Saturday, May 2, 2015

"Sherlock Holmes Lives in a Peculiarly Definite Sense as Real as D'Artagnan or Cyrano"

"221-B, Baker Street."
By Edwin C. Hill (1884-1957).
Scribner's (November 1936), page 68.
Online HERE.
Unfinished business
After Conan Doyle's demise, there was a scramble to see who would replace The Great Detective in the hearts and minds of the reading public, but as Edwin C. Hill indicates there was still some unfinished business having to do with Sherlock and the good Doctor.

Hill's full article follows:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, gone now to solve in another world the problems of life and death which so concerned him, wearied at the latter end of his career of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and yet, if the creator of the world's most famous detective is in tune with earthly vibrations, he must feel a glow of pride in Doctor Watson's friend and hero. Not a day passes that the Post-office in London does not receive quantities of letters addressed to "Mr. Sherlock Holmes, 221-B, Baker Street." Not a year passes that thousands of such letters — most of them appeals for help — are mailed to a man who never lived and a house that never existed — so real are both.
Conan Doyle was a struggling country doctor when he conceived the idea of a fiction detective with uncanny powers of deduction and the faculty of observa-tion so acutely developed that he could read at a glance the whole life history of a visitor. Conan Doyle modeled Holmes after a remarkable character — Doctor Joseph Bell, who was consulting surgeon to the Royal Infirmary and Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Edinburgh, Scotland, where Conan Doyle received his medical training. Doctor Bell, thin, wiry, dark, with a high-nosed, acute face, penetrating gray eyes, angular shoulders, and a peculiar walk, with a voice high and discordant (Holmes to the life), possessed a knack of personality diagnosis as amazing as his skill as a surgeon.
Sir Arthur died half a dozen years ago without, unhappily, leaving us an account of innumerable mysteries whose solution had reflected glory on the name of Sherlock Holmes. In the stories he wrote, there were frequent references to cases which the great detective had solved, and perhaps sometime Sir Arthur intended to write them down. But he never did, and he died, leaving the world infinitely poorer. I, for one, would have given a lot to know what really took place in "The Singular Tragedy of the Atkinson Brothers at Trincomalee," or to learn more of "The Adventure of the Amateur Mendicant Society," whose members had a luxurious club in the lower vault of a furniture warehouse.  . . . I, for one, would walk miles to get the truth of "The Singular Adventure of the Grice Patersons in the Island of Uffa," of "Colonel Warburton's Madness," of "The Adventure of Ricoletti of the Club Foot and his Abominable Wife." . . . Millions, I am sure, would lie awake of nights to read what really occurred in "The Case of Wilson, the Notorious Canary Trainer," "The Delicate Affair of the Reigning Family of Holland," "The Incredible Mystery of Mr. James Phillimore," who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world.
So many more untold tales whose very suggested titles cause us to breathe a bit faster: "The Affair of the Politician, the Lighthouse, and the Trained Cormorant," "The Strange Case of Isador Persano," who was found stark, staring mad with a match box in front of him which contained a worm unknown to science.  . . . Conan Doyle is gone, but Sherlock Holmes lives in a peculiarly definite sense as real as D'Artagnan or Cyrano.
- Of course other writers have explored these gaps in the Holmes canon, through pastiches and/or parodies; go HERE for a huge database of their works.

Category: Sherlock Holmes's missing adventures

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