Saturday, January 6, 2024

"A Magnificent Symphony and a Magnificent Murder Are Equally Admired by the Populace"

HERE we have appearing in the same magazine issue a review of Sherlock Holmes's swan song (at least from his creator) and the disturbing links between music and homicide:

The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes.
By Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930).
London: John Murray, 1927. 7s. 6d.
"Books Abroad" in The Living Age, August 1, 1927 (HERE and below).
(A reprint of Gerald Gould's article in the Observer.)

  SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE announces positively the last disappearance of Sherlock Holmes. How many moons have waxed and waned since Holmes fell over that precipice, with (I suppose) the words Moriarty te saluto on his ascetic lips? He has been a good goer and a good stayer, but I part from him less regretfully than from Watson. I have always held Watson to be greater than Holmes, just as I have always held Boswell to be greater than Johnson.
  I cannot feel free to criticize this new collection of stories. It is not now as it hath been of yore; but the change is just as likely to be in the reader as in the writer. The great detective does not seem quite the man he was — in the first story he does no detection, and commits only a very elementary burglary; and he is betrayed on the very first page as the last man who ought to have been entrusted with a confidential document, since he leaves it in his coat pocket while he has a Turkish bath!
  But probably it is we who are not the men we were; and certainly Sir Arthur has good grounds for the modest hope he expresses — that 'Sherlock and his Watson' may find a corner in the Valhalla of literary characters. Watson certainly will be wafted to bliss by police officers from Scotland Yard, all brainlessness and boots, with no ratiocinatory processes to reproach his sublunary infirmities. And if there is any boggling at the gate, Holmes will be there to smooth it over with the welcome and welcoming phrase, 'Elementary, my dear Watson!'

- About James Boswell and Samuel Johnson: Wikipedia (HERE) and (HERE).
- In the same year this review appeared, Arthur Bartlett Maurice acknowledged Holmes's "passing" in The Bookman; see ONTOS (HERE). However, Gilbert Seldes, also writing at The Bookman, didn't hesitate to let us know what he thought of the book:

  "Sir Arthur is obviously weary of his detective and weary of writing; almost all the stories are pretty bad, largely because there is hardly a trace of detecting in them; something mysterious occurs and Holmes remembers an odd bit of information which explains it, or guesses something pretty obvious and it turns out right. One would suspect from the present book that Doyle has discovered the one way to rid himself of Holmes — by writing such stupid yarns that even editors would stop plaguing him for more. But you never can tell about editors." (ONTOS HERE.)

- Here is the FictionMags content list ("nv" = novelette; "ss" = short story):
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by A. Conan Doyle (John Murray, June 16, 1927, 7/6d, 320pp, hc). Simultaneous with US (George H. Doran) edition.

  - Preface · A. Conan Doyle · pr 1927
  - "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client" [Sherlock Holmes] · A. Conan Doyle · nv Collier’s, November 8, 1924
 - "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier" [Sherlock Holmes] · A. Conan Doyle · nv 
Liberty, October 16, 1926
 - "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone" [Sherlock Holmes] · A. Conan Doyle · ss 
The Strand Magazine, October 1921
  - "The Adventure of the Three Gables" [Sherlock Holmes] · A. Conan Doyle · ss 
Liberty, September 18, 1926
 - "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire" [Sherlock Holmes] · A. Conan Doyle · ss 
The Strand Magazine, January 1924
 - "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" [Sherlock Holmes] · A. Conan Doyle · ss 
Collier’s, October 25, 1924
 - "The Problem of Thor Bridge" [Sherlock Holmes] · A. Conan Doyle · nv 
The Strand Magazine, February 1922 (+1)
 - "The Adventure of the Creeping Man" [Sherlock Holmes] · A. Conan Doyle · nv 
The Strand Magazine, March 1923
 - "The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane" [Sherlock Holmes] · A. Conan Doyle · nv 
Liberty, November 27, 1926
 - "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" [Sherlock Holmes] · A. Conan Doyle · ss 
Liberty, January 22, 1927
 - "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place" [Sherlock Holmes] · A. Conan Doyle · ss 
Liberty, March 5, 1927
 - "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman" [Sherlock Holmes] · A. Conan Doyle · ss 
Liberty, December 18, 1926.

Life, Letters, and the Arts: "Music and Murder."
The Living Age, August 1, 1927 (HERE and below).

  ERNEST NEWMAN, the most stimulating of all English musical critics, finds so much in common between the murderer Nathan Leopold and the musician Richard Wagner that he says, 'From music to murder is probably only a step.' The comparison was suggested by a book entitled World Famous Crimes, by F. A. Mackenzie, in which the author gives a thorough psychological analysis of the Leopold and Loeb case, showing how both young men, in different ways, exhibited the same abnormal mental traits that Mr. Newman declares exist in many artists. 'While yet a child,' says Mr. Mackenzie, 'Nathan F. Leopold began to strive to be the cold-blooded intellectualist.' It appears that he also 'wants to write a book or books, particularly his autobiography, because he thinks he is different from the others, and has led an unusual and most interesting life, and one that is worth recording.' With perhaps more reason, Wagner shared the same overweening egotism, and Mr. Newman feels that some of his remarks in Mein Leben would be the sort of thing Leopold might say.
  Krueger, the Stockholm humorist who blew up one of his friends by putting him in a taxicab and setting off a charge of dynamite with a time fuse under the back seat, might have been a jazz drummer. This man's personality 'conveyed the impression of hustling restlessness and nervousness' that, according to Mr. Newman, Wagner also revealed. In short, the whole thing boils down to the old question of genius and madness. The musician, like every other artist, is just as obnoxious to conventional society as the murderer. When we consider that this unpleasantness does not arise from his work, — for a magnificent symphony and a magnificent murder are equally admired by the populace, — but from his eccentricities, we find ourselves agreeing with Mr. Newman that music and murder are, indeed, sister arts.

- About Ernest Newman: Wikipedia (HERE).
- About Leopold and Loeb: Wikipedia (HERE).
- About Wagner: Wikipedia (HERE) and Mein Leben (HERE).

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

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