Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Never in the Long History of Fiction Has There Been a Figure Comparable to Sherlock Holmes"

"Forty Years of Sherlock."
By Arthur Bartlett Maurice (1873-1946).
The Bookman (October 1927).
Online HERE.

Conan Doyle's announcement three years before he passed away that there would be no more Sherlock Holmes adventures prompted this short piece from someone who was both a literary critic and avid Sherlockian fan. A few excerpts:
IN a villa upon the southern slope of the Sussex Downs, commanding a great view of the Channel, there lives an elderly gentleman engaged in bee farming. Despite his physical vigor and his still unclouded mind, age is descending upon him just as it inevitably descends upon all our favorite heroes who belong in the Valhalla of fiction.  . . .
. . . [The "birth" of Sherlock Holmes as a fictional character] was not only unheralded; for a time it was threatened by grave complications. It was a hard case for Dr. Doyle. The newly born literally fought its way into existence against the opposition of hostile hands. In other words, the manuscript went the rounds of the publishers only to meet repeated rejection. Finally the copyright was purchased outright for twenty-five pounds. As an added complication the baby came near to being christened "Sherringford" Holmes.  . . .
. . . [The Case-Book is supposed to be Sherlock's swan song.] Perhaps we are inclined to take the announcement lightly and with mental reservation. In the course of the stories published there have been allusions to some sixty or seventy other cases that are yet unrecorded.  . . . But perhaps the time has come to accept the verdict of finality.  . . .
"You brute," she wrote.
Maurice's next assessment is still true today:
. . . In the matter of world-wide popularity never in the long history of fiction has there been a figure comparable to Sherlock Holmes.  . . .

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