Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sexton Blake Redux

"And who," a few of you may be asking, "is Sexton Blake?" Blakiana, a website devoted to the character, has the answer:

   From Edwardian gentleman to WWI spy-catcher, saviour of the upper-classes to 1930's gang-buster, working man's hero to swinging sixties super-sleuth, Sexton Blake always moved with the times. His stories chronicle the changing face of Britain as the Empire crumbled, the class system broke down, and new technologies changed the social land-scape. No wonder he became, according to Dorothy L. Sayers, "the nearest approach to a 20th Century national folklore." — "Hero," Blakiana (HERE)
However, time hath wrought its changes:

   There was a time when everyone in the U.K. knew who Sexton Blake was. His name was deeply engrained in the British psyche; it signified everything we thought our empire stood for: honour, courage, strength, charity, moral righteousness and justice. Hindsight is rarely kind to empires; nor has it been kind to Blake. At best, he's been relegated to the status of a second-rate Sherlock Holmes; at worst, he's been forgotten. 
  The Sherlock Holmes comparison was always erroneous. Blake is nothing like Holmes. It's true that from 1904 he lived on Baker Street, occasionally wore a threadbare and acid-stained dressing gown, puffed on a pipe and sank into long silent bouts of analysis ... but these are mere details. Yes, Blake has an extraordinary talent for interpreting the obscurest of clues and for building a case on the merest of trifles but this was rarely the focus of his stories. The fact is, while Holmes was contemplatively drawing the strings over his violin, Blake was getting knocked over the head, shot at, poisoned, chained inside slowly filling water tanks, and challenged by the most bizarre villains ever to threaten the empire. There's more of Indiana Jones than of Sherlock Holmes in Sexton Blake. Furthermore, he was far and away more popular than Holmes. — Mark Hodder, "History," Blakiana (HERE)
More about Sexton Blake:
   ~ Blakiana (HERE)
   ~ The Thrilling Detective (HERE)
   ~ Wikipedia (HERE)
   ~ Comic Book Plus (HERE)
   ~ The IMDb (HERE)
   ~ ROY GLASHAN'S LIBRARY (RGL) has recently been adding Sexton Blake short stories from the early 1900s—fifteen as of this moment; they usually run eight to twelve pages and can be downloaded as HTMLs or EPUBs. Go to "The Sexton Blake Collection" (HERE) and check back occasionally for new additions.

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