September 27, 2011

Sherlock Holmes at His Finest

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Arthur Conan Doyle

I read a book once, called The Thirteenth Tale - I didn't like the book much, as far as that goes, but there was an interesting concept in one passage. The bookish young woman struggles with the tale the old woman is telling her, and she comes down with a sickness. The butler diagnoses that she has read Jane Eyre too many times and too much Jane Austen - and the traits attributed to all female characters of those stories had become increasingly prominent in her (I haven't read much of that genre, which I plan to remedy soon enough) - and he promptly prescribes lots and lots of Sherlock Holmes, to counter-balance the ideas running through her mind. 

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I bought this copy of The Hound of Baskervilles because I really like these magnificent cloth bound Penguin Classics edition series of books. I have a few of them now: Tales from 1,001 Nights, Oliver Twist, Treasure Island, Middlemarch, and the one pictured above, which I just finished reading last night, sprawled out on the carpet at the foot of my bed. 

I have read a few very short Sherlock Holmes stories (on my nook), and of course, was vaguely aware of the cultural ambiance that is Sherlock Holmes, as we all are. The writing is very straight forward. The tale is told by Watson, Holmes' famous sidekick, as a record of exactly the events that transpired. In this particular case, Watson played a big part by living with the person the case revolved around. This enabled for a bit of muti-media in the story; one chapter was a series of letters Watson had written to Holmes, describing what he notices, and another chapter is comprised of several entries from Watson's diary, though they also, don't reveal much more than exactly what happened. Of course, every loose end you could possibly think of is resolved through the adventure, and if it isn't, is in Holmes' soliloquy at the end, describing, in detail, how the events came to be in the first place, and any other particulars that otherwise didn't come out within the story. There are not many emotions simply expressed - only observed, which can make the reading a bit dry for some readers, but Sherlock Holmes, is Sherlock Holmes - so brilliant his faults must be overlooked. 

I highly recommend that everyone read some good 'ol Sherlock Holmes (doesn't have to be this book in particular). This kind of reading is always good when, like in The Thirteenth Tale, the drama in your real life is at an all time high, and you just need something to make complete unquestionable sense. 

This book also fits very neatly into the R.I.P. Reading Challenge, as a classic mystery tale. Didn't bring out the 'October' smell, and longing thoughts of snow, frost, and pumpkins, but I am glad I read it. 

1 comment:

Steven E. Belanger said...

I bought the Complete Works, all of the Holmes stories and novels, as they originally appeared (even with pictures!) in Strand Magazine, after I saw the Robert Downey movie--which I also recommend highly. Anyway, most of the stories are interesting, both for the mysteries and for the (sometimes too) accurate period detail.