthquake.’ Watson promptly responded: ‘Yes, but perhaps we’d better get back to the script, if you can remember where we are.’

My only complaint was over the Hound itself. They kept it the original big, scary dog as in the original tale, using mime and SFX – but I wanted to see the little corgi-type lap dog they had on the posters!

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Holmesian Canon Masterpost

The Complete Sherlock Holmes + Illustrations

Note: I’ve put an asterisk * by books/stories that introduce iconic moments/characters.

I should also note that this post’s definition of canon extends to anything about Sherlock Holmes that was written at least in part by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Please notify me if any of the links end up broken so that I can replace them.

Novels

A Study in Scarlet [STUD](1887)*

The first Sherlock Holmes story ever written. Half of the book is about a completely different person, and Holmes’s characterization here is slightly different, but it’s a good start for anyone unfamiliar with the canon.

The Sign of Four [SIGN](1890)*

Sherlock Holmes at his edgiest. Best known as “the one where Watson gets married and Holmes does cocaine”. Contains moderate amounts of racism towards the end of the book.

The Hound of the Baskervilles [HOUN](1901-1902)*

The easiest novel to get into without any prior knowledge imo. It seems to be one of the few stories in the canon that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put actual effort into. Sherlock Holmes himself doesn’t have a lot of screentime, though.

The Valley of Fear [VALL](1914-1915)

A redux of A Study in Scarlet for the most part, albeit a good one. Has a few Moriarty cameos in it, but if you read it exclusively for him you’re probably going to be disappointed.

Short Stories

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes*

Probably the most iconic set of stories in the canon. This is a great place to start if you’ve never read a Sherlock Holmes story before.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes*

Another great place to start; these stories tend to focus more on Sherlock Holmes’s backstory (or what little we get of it) than the others. It’s also home to the story where Sherlock Holmes “dies”.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

He’s back, and this time we get a number of really good Sherlock Holmes stories. I’d probably read some of the stories from previous books first, but I’d certainly recommend most of these.

His Last Bow

I honestly wouldn’t recommend any of these to anyone who wasn’t already thoroughly invested in the canon, though they each have their moments.

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

These ones tend to be a bit off-genre at points, containing three short stories not even narrated by Watson, as well as a few parts that are Just Plain Weird, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like them anyways.

Unlisted Stories

The Field Bazaar (1896)

A three page story Arthur Conan Doyle submitted for a charity magazine.

How Watson Learned the Trick (1924)

Another one-page story in which Watson attempts to copy Holmes’s deductions.

The Lost Special (1898)

A short story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that features an unnamed “amateur reasoner of some celebrity”. It is published in French anthologies of Sherlock Holmes stories.

The Man with the Watches (1898)

Another short story featuring this “amateur reasoner”. It was also published in French anthologies.

Stage Plays

Sherlock Holmes: A Drama in Four Acts [video](1899)

A joint effort between ACD and William Gillette, it stands as one of the most influential pieces of Sherlock Holmes media outside of the canon itself. It is the origin of the phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson”, as well as many other curiosities.

The Crown Diamond: An Evening With Sherlock Holmes (1921)

The play that would inevitably become canon through “The Mazarin Stone”. It is also where the “Moriarty steals the crown jewels” plotline originated.

Note: there were two other Sherlock Holmes-related plays penned by ACD (Angels of Darkness and The Stonor Case), but I was unable to find a pdf of them. :( Please let me know if you find a copy.